Why I hate Mets fans

Now, I realize writing a column called “Why I hate Mets fans” on a blog about the New York Mets may seem, well, stupid.  I myself must be a Mets fan, right?  So do I hate myself?  What’s up with this?

I have just reached a breaking point with Mets fans.  It started last year, when Shea Stadium became at times a very unpleasant place to play.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t for the road team, but the home team, which was often lustily booed for the smallest of miscues.  Never mind the fact that the 2008 Mets won 48 games at home, good for almost 60% of their home games.  But the team got off to a lousy start, and coming off of the collapse of 2007, this was unacceptable.  Even players like Aaron Heilman, who were admittedly lousy, deserved more leeway than what they received (by the way, Heilman pitched hurt the entire year and, now healthy, has gotten off to a great start in Chicago).

Fast forward to April 2009.  The Mets are off to another slow start.  This slow start has come after the second straight late-season collapse, so Mets fans seem even testier than usual.  Of course, we’re talking about a sample size of 21 games, or roughly 13% of the long season.  It’s the equivalent of giving up on an NFL team after 2 games after a 1-1 start, or giving up on an NBA or NHL team after 11 games after a 5-6 start.  This is a very, very small part of the schedule, with a lot of baseball left to play.

And yet, Mets fans with an undeserved sense of entitlement are now filling Citi Field with boos for the team’s best player, the face of the franchise, David Wright.  It’s bad enough booing fringe players who aren’t any good; I’ve never understood the point of booing your own team unless they demonstrate a noticable lack of effort.  You do not boo your team’s best player, ever, period.  That is just classless and it embarrasses me as a fan of the Mets.  David Wright may be the best player that has ever come through the Mets’ minor league system, a franchise cornerstone the likes of which this team has never seen before.  You do not boo that player.  If you boo that player, you are saying, “I don’t care about the great things that you have done in the past, you just struck out in this largely meaningless game and you are an asshole!”

David Wright isn’t playing to his full potential; I would be foolish to say otherwise.  That said, I wouldn’t say he has been actively bad; he’s hitting .280 with a .372 on base percentage and a .390 slugging percentage.  His power is way down, which is where the problem lies.  We can’t even blame that on Citi Field, because four of his six extra base hits have been at home.  He’s not making outs at a high rate, which is a very good thing.  His “clutch” stats don’t look like much right now, but despite foolhardy sports talk radio hosts and newspaper writers who say otherwise, Wright has always been a fine player in the clutch, as good or even a little bit better in those situations than in meaningless ones.  The problem is, folks tend to remember the failures much more than the successes, and that game against the Cubs with the tying run at third and nobody out still runs through the heads of many fans.

It’s this reactionary BS that has caused a rift between me and a large segment of the Mets fanbase.  I’m not doing a jig over the slow start, but I’m not losing my mind over it, either.  This is a good team.  David Wright is a good baseball player.  So is Carlos Beltran.  So are Jose Reyes, Carlos Delgado, Ryan Church, Daniel Murphy…even Luis Castillo is playing well at the moment.  Johan Santana is the best pitcher in baseball right now.  While John Maine, Mike Pelfrey, and even Oliver Perez are not pitching well, they aren’t so old or far enough removed from good seasons to where we shouldn’t expect them to get better.  I’m not making excuses for the team at all, I just think this has been a bad month and they will rebound and play better ball; there is too much talent for them not to do so.

Yet the negativity that surrounds this team makes me sick.  It’s like the perfect storm; take Mets fans living in the shadow of the latest Yankee dynasty, throw in a rabid New York media all-too-willing to throw gasoline on a fire to sell a few newspapers or radio ads, and add back-to-back heartbreaking ends to the season, and it seems that Mets fans have been pushed up to a new level of insanity.  Honestly, it’s embarrassing.  There are good, passionate fans out there, but they seem to be getting yelled over by the knuckleheads who just want to hate.  All that does is make Mets fans look like the worst fans in baseball, a fanbase that doesn’t deserve to witness a championship team, and a fanbase who no player in their right mind would want to play for.  It makes me feel embarrassed to wear my Mets jerseys, because I don’t want to be lumped in that segment of Mets fans.

It’s these sort of slow starts where Mets fans become obsessed with things that just don’t quantitatively help win ballgames, like hustle and grit.  Do people really think that the superstars on this team don’t hustle?  Jose Reyes had his issues with hustle last year, but Jerry Manuel nipped those in the bud and now I rarely, if ever, notice him failing to run out a ground ball.  Mets fans want to try to figure out a reason why so much talent isn’t winning, with answers ranging to “the team has too much talent – who’s going to bunt guys over???” to “this team doesn’t care if they win or lose!!!!” both of which seem absurd when you really think about them. 

