Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Are Mets Fans Content With Mediocrity?

Two Mets Fever writers weigh in on a debate heard on WFAN yesterday when radio personalities and callers debated whether "Mets fans are too content with a mediocre product?"

Josh Chapdelaine:

There isn't a need for me to rehash the team's history starting in 1962, but from their inception the Mets have been known as a losing team. Formed out of the ashes of the Dodgers, Giants and demand for National League baseball to return in New York, the Mets first championship team of 1969 will always be recalled as the "Miracle Mets". The miracle, of course, was because of how horrific the team had been throughout the first years of existence. The result, though? A higher turnout. Coming off of a championship season it's not likely for a team to decrease in attendance(Well, unless your team plays in Florida)--but the Mets, much like any franchise, have been fueled by winning. Average attendance at Shea Stadium rose from 26,856 in 1969 to 33,302 in 1970. What's more? After poor performance the team's attendance dropped back to just under 28,000.

Looking objectively at the Mets is always a hard thing to do as a die hard fan. As someone who watches 155+ games a year, I often find myself wondering why people like Chin-Lung Hu, Brad Emaus, Gary Matthews Jr., Cory Sullivan, Tim Reddings--the castoffs or bubble players of the world--continue to receive such grand opportunities to play baseball in New York while the Yankees consistently field all star caliber lineups year in and year out. What's worse? I cheer for these players much like any other Met. They're part of the family if they're wearing the blue and orange--and yet I can't help but put the resentment toward other areas, mainly poor management and roster decisions. Bad contract decisions, trades and drafts have crippled the Mets depth the past several years and it's no secret. Despite this, however, the winning product is the main attraction year in and year out.

Attendance is just one aspect you can look at(From 2005-2007, the average home game attendance jumped 12,000 people per game). The other? Social media. Several months ago Matt Cerrone made note of the diminishing number of Mets blogs that were being written. Beyond the lessening number of blogs, the Mets presence on Twitter and Facebook is also effected. People who make their living through the Mets directly or indirectly(Looking at you, The7Line) benefit from success. While I truly jump each time the Mets reach .500 or jump a game or two above, the average Met fan is not a die hard. More Phillies shirts roam Long Island now than at any point in history, in fact, Phillies ice cream sits next to Yankees ice cream at my local supermarket. Beyond that? Most of my family, once die hard Mets fans, have fallen disillusioned by the team and their repeated failures. Call them fair weather fans if you will, but knowing someone who watched every season diligently through the 70's and early 80's with the utmost enthusiasm and only falling out of touch now is disheartening. Not only are Mets fans not happy with mediocrity--they're sick of it.

Rob Patterson:

Are Mets fans too content with a mediocre product? I think that its a tough question to answer due to the current state of the team. The New York Mets franchise is one that is in transition. Despite the repeated collapses that occurred at the end of the 2007 and 2008 seasons, as far as I am concerned, the franchise most recently hit rock bottom in the 2009 season when it won only 70 games. From that point there was not where to go but up...and up is exactly where things have headed since.

The New York Mets won 79 games in 2010. Is that a great season? Absolutely not, but what it is is a nine game improvement over the previous year. How you judge that depends on your stance I suppose. If your seeking immediate gratification then you wouldn't be happy with that. However, the way I view baseball is an never ending process. Each year, only so many changes can be made and bad decisions must be worked through. When a franchise manages to have everything fall into place, roster wise, they usually only have a two to four year opportunity to win a World Series before it time to start over and try again.

Right now the Mets are in the process of getting to that next level again. The 2006 to 2008 teams were the last time that everything fell into place for the Mets, and its no secret they couldn't get it done. Things haven't gotten back to that point yet due to the bad decisions of a win now mentality of the previous front office. The team improved by nine games last season and so far this year are on pace to improve again. From where I stand, that should put them in position for a legitimate playoff run next summer should such improvements continue. Its the progress that allows me to put up with mediocrity for the time being. Everyone wants to win now... but the Mets are the prime example of how bad things can go if "win now" is the only option put on the table. Depending on how things pan out this offseason, the team is getting there.  Until then progress is all we have, and although that may be a tough pill to swallow for some fans, I'm okay with that.

**You can follow either one of us on twitter at @MetsLegacy or @RobPatterson83**