Why do the Mets lead with their chins?

By Rich Sparago

Spring training has begun for pitchers and catchers only, yet there’s a fair amount of buzz coming from Port Saint Lucie. Some of the buzz stems from the triumphant return of Matt Harvey. Most of the remainder of the storylines revolve around bold predictions for success in 2015 from many within the organization.

Let’s take a brief inventory. So far, Sandy Alderson has not predicted 89 wins, but did say his team could be 10 games better than it was in 2014. Terry Collins has indicated on a few occasions that he has a playoff team. Jenrry Mejia has publicly agreed, as has Jacob deGrom. Other players have stated that their expectation is to play deep into October this year. So, what’s wrong with that?

Well, nothing really. Pre-season bluster is fairly common in sports. Most fans, according to a recent poll, like the bravado coming from the Mets. However, I don’t like it. It’s not that I want the Mets to say that they’ll once again finish below .500, play before sparse crowds at Citi Field, and have the only intrigue of their season be whether or not they qualify for a protected draft pick. I want them to say little, focus on the season ahead, and stop giving fans and media fodder for August derision.

Last February, Sandy Alderson challenged his team to win 90 games. He took some jabs for it then, and he took more as the season went along. What was the real value of letting that type of sentiment get out? And I don’t accept the “it wasn’t meant for the public” line. We’re in the information age. Everything becomes public. If you look around professional sports, do the teams that win talk about how they’re going to win? Were the San Francisco Giants talking about winning the World Series last February? Were the New England Patriots going on record about winning the Super Bowl in July? The point is, winners (with some exceptions, such as the 1986 Mets) simply go out and win. Teams that don’t often win talk about winning. What good came from all of Rex Ryan’s talk about how good the Jets were going to be?

The Mets have been the subject of seemingly endless scorn since 2007. From the collapse of that season, to the financial situation that became public a year later, to heated arguments between the GM and reporters, to the Amway sponsorship, to some front office issues with employees, the list doesn’t seem to end.

The Mets have also taken some public relations hits. If you have tried to go to Opening Day that last couple of years, you’re painfully aware that parking is virtually impossible, because there’s literally a circus in town. Further, the Mets seem more interested in modifying their park’s dimensions than modifying their roster.

My request to the Mets is simple. Please go about your business, and try to make 2015 the year when the team turns the corner. In addition, please stop giving the media and fans an easy target at which to poke fun. Being the focal point of jokes in the sports world has gotten old.

If the Mets fall short of the playoffs (again), can’t you just hear the sarcasm now? Maybe it would happen anyway. But there’s no reason to make it easy, is there?

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