How did the Mets manage to find not one, not two, but twenty-five separate guys who don’t care if they win or lose all at once?  What are the odds of that even happening?  You don’t become an elite, major league caliber talent without a drive to win every single game; lack of effort tends to weed players out by the major league level, if not shortly thereafter.  As for “too much talent,” that’s ridiculous.  The team hasn’t been losing because of a lack of sacrifice bunting; heck, Jerry Manuel has already bunted far more than I’m comfortable with, since I hate one-run strategies.  Trust me, in the annals of baseball lore, there has never, ever been a problem with teams having too much talent.  Ask fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates or Kansas City Royals if they’d rather have too much talent or no talent; those guys are all a bunch of scrappers because most of their players stink.

There’s basically one reason why this team isn’t winning ballgames right now; the starting pitching after Johan Santana stinks.  John Maine is the only starter with two quality starts.  Oliver Perez has been dreadful, Livan Hernandez is utterly finished, and Mike Pelfrey is struggling through injury and command issues.  Hopefully, this will improve, because the offense has been largely very good so far.  But that’s the reason.  The hitting has been good, the bullpen has been largely good (although I am concerned about Putz’s velocity and strikeouts both being down).  The starting pitching has stunk.  At some point, either Ollie, Maine, and Big Pelf are going to have to get better, or changes are going to have to be made.  Simple as that.

To answer my above question, no, I do not hate myself.  But it’s hard to consider myself a fan of the New York Mets when so many Mets fans are letting negativity run their perception of this ballclub.  I haven’t been happy about the way they have performed, but I have not once thought of booing another player on this team, and if I was going to start (after smacking myself in the head with a hammer a few times), I don’t think I’d start with David Wright.  He’s done too much for this ballclub to be deserving of such treatment.  I may be a fan of the Mets, but I’m no Mets fan.  If you’re content to boo the team’s stars because of your own frustrations with the team, then feel free to call yourself a Mets fan.  Just know you make those of us who don’t wish to be party to such negativity hang our heads in shame for being associated with the likes of you.

5 Responses to “Why I hate Mets fans”

  1. Joeadig says:

    Cox, Get off your high horse. I’ll boo them when they look like they’re not playing hard. And I’ll boo you when you say “how do you know they’re not playing hard?” Watch the damn game. A team with fire, with drive, with passion is fun to watch, even when they lose; so far, this team is NOT fun to watch. Take your head out of your own ass for a second and watch a game. These guys get a lead and then quit. They all expect someone else to do the work. I have never heard anyone say “maybe there are too many stars on the team” but now that I have, I think I may agree. Hit the ball to the right side if there’s a guy on second and take the out? No, not on this team. This team can’t let the stats fall. And where does that get you? Another runner left in scoring position. The Mets right now are 20th in MLB in runs scored. With this offense, that’s an absolute atrocity. Call it whatever you want, but it’s a failure. And it’s not that we “mets fans” are booing a bad start. It’s been the same damn story since the start of 2007 and you know it. I don’t think you’re more noble or more practical or more patient for not booing– I think you’re too much of a homer to recognize when your own team stinks.

  2. Chris Wilcox says:

    Joe, please go back and tell me where I didn’t say that this team didn’t stink. Of course they haven’t played well. I readily acknowledge this. But I don’t think that the team isn’t playing well because of any lack of effort or anything like that. They just haven’t gotten into a groove yet. It happens. At some point, I expect that this team is going to roll off a streak where they win 10 of 12 or something similar, and start to get back towards winning baseball. Is it because they are trying harder during that particular streak? No, they just got more bounces to go their way and they played a little better.

    Since you’re coming out in favor of booing, can you please tell me what it accomplishes? From where I sit, it doesn’t accomplish anything. Are you going to sit there and tell me that the problem with David Wright is effort-related? You and I both know that is utterly ridiculous. Do you honestly watch this team play night in, night out, and think they aren’t trying hard? Again, ridiculous. It is presumptuous, and I’m going to add, borderline crazy to think that this team isn’t playing hard. They just aren’t playing to their capabilities. Does that mean that they won’t start playing to their capabilities? No, it’s a long season.

    As far as the claim “they quit and hope somebody else does the heavy lifting,” please tell me you don’t honestly believe that. Because I think of you as a smart guy, and that is a dumb statement. It really is. Do you think last year, with everybody on the planet knowing that the Mets bullpen was terrible, that no lead was ever safe, that this team would EVER quit in the later innings?

