February 25, 2011 2 Comments
I’ve been a Mets fan since the team was formed, but I’ve only been a Mets writer since 2004. Frankly, 2011 is the first year that I’m not writing some kind of prediction where the Mets will finish, or some feature on what it will take for them to make it to the World Series.
There’s no reason for either this season. The Mets are not in a pennant race and, thus, the entire climate of the camp has changed.
There are obvious changes that surround all that are there, like, err… a new General Manager and Manager.
The field manager is really different. He doesn’t stand in the middle of the off-limits area of the pitching mounds and it seems like he’s actually looking for reporters to ask him a question. Beat writers aren’t used to this. Jerry didn’t want to talk to anyone outside of a press conference. Willie was basically in a press coma.
Then there was the bowling night. That’s right… bowling. Two years ago, Tony B. was running around the hotel doing bed checks. This year, it’s pins and brew at Duffy’s with management and crew.
But the biggest change has been the owners. In the past, they wanted their team to win the World Series. This spring, they’re just trying to make minimum payments on their Visa.
I talked with one of my contacts today and asked what the big story was out of camp. He wasted very little time. It was the Knicks trade.
He also pointed out that it is obvious that the lack of pressure on the core of this team has already translated into a more positive clubhouse. New friendships are being made and players aren’t looking over their shoulder to see if some new dude just got dropped off by a local cab.
This reeks of intelligent organization. Starters know they’re starters. The subs know they’re less minor leaguers around the main clubhouse. And elite minor leaguers found out on Thursday that they are elite.
The competiton for SP4 and SP5 actually seems calm and the only true question is who’s going to play second. No, this isn’t the spring training I’ve been used to the last few years.
This isn’t a team that is rebuilding. How do you rebuild something that hasn’t won in over 20 years?
No, this is a BUILDING process, being built by intelligent baseball people who have been given the authority to do what they do best. In a morose sense, ownership has developed its own problem off the field and, maybe that’s a good thing. Fans don’t have to worry whether Jeff, Fred, or Omar made the last decision.
Right now, this is Sandy’s team.
And my guess, it will remain that way through the 2012 season.
And then, we’ll get back to predictions.