I’m writing to you, not as a traffic-hungry blogger, but as a fan–a long-time, die-hard fan. You see, my father, who, like you, was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, raised me in orange and blue. There wasn’t a choice in the matter, and I never looked back–until last night.
Last night, when the Miami Marlins officially signed Jose Reyes to a six-year, $106 million deal, something inside me snapped. As a life-long Mets fan, I’ve witnessed a lot of defeat. I’m too young to have tasted to sweet champagne of the 1986 victory, but unfortunately, perfectly aged to have experienced the tear-filled Playoff defeats in 1999, 2000, and 2006, as well as the various and abundant collapses here, there, and in-between. Yet, despite the agony, my cap remained unfettered, and I continued to defend the team against the sea of naysayers. I always looked forward to the scramble of the off-season, and eventual 7-Train out to Flushing with my family. Whether or not I agreed with the direction of the team’s operations, there was still that childish hope that, “This will be the year.”
But for the first time in my life, I don’t believe that hopeful colloquialism. The difference between all the devastation of previous years and the event that occurred last night, is that the latter could have been prevented. More specifically, it could have been prevented by owners that cared.
It was always easy to look at our “cross-town rivals” with disdain (masked, of course, as hidden jealousy), but in all fairness to the New York Yankees, they would have never let Jose Reyes–in his prime–go free to sign with another team. And not just another team, but a team in the same division. I’m not one of those reckless, “Whatever it takes to sign him” fans, but $106 million over six years (or $17.6 million per season) isn’t that bad. In many circles, it’s actually a “steal.” But more importantly, it’s a contract that, in previous years, would have been matched without the blink of an eye.
Now, I’m not going to riddle off Reyes’ various surface, peripheral, or other statistics that clearly illustrate how valuable of a player he is. His value is hardly an argument or even the point. The decision to not re-sign Jose Reyes had nothing to do with his “value” or even the amount of years or money it would take to keep him on board. This was a decision where you, Fred Wilpon, wagered the faith of the fans. But let me tell you, you’ve lost–big-time.
You and your son, Jeff Wilpon, have publicly lied to the fans many times over the years, but your most recent falsehood about how your dire financials would not affect the team was beyond deceitful. Due to the mounting Bernie Madoff-related lawsuits (which is yet another example of your selfishness) as well as the supposed $70 million worth of losses with the Mets in 2011, your financial situation is simply not appropriate to run a big market team–especially a New York one. And that is exactly why you should have and should still sell this team.
Fred, you don’t have a choice. You don’t have a choice because attendance dropped almost 26% from 2010 to 2011, and without Jose Reyes–easily the most exciting, dynamic player–it’s fair to assume that number will dip even further. You don’t have a choice because bandwagon fans and tourists will no longer be able to purchase top-selling Jose Reyes jerseys. You don’t have a choice because the forced facade of confidence attempted by Sandy Alderson is not shared among the fans of this team. And finally, you don’t have a choice because it is finally so clear that you do not want to win.
Fred, please do us all a favor and sell the New York Mets. After failing to re-sign the pride and joy of this franchise, it is the only act you can do to restore the faith that has incontrovertibly been lost.