    Do you even care that the Mets had the best record in the majors when trailing after 7 innings, and the 6th best record when trailing after 8? Do those things matter to you at all? Because they tell me that this team didn’t quit, and even when trailing, they mustered together some nice comeback wins. Those are facts, Joe, and I know you’ll come back with the arrogant statement “Don’t talk to me about numbers, I KNOW THE GAME” (I’m surprised you don’t like Mike Francesa, because in a lot of ways, you’re alike) but they sure do seem to bear out the fact that this team does not quit in the late innings.

    Do you really think it makes Mets fans look good that a player like David Wright is getting booed this early in the season? Do you think that makes us a better fanbase? Because from where I sit, it makes our fanbase look horrible, and it embarrasses me every time I hear it. Booing great players for getting off to mediocre (not even bad, just mediocre) starts makes us look like a bunch of whiny, self-absorbed, “what have you done for me lately” assholes with a false sense of entitlement. “What, you dare not hit 1.000 with runners in scoring position? BOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

    I’m not a homer, but I am a rational person, or at least I try to be. I look at this team, and I see a team that is underachieving, a team that isn’t playing well, and a team that I fully expect will play better in the months ahead. Good teams have bad months, bad teams have good months. There’s a lot of baseball left to play. You can’t get too high on the highs, or low on the lows, and when you start going around playing the blame game on players like Wright, players who helped tear this team out of the abyss of the early 00’s (or have you forgotten about the 68-75 win teams from 2002 to 2004 already?) that should be immune to boos, because without them, this team isn’t going anywhere. Nothing has EVER been accomplished by booing superstars.

  3. tjv101 says:

    Gentlemen, Gentlemen…let’s stop the fighting here…at least let me get some popcorn first. Cox, you wrote an interesting article here. You are a frustrated Mets fan as is Joe. Both of you (like me) want this team to win. One wants the team to win…now (that’d be Joe) and one thinks this team is good enough to start winning during the long season(that’d be Cox). One is all about booing when he doesn’t see a good product on the field (that’d be Joe), the other is in Cupcake land thinking this team is going to go on a roll at some point during the season(that’d be Cox). I believe both of you make valid points but I see things a bit differently. For one, I don’t believe this team is going to go on a roll this season unless Johan Santana can pitch every day. This team is playing like they have the last two Septembers. Unfortunately, they started this way in game 1 of the 2009 season and not game 150. Most Met fans have a bitter taste in their mouth after the last few years of playoff futility. Joe, like myself, is very frustrated with this team. I don’t feel like they are not playing hard, I just feel like they are tip-toeing around as if walking on eggshells. I feel this team can not get clutch hits, can’t hold a lead, can’t get a lead after the 5th inning, and pretty much are treading water. Thankfully, the rest of the NL East isn’t playing very well either and the Mets are still hanging around.

    To the booing…I am not a fan of booing David Wright. I will not be booing David Wright this year. This man is the face of this franchise for years to come. He has shown the last few seasons that he can play ball. He bleeds blue and orange. This guy’s our captain and will right this ship. He has also shown that he can be pretty streaky as well. Right now, he is in a rut… a big fat rut…probably the worst of his career. Fortunately, he is too talented of a hitter not to get out of it and then tear it up. I can see booing the secondary talent (Castillo, Perez, any one in the bullpen not named Putz or K-Rod) but you can’t boo your home grown stars like Reyes and Wright.

    I just hope they can put it together sooner than later. Mets fans are impatiently waiting.

  4. Chris Wilcox says:

    I am not living in “Cupcake Land,” I just knew that this team was better than they had been playing and would eventually start playing to their capabilities, and that the impatient fans who are giving up on this team after 25 games might feel silly about that when the season is as long as it is. Since I wrote that, they have won 5 of 6 and have looked much better, with still more room for improvement (Reyes hasn’t really gotten going, the starting pitching outside of Johan and maybe Maine hasn’t been that great; Livan and Big Pelf have been more lucky than good).

    It’s not some deluded homer fantasy, any unbiased observer could see that the Mets have too much talent to be bad for long. Ironically, the fans who have been most down about this team since day one seem to be Mets fans; most experts thought the Mets would win the NL East this year, yet few Met fans seem to believe that. Yet somehow I’m the homer for going against the grain of my fellow Mets fans and having a belief that this team is better than they have played so far and would eventually turn things around. Strange.

  5. tjv101 says:

    The Mets are winning games but it hasn’t been pretty. Last nite was one of the few nites when their offense showed some “pop.” The continuosly fail to bring in RISP, score runs after the 3rd inning, and play shoddy defense. Its just that the NL East is so bad that being around .500 is good enough to put you close to First Place. When I consistently can see this team score runs, put together a few weeks of good starts, and hit with RISP…then I will say that they are “on a roll.” I guess you didn’t like my “cupcake land” reference…which I thought was pretty darn funny.

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