Friday, May 3, 2013

The New York Mess: A Fan Base In Pain

By Dan Longarino

New York is home to perhaps the most passionate fan bases in all of sports. All season long, fans cheer on their favorite sports teams, hoping they make the city proud. Often times, their dedication is rewarded.

The New York Giants brought home the Lombardi Trophy two seasons ago and the New York Yankees have won a slew of World Series championships. After such big wins, fans and players alike gather in the city to rejoice and celebrate all their hard work with a huge parade.

Unfortunately, many New York sports fans are out of luck. With Yankees bringing home their most recent World Series trophy in 2009,  the New York Mets haven’t gave fans anything to cheer about in forty-four years. The Yankees have won the World Series twenty-seven times, the Mets have won twice. Playing little brother to one of the most successful franchise in baseball history is not easy for Met fans. Tensions are running high in New York as the team continues to disappoint year after year.

After many grueling, heat-aching seasons, Met fans are beginning to turn on their favorite team. After a promising season in 2006, the Mets failed to make the playoffs since. With their number of losses increasing, the number of fans attending the games has been on a steady decline since 2008. The owners of the Mets, the Wilpon family, have been under scrutiny as a result of their connection with Bernie Madoff. Their roster has been plagued by injuries and many fan favorites, such as Jose Reyes, are leaving the Mets to join other ball clubs.

How do prideful Mets fans cope with constant hits to their morale? Unfortunately, many don’t.
As a result of such failure, Met fans have been subject to ridicule by other fan bases and are finding themselves divided on how the team should be run. General Manager Sandy Alderson appears to have the team pointed in the right direction for the future, but not without controversy. By trading away All-Star caliber players such as R.A Dickey and Carlos Beltran for younger, unproven players, he seems to be running the Mets like a small-market, money saving team, in one of the biggest sports markets in the world.

Some fans believe this is the only way to build a strong foundation for future success, while others are understandably impatient with this strategy while they watch the Yankees spend lavishly while making the playoffs every year.

The future should look bright for the Mets. Young prospects such as Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Travis D’Arnaud seem to be the cornerstones for a consistent team in the coming years. Problem is, the 2013 roster is far from impressive, and if things keep going the way they have been, attendance numbers, unity and fan loyalty will all keep decreasing until things change. 

The start of the 2013 has not been promising for Mets fans. Per usual, the Mets had a strong start to the season, just to have a significant decrease in production towards the end of April. Fresh off a heart-breaking sweep by division rivals the Philadelphia Phillies, the Mets now sit at fourth place in the National League East division with a 10-13 record. Holding up to fans’ expectations, the Mets poor performance has been due to a lack of offense and bullpen production.

The Mets offense relies greatly upon young first baseman Ike Davis. Last season, Davis led the Mets in offensive production by hitting 32 home runs and driving in 90 runs. After a strong 2012 season and being one of the Mets few promising power hitters, Davis has not lived up to expectations a month into the 2013 season. So far, Davis has only produced a miserable batting average of .169, hitting only 4 home runs and driving in eight runs. As a result, fans have been calling to have Davis sent back down to the minor leagues until he gets his act together.

Meanwhile, the Mets bullpen has been disgraceful. After their last series, the Mets bullpen has pitched to a 5.38 earned run average, which is worst in the majors. Aside from young up and comer Bobby Parnell, the bullpen consists of old, washed up pitchers who couldn’t find a job on other teams. Scott Rice, LaTroy Hawkins and Robert Carson have all underperformed, losing many games that should have been won.

The starting pitching staff isn’t too helpful either. The one bright side on the Mets starting pitching staff is young star Matt Harvey. The Mets have won all games that Harvey started this year, and have gone 5-13 in games he has not appeared in. Jon Neise, Jeremy Hefner and Shaun Marcum have all underperformed, giving up many runs and not pitching deep into games. As a result, they get pulled out of the game early, causing our already untalented bullpen to pitch more and more innings.

Things are not looking good; it appears that most fans will have to wait until at least 2014 for any signs of hope. 

Dan Longarino is a junior at St. Thomas Aquinas College pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts.

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