FIFTY THOUSAND MOONS
Thursday, October 22, 2015
Posted by el duque at 6:47 AM
Over the next four years, with Fred Wilpon screaming like a stuck pig, the Mets continually finished fourth in a remarkably bad five-team division, unable to finish last due to the reverse genius of the Washington Nationals. (If Bernie Madoff had happened three years earlier, who knows? The Mets today might have Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg.)
Hamstrung by their poor-mouthing billionaire owner, the Mets could not buy star players like Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, though they wouldn't have spat in Beltran's direction, considering that their last memory of hope - until now - was of Carlos watching a meatball bisect the plate - strike three - ending their post-season. Ahh, memories...
Anyway, over the four years following Bernie Madoff, the Mets always drafted high. They selected Matt Harvey in the first round - just the seventh player picked - and Stephen Matz in the second round. They drafted several trade chips and prospects who are still bobbing through the system. They drafted Michael Conforto with the 10th pick in the draft. They succeeded through the approved gentlemanly way: They sucked.
Yep. That's how you do it. Just suck. Come in fourth enough times, and the sheer volume of your high draft picks and low payroll eventually will bring a resurgence. That's the reality of modern professional sports. If you wait your turn, if you take your losses, you eventually will be good for a while. Tampa did it. Houston, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, the Cubs - they all did it. It's the gentlemen's agreement among the owners. Just suck, wait your turn, and everything will be OK.
That's why Bud Selig hated the Yankees. Old George didn't play the gentleman's game. (His son, Prince Hal, is conflicted about it. He wants to feed his siblings, each of whom wants their cut, and he wants to honor his dad, too.) That's why Jerry Jones and Bill Belichik are hated in the NFL. They don't play by the rules.
So the Mets are on top, and let's face it: They'll be good for three to five years, until the low draft picks and the salary caps take over. The question is whether the Yankees will continually chase that extra Wild Card birth - the mirage - which they won this year with a record that was 6 games over .500. In other words, we are stuck in Purgatory, going nowhere.
I'm not sure sure which option is more repugnant - waiting your turn, or constantly chasing the one-game mirage. But the Yankees used to be the only pro team in American sports that you could count on. Now, that team does not exist. They are just another franchise, owned by just another owner's son, and they're too rich for their own good, and the best thing that could happen to Yankee fans might be a financial adviser who suddenly calls his family together and unfurls a map of Upper Canada.