Another season over, another unwanted chance for Mets fans to say next year will be better. Given the way this year went, that’s almost inevitable. How many more bad breaks can a team get?
It’s rarely been easy to be a Mets fan, outside of those brief shining moments in 1969 and 1986 — we can never forget Tom Seaver’s mastery of the mound or Bill Buckner’s beautifully timed error. Accustomed to frequent disappointments, the faithful can revel in our memories while we try to forget most of what went on this year. The sign one fan held up in the final game said it all: “Thank God it’s over.”
But even for longtime fans who think they’ve seen everything, this year was especially disappointing, as we were looking forward to a great season in a great new ballpark, and instead had to watch injury after injury pile up, crippling a team that had looked so promising in the spring.
Even Citi Field itself turned out to be less than it should be, with the revelation of construction problems including leaks that have caused serious water damage, mold, flooding in some seating areas and even falling signs.
Dark jokes about the stadium reflecting the quality of the play on the field aside, Queens certainly should have gotten more for the $850 million spent on building it — most of it publicly financed through bonds.
And even before the infrastructure problems were exposed, many fans were struck by the inexplicable lack of Mets pride evident in the park. Management couldn’t even bother to have the ushers wear the team colors — an oversight that just makes no sense. And why is there no equivalent of the Yankees’ Monument Park? The Mets have had their share of stars over the last 47 years — not just Seaver but everyone from Ed Kranepool, Dave Kingman and Nolan Ryan — whose only World Series appearance was as a Miracle Met — to Doc Gooden, Mike Piazza, Darryl Strawberry and today’s David Wright.
Maybe, after the team fixes up Citi Field, establishing a wall of fame of some sort could be put on the agenda. It would be a nice thing for the fans to see in time for the team’s 50th anniversary season in 2012.
Of course those high-spending pinstriped divas in the Bronx have none of these problems. Their new stadium seems to be as rock-solid as the team’s performance this year. Being the damn Yankees, the Bronx bums couldn’t just finish the season on top of their division, their stars had to do things like break all-time hits records (Jeter) and knock in seven RBIs in the last game of the season, four of them on a grand slam (Rodriguez).
At this point we Mets fans shouldn’t even bother thinking our team can compete with the likes of the spoiled Yanks anytime soon. Next season is nearly as unlikely to result in a subway series as this one was. But 2010 can and should be about rebuilding the team to a respectable level and then going from there.
At least management did one thing right in the waning days of the season: cut ticket prices. They were pretty high to start with, and seemed simply outrageous given the team’s dismal performance. Major League Baseball may enjoy an exemption from the anti-trust laws that bars direct competition, but that doesn’t mean fans can’t find another place to spend their entertainment dollars.
Here’s hoping that next year our team does well enough so fans don’t mind the cost of seeing them play. Mets fever is still out there, and we’ll all catch it again.