I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and enjoyed the extra day off yesterday to recuperate or to return gifts at the mall. I’m still fighting off fatigue this morning, my first day back to work in 3 days, from the holiday and from a huge sports weekend.
It all started for me on Friday night as I attended the Rangers-Flyers game at a jammed packed Madison Square Garden. The Rangers are playing their best hockey in years and with a win last night against the Icelanders have the best record in the NHL Eastern Conference. The Garden rocked like it hasn’t in many years and Rangers fans have fallen in love with this team made up of mainly homegrown players with top notch free agent signings (Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards) that have made the Garden faithful cautiously optimistic for a deep Stanley Cup run.
Then on Saturday, I was in front of my TV totally engrossed in the Giants-Jets battle in the Meadowlands. The Jets got the ball first and tore through the Giants soft as a marshmallow defense for a touchdown and I thought the G-Men were going to ruin my Christmas but thanks to Brian Shottenheimer and Roarin’ Rex Ryan who forgot that Mark Sanchez and not Joe Namath was QB’ing there team. It was a 99 yard TD from Eli Manning to the newest Giants star Victor Cruz (my family did not appreciate my Cruz Salsa dance I performed in the living room after Cruz crossed the end zone) that changed the whole game and put Rex and Shotty into a panic giving the Giants a big win. As the game ended two guys who are more similar than they realize, Rex Ryan and Brandon Jacobs, traded insults instead of holiday greetings. I now had two of the three wins I wanted for Christmas.
On Christmas day while everyone wanted to open presents and eat and eat and eat, I watched the clock hit high noon and screamed out ‘WELCOME BACK NBA!!!!!” I was thisclose to going on Stub Hub and grabbing a couple of tickets for the game at MSG between the Knicks and Celtics as I try to never miss a chance to see my C’s when they come to town. However it is not in my nature to get into a screaming match on the Baby Jesus Birthday with my wife so I as much as my finger was twitching to click on “BUY”, I stepped away from the computer and went back upstairs to spread holiday cheer and make sure I secured the TV for 12:00. My favorite Celtic player is Rajon Rondo, in fact of all the teams I root for Rondo and Henrik Lundqvist are neck and neck for the title of my favorite player of any team I root for (Eli Manning would be my favorite Giant as for the Mets…hummmm… I’ll get back to you on that….) and to watch that performance by Rondo against the Knicks, made me even more joyous that Danny Anige didn’t deal him off for Chris Paul.
Last night after another Rangers win and sitting with my family and reflecting on a having just a great holiday weekend, I looked around the room at our Christmas tree and the stockings hanging from the mantle and back to reality I returned. First I stared at my Mets Christmas stocking, then I studied the various Mets ornaments on the tree, Mr. Met, 1986 World Champions, David Wright and on the top of one of the dining room chairs, my Mets Christmas hat. It hit me and hit me hard, it’s quite likely that the Mets will not bring me the joy and excitement in 162 games, that the three other sports teams I root for gave me in a weekend. Quite depressing.
It got me thinking, I cannot be the only one who feels this way. How many of you are multiple sports fans? I then started to think about the men who own the teams I root for and how different the all are.
The Rangers are owned by Cablevision and Jim Dolan is in charge of both the Rangers and Knicks. Thankfully for Rangers fans, Dolan hates hockey, he loves the revenue it brings in but he leaves the hockey folks alone and for that we Ranger fans are grateful. One thing about Dolan, he has no problem spending money and if Slats Sather feels a player (Gaborik, Richards) is worth the dough and fits the salary cap he always gets the green light to spend.
The NY Football Giants are owned by both the Mara and Tisch families but John Mara is the man who makes the decisions for the team. Mara is what you want in a team owner, his family is football royalty, he has a presences in the league that is second only to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell , and he’s all about winning.
The Celtics are owned by a syndicate but the managing partner and NBA Governor is Wyc Grousbeck. Grousbeck has brought back the history and mystique of the Celtics. Just about every game at the TD Garden, there are numerous Celtics of the past attending the game. I’ve mentioned before that I had the pleasure of meeting Grousbeck a few times at MSG and not only had great conversations with him but he even let me try on the 2008 Championship ring. Now that’s an owner. Which brings me to the Skill Sets.
No matter how bad a season any of those three teams have, I’ve always been confident that the ownership of those teams will pull out all stops to make the teams better. I never, ever get that feeling with the Wilpon’s. Even when they were flush with In Bernie We Trust currency, I’ve never had confidence that they would just supply the resources to the men running the team to make baseball decisions that would make the Mets better. It was never the Wilpon’s allowing the baseball people make baseball decision it was always, sure you can visit Player A to talk contract, but you have to take Jeff with you. Now I cannot say for certain that the other owners I’ve named are not meddlesome (especially Dolan but he is more hands on with the Knicks than Rangers) but if they have it’s never been brought out like it has with Jeff Wilpon. Whether it was flying to meet Mike Cameron on the Mets private jet to get him to sign as a free agent, or being golf buddies with Tom Glavine and Al Leiter or just forcing himself on the baseball operations when he had no baseball knowledge what so ever.
With all the money woes the Wilpon’s have the one good thing has been that Sandy Alderson has run the baseball ops as he wants and with no money to spend ,Jeff has been a non-factor in player moves, which would be a positive if the Mets had money to spend.
Yesterday the Chicago Cubs signed RHP Andy Sonnestine and RHP Manny Corpas to non-guaranteed deals. The Mets with the lack of depth in the pitching department both on the big league and Triple A level should have been in on both these chuckers. I know neither Sonnestine nor Corpas are enough to really get Mets fans hot and bothered about but it just shows how the cash situation is so bad with the Mets that they can’t even bid on two arms like this.
The angst of the Mets fan is not towards the players or the front office; it’s all on the owners. Mets fans who decide to not go to Citi Field or watch games on SNY or buy Met merchandise will do so because of their anger at the Wilpon’s for not falling on the sword and doing the right thing by selling the team. No matter what happens on the field this coming season, this team will be followed by the Wilpon black cloud all season long unless the financial situation reaches to catastrophic proportions and Fred, Jeff and Uncle Saul are thrown out on their ass . What sucks most of all, many Mets fans that I talk to don’t want to talk actual baseball, they all want to talk about the Wilpon’s selling the team. That is the number one subject on the Mets fans mind, not will Wright and Bay rebound or will Santana bounce back or will Ike have the breakout season, nope, it’s when the fuck are the Wilpon’s selling the team and that won’t end until the Skill Sets are gone. It’s shame for them , a shame for Mets fans and a shame for baseball.