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2009 has been an excruciating year for New York Mets baseball fans. This was to be a new season filled with hope and high expectations. Their front office had a busy off season solidifying a once horrid bullpen with big names such as single season saves record holder Francisco Rodriguez, solid closer turned set-up man JJ Putz and rubber armed long reliever Sean Green accompanying left handed specialist Pedro Feliciano. Their lineup was to be a run scoring machine led by David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado. Shea Stadium was torn down and replaced by state of the art Citi Field. New excitement, better team, deep minor league organization. And then.....
At first, Citi Field opened to rave reviews for its' presentation of Jackie Robinson Rotundra. Thousands of fans quickly soured on the new park for varying reasons beginning with ownership's lack of homage towards team history. Many season ticket holders soon complained of obstructed views from their expensive seats. The field itself is so expansive we all quickly realized it would never be thought of as a hitters paradise. During the seasons first month, New York talk radio was filled with irate phone callers agitated claiming Citi Field was built for Dodgers fans instead of our hometown Mets ball club. It wasn't the beginning ownership had hoped for their $800 million dollar stadium debut.
Things quickly worsened on the field as the Mets began with a losing record in April dropping 12 of 21 contests. Rumors of ownership losing hundreds of millions in the well publicized Madoff scandal didn't help matters either. New York was able to rebound nicely in May claiming a two game NL East lead sporting a 19-15 record before the wheels started falling off. Mets players began dropping like flies. Disabled list casualties began mounting. Key players Delgado, Schneider, Reyes, Beltran, Pagan, Maine, Castillo, Church and Putz were lost. Replacement players offered little to no help. GM Minaya has been peppered relentlessly by media types questioning when the team would make a deal to secure quality and "talented" players to fill gaping voids. No trades were completed, no free agents in waiting were signed. It was very evident to everyone paying attention... New York Mets franchise was in deep trouble both financially and by a lack of minor league talent.
Stars out of action created a circus-like atmosphere on the field resembling the Bad News Bears. Fielders booted the most simple of plays. Sure handed second sacker Luis Castillo's dropped game ending non-catch vs cross town rival Yankees is still being replayed. I attended a home game at Citi when the Mets made 3 errors in one inning without a ball leaving the infield (unless it was thrown away). There's next to no power coming from any hitters... certainly none on a consistent basis. Clutch hits are far and few between. Scouts league wide have suggested it's nearly impossible to trade with the Mets based on an overall lack of minors talent. Desperately needing a boost from somewhere, the front office refused to re-sign free agent Pedro Martinez. Albeit, Pedro was a multi-million dollar bust. But, this is a team in need and they passed only to watch arch rival Philadelphia sign him two weeks ago. As of right now, Mets trail first place Phillies by 10.5 games.
It hasn't been any better in the Mets farm system. New York's top farm clubs are flirting with last place. Bernazard was just fired after the New York Daily News ran an investigative story detailing how he ripped off his shirt and challenged members of the Mets' Double-A Binghamton affiliate to a brawl during a postgame tirade this month. Binhamton players were not performing and often spotted partying hard on nights before games. He also had run-ins with Mets closer Rodriguez. Rumors cited excutive Tony Bernazard had actively lobbied for Willie Randolph's firing last year. Bernazard was said to be very adament in pressuring management to can Randolph until they finally did midway through last season. Finally, after this was all made public, something had to be done. Minaya canned the temperamental Bernazard.
The firing of Bernazard was expected. However, during the press conference announcing his dismissal Minaya seemed to self implode too. Instead of sticking with the plan of announcing the firing, Minaya went sideways implying NY Daily News reporter Adam Rubin had ulterior motives. Here are a few excerpts of what transpired at Monday's press briefing concerning Rubin who first broke the Bernazard fight challenge story.
"You got to understand this: Adam for the past couple of years has lobbied for a player development position. He has lobbied myself, he has lobbied Tony," Minaya said.
Rubin was in attendance and jumped on Minaya's comments which seemed to question his motives. Minaya tripped over his own words a bit. "No, I'm not saying that," Minaya said. "I am saying, in the past, you have lobbied for a job."
"Over the years he said a number of times that he would like ... he asked me personally ... to work in the front office," Minaya said, "in my front office. Not only me, but he's asked others."
I think it's safe to say this is a side story ready to explode. I watched reports from ESPN's nightly telecast and read a story on their site posted early this morning which quotes Rubin being "flabbergasted" and NY Daily News standing behind their reporter, and his story, "1000%". No one has refuted the article detailing Bernazard or the Mets minor league system in shambles. No one. So, it leaves me wondering why Minaya would offer up a side show against a NY reporter?
This is the Mets team "Minaya" built. It's the Mets team known as "Magic-less" after back to back September chokes. It's the injury riddled team currently sitting in fourth place without any help in sight. It's the team getting beaten often on the field (18-30 since June 1), pounded by fans and hounded by reporters all season long. It's a team not only losing games. Management has completely imploded by missteps, miscommunication and complete failure to resemble any sort of professionalisim within their organization. I can't wait to turn on sports talk radio stations later this morning. It's going to be a blast. Mets back to back wins have been overshadowed by last night's Minaya outburst. What a shame for a team which hasn't won more than two in a row since the end of May!
Guess what fans? Good news is to be had between all this negativity brewing in Flushing. The most positive event bestowed on fans is there will be no September collapse this season! Second most positive event comes from the Bronx. New York Yankees are looking stronger by the day as they try tightening their grip on the AL East lead.
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