Mets 2017 Season: Why does it bother me so much?
By Rich Sparago
The Mets are having a dreadful season, but why can’t I shake it off?
To say the Mets’ 2017 season has not gone well would be analogous to saying Enron had a slight issue with its shareholders. This season for the Mets has been an unmitigated disaster. Bad seasons are not unprecedented (especially for the Mets). So why is this one sticking in my craw?
I’ve been a fan since the 1970s. I’ve lived through the ugly years of 1979, 1983, 1993, and 2003 (among others). I was able to keep those seasons in context. I brushed off 2009, which is so similar to this year (high expectations, injuries, etc.) that it’s scary. But this season, day after day, just stays in my mind. It haunts me. Why?
In speaking to fellow fans, many point to the World Series expectations as their primary reason for disappointment. That’s fair. The Mets rolled into 2017 with arguably the best starting rotation in baseball. Yoenis Cespedes was back. The veteran squad seemed poised for a run at the top.
Other fans have plunged into indifference. Their approach is, “So what? Things didn’t go as planned. When does football season start?”
I can’t do that.
Sure, my expectations were high. But as a long-time Mets fan, they were high with an asterisk. I always temper any enthusiasm with, “they’re still the Mets.” Maybe it’s the way the things went wrong. It was the proverbial “death by paper cuts.”
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First, Noah Syndergaard goes down. Wow, that hurt. But there was depth. Matt Harvey looked decent, and we had reason to believe he’d only get better as he progressed from thoracic outlet syndrome. Zack Wheeler was back to pitching, and seemingly throwing well. And of course, the unsung ace, Jacob deGrom, was dealing just fine.
But then Jeurys Familia went down. This was concurrent with the likes of Adam Wilk and Tommy Milone making starts for the Mets. All of a sudden, they did not look deep at all. They looked like a Triple-A team. Cespedes had a hamstring pull, that was grotesquely mismanaged. He belonged on the DL instantly. Syndergaard had refused an MRI. The organization became a laughing stock. And the losses piled up. Then the pieces began being traded. First it was Lucas Duda, followed by Addison Reed, then Jay Bruce, then Neil Walker.
And perhaps that’s the reason I walk around with a black cloud over my head these days. It’s not the injuries, per se. It’s not the losses either. It’s the way the Mets handle things that casts a shadow over my hope for a better 2018. At the deadline, reports are that the Mets did not want to absorb much salary to get better prospects. Then Sandy Alderson refuses to say the money saved by the fire sale would necessarily be used toward next year’s payroll.
Then there’s the issue of the manager. How there can be talk of the return of Terry Collins next season is, at best, ponderous. The team has played sloppy, uninspired baseball all season. It doesn’t matter if it’s a college team out there. There’s no excuse for lazy, bad play. And that’s what this team does every day, and that responsibility falls directly on the manager.
So, in summary, we have a multitude of injuries, that many say are caused by a questionable conditioning program. We have players, once again, making critical decisions instead of organization officials. We have a manager whose time has clearly come and gone. And then there’s the big one. Player moves (at least in part) being made for financial rather than baseball reasons. Maybe there is approximately $60 million coming off the books after 2017. But what does that mean if it won’t be spent on improving the roster?
Sure, losing games bothers me (as it does everyone). I hated the sweep at hands of the Dodgers. I’m disgusted by losing to the Yankees.
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But most of all, the way things are done these days in Flushing dashes my hopes that 2017 will go down as an aberration. Maybe it will. Perhaps next year this time, the Mets will be the Nationals with a commanding division lead.
I’m not feeling it.