Wednesday, October 07, 2009

What Have You Learned? Ownership

What Have You Learned is our very special off-season series that will outline what you've learned, what I've learned, and hopefully what the 2009 Mets have learned about themselves, others, and 2010. Today, we look at the Wilpon family, and their family values as they pertain to baseball.

Ownership is underrated. One need look no further than Tampa for proof, where the Devil Rays were less than the model expansion franchise until Stuart Sternberg took over, exorcised the Devil, and brought the newly christened Rays to the World Series. It's also where the late Bill Davidson took over the laughingstock Tampa Bay Lightning and gave them their first Stanley Cup. Take a look at where the Lightning are now under the ownership of Oren Koules, Len Barrie and Absolute Hockey Enterprises to see how fast prosperity can change.

If you believe in the theory that everything trickles down from the top, then you have to believe that the six seasons out of the last eight that have been nightmarishly terrible have also trickled from the top. Not coincidentally, the last eight seasons are the ones since Nelson Doubleday, for all intents and purposes, was out as Mets owner. Not that the Mets history before this has been littered with pennants and World Series titles, but through all of the past angst with this franchise, whether it be Steve Phillips vs. Bobby Valentine, Rick Peterson vs. Scott Kazmir, Art Howe vs. a nap, Julio Franco vs. Mother Nature, Tony Bernazard vs. Willie Randolph, Tony Bernazard vs. the Cyclones Chaplain, Tony Bernazard vs. the Binghamton Mets, Omar Minaya vs. Adam Rubin, Jose Reyes vs. healthy hamstrings, David Wright vs. Citi Field, the one and only common thread through all of this ... is you, Fred Wilpon. And you, Jeff Wilpon.

It's you. It's always been you. And keep in mind that you're forcing me to agree with Wallace Matthews twice in one season. It might be your most egregious offense.

So what have the Wilpons learned? Absolutely nothing. Not a damn thing. Think about it: What did yesterday's Wilpon media blitz solve? Mind you, I saw very little of it. Didn't have to. Hasn't anybody in the Mets organization learned that less is more? That's the tact they take with, say, Mets memorabilia in Citi Field. Unfortunately, it's not the tact they take with, say, news conferences. And while nothing of that level happened, by all accounts the appearance was a horror show. But everything that was said in that news conference and everything they said on the Yankee Propaganda Hour could have been given to us in a news release.

Or better still, not at all. The term "tone deaf" gets thrown around a lot when it comes to how the Mets are run, and Monday was another example. All I kept reading in the last two months is how Met fans want this season to end, and end quickly. What Jeff did was extend the season unnecessarily by one day with his "news" conference, the only news being broken was that he fired Luis Alicea so that he has more time for drinks with Tom Nieto. Jeff's presence on Black Monday, or on any other off day for that matter can never improve perception, only ruin it. His aim was to probably make me realize that ownership really feels bad about this and have me rally behind them. But what really happened was that I listened to him speak and thought that when the movie gets made about this franchise, Adam Sandler is a slam-dunk to play Jeff Wilpon. (And Jeff might be better suited to be a wedding singer anyway.)

And maybe we needed to hear something after 2007, but when you come and apologize three seasons in a row, it gets old ... especially after a season we knew was over in July. It doesn't need to be told to us, just shown to us. Your actions always speak louder than your words. Actions over the last four years: three do-or-die games lost at home, and a 70-win season.

And now, while your words say you're going to do everything you can to fix this, your actions say that you're prepared for the same old same old. Your actions say that you're willing to blame everything on the injuries without taking into account that the baseball that preceded it was shoddy at best. You'd better be right, or else you've just thrown 2010 away before the ink is dry on 2009.

You want to fix this? Start by not doing a thing going forward. You're bringing back Omar, you're bringing back Snoop. Fine. Now go away. Nobody wants to hear from you, nobody wants you peering over their shoulder. Let the baseball people do the baseball things, and you stick to running the business ... because that's what baseball teams are now, right? Nothing more than businesses. I accept that.

But know this: If all you're worried about is the bottom line ... if all you're worried about is the financial ledger, and you're not willing to admit that a baseball team is more than a business to your fan base, and you're not willing to go the extra mile for your loyal fans by doing things such as making your fans feel at home at Citi Field rather than making 90-year-old Brooklyn Dodger fans feel at home, then don't expect Met fans to treat your business as anything more than that. If you treat the Mets, your Mets, as a disposable income option for people who could care more about drinking wine at the Acela Club than about baseball, rather than a baseball team that people have had a life long love affair with, then don't expect the fans, your fans, to treat the Mets as anything more than just one of many choices for their entertainment dollar rather than 25 of their closest friends whom they can't live without. And know that the choices you make for your business do not live, or die, in a vacuum.

Remember that as you wonder why nobody's coming to your sparkling new ballpark in 2010.


number15 said...

to me, this whole dog and pony show boils down to jeff wilpon saying "in terms of baseball you can expect more of the same, but please please please please keep giving your money to us"

Schneck said...

I just hope that the fans realize that any season ticket purchase is the same as a vote for the current direction of this team. People tend to go in with the "I'll stick by my team through thick and thin" attitude but the fact is that we are part of the equation and can make a difference. If season ticket sales go down drastically next season you can be sure that the Wilpons will hear the message. If people keep feeding their Citi Field ponzi scheme, they will not see any reason to change their ways. Send them a message and don't renew!!!

Hazeleyes said...

Nelson Doubleday owned a baseball TEAM. He had a passion for the TEAM and the game.

The Wilpons own a baseball BUSINESS. The bottom line is far more important to them than what happens between the lines on the field. The bottom line will always matter more than winning.

Until winning the World Series becomes the bottom line and no expense or effort is spared there, this is the Wilpon family business and not the family passion.

I don't spend my dollars supporting a business that does not care about its customers because it does not care about its product. And that sums up the Wilpons.

tommy_calzone said...

I don't know too many fans that are looking forward to next year.

Nor too many people resigning for season tickets.
I am not.

The more I see Jeffy the more I think "loser, spoiled brat".

The complete opposite of it's fan base.

I am so pissed Manuel is back I think I may miss my first opening day in 20+ years in 2010 regardless of what they do with the team.

Going into next year with Manuel is already setting yourself up for failure.

You wanna keep Omar, fine.

Jerry needed to be jettisoned for more reasons than I care to list.

2010 is 2008 all over again.
Just replace Snoop for Willie.

Great job!

Schneck said...

Tonight in LA, Matt Holliday became a Met.