It’s that time of year again: as the calendar changes from 2009 to 2010, tradition requires us to make our annual list of resolutions for the New Year. In that spirit, I present to you my resolutions for 2010 regarding the New York Mets:
I resolve to limit my negativity. I originally wanted this to read “I resolve to stay positive”. I wanted to focus on the Mets’ positives, accentuate their strengths, and present the case that they deserve the benefit of the doubt in 2010, but I wasn’t up to it. The last-day collapses of 2007 and ’08, the outright disaster that was 2009, and the hated Phillies and Yankees winning the past two World Series combined to shatter my rose colored glasses. My negativity regarding the team’s on-field performance was topped only by my anger with ownership and the front office, who at times seemed to intentionally try to piss off the fans. Objectively, I can’t sing the Mets’ praises and hope to remain honest. The best I can do is try not to obsess over their failures, find silver linings when I can, and make omelets if they lay eggs. And so I resolve to make the best of the Mets’ situation in 2010, wherever and whenever I can.
I resolve to better appreciate Citi Field. I know this resolution sounds weird because Citi Field is a massive improvement over Shea Stadium (objectively speaking). However, while the open concourses, wider seats, and expanded food selections were huge upgrades, Citi Field itself never quite felt like home in 2009. Look, I know it’s asking a lot to recreate 40-plus years of history in a brand-new building but it felt like ownership barely tried,* which pretty much ruined it for me. So this year I resolve to do my best to ignore every emotional impulse I have to hate the place. For better or worse, Citi Field is our new baseball home and I’m going to try to embrace it as best I can.
*I’m doing my best to live up to my first resolution despite my overwhelming feeling that the Wilpons mostly ignored their team’s fans when they designed Citi Field. Whether it be obstructed views (or whatever management calls these), unfriendly ticket packages, or a failure to incorporate Mets colors or history in the original stadium design, the owners dropped the ball. I know that opening such a large facility is difficult and not everything can be addressed by opening day (or even the end of the year) but really, is it so hard to address their customers’ basic expectations?
Let me give you some context: I lived in Philadelphia from September 2003 through December 2005, and I attended the third game (and first night game) at Citizen’s Bank Park. The Phillies’ bullpen had yet to be relocated below the visitor’s bullpen and yes, I was witness to a crowd of Phillies “fans” yelling obscenities at their own relief pitchers. So I understand that certain design deficiencies can’t be identified until a ballpark has been in operation. But let’s be clear: the Phillies’ Hall of Fame was in place on day one, retired numbers and championship banners were