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Mets fans’ pleas for Bryce Harper are about more than the player

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 18: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals at bat in the sixth inning against the Washington Nationals at Marlins Park on September 18, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 18: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals at bat in the sixth inning against the Washington Nationals at Marlins Park on September 18, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
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To New York Mets fans, this offseason wasn’t about signing Bryce Harper. It was about changing this organization.

The New York Mets are officially out of the hunt for Bryce Harper. This is, at least, according to the owner and general manager who have recently poo-poo’ed the idea of adding a significant employee to their payroll.

For the last year, it seems, angry Mets fans have pleaded with their favorite team to sign either he or Manny Machado. The two generational stars were reaching free agency at an uncommonly young age with aspirations of winning multiple championships and MVPs in the future.

Harper became a favorite for most fans starting with the “Johnny Hustle” comments made by Machado during the 2018 postseason. While many would still take him, the longtime Washington Nationals foe was the prized possession.

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If you’re like me, these cries to sign Harper were looked at as wasteful endeavors. The team was never going to pursue him. It’s not their style even with smooth-talking Brodie Van Wagenen in the general manager’s chair. Too much was working against them.

Those wishful thoughts of a Mets team with Harper on it were about more than the actual player. They were about the pursuit of something bigger, better, and different.

Harper hasn’t won a playoff series let alone a World Series in his career. This is certainly not his fault entirely, but it does serve as a reminder of how baseball is a 25-man sport. You don’t win or lose because of one player. You either tilt the odds in or against your favor.

By not even making a half-hearted attempt to bring Harper to the Mets, the organization let the fans down. The phrase “same old Mets” rings true as they’ve settled for lesser players albeit some great fits along the way.

Wilson Ramos may end up as a great bargain for his talents and Jed Lowrie could put together another All-Star campaign as he did in 2018. The Mets managed to land one of the best closers in the game, Edwin Diaz, while also adding one of the best modern-day second basemen, Robinson Cano.

There’s nothing wrong with the moves the Mets have made. It’s just not the full effort many had hoped for.

The Mets showed up to the offseason buffet and only ate sushi. They didn’t try the duck, the crab legs, or even think about the hibachi grill. They shoveled plate after plate of satisfying buffet sushi into their mouths without a second thought.

There’s not a single good argument for the organization to skip out on either Harper or Machado. I can think of a thousand why neither would want to sign with the organization, but the same is true of other teams who are apparently trying to ink the pair. The Mets are a much better team than the Chicago White Sox and San Diego Padres yet they continue to pursue the pair of top free agents.

It’s not about what Harper can do on the field as much as it is restoring some faith in the franchise. The team has had two winning seasons since the move to Citi Field. Their final days at Shea Stadium were ruined by late-season collapses.

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Without question, Mets fans are starved for continued success. No player guarantees this. But darn it, the best give you a greater opportunity.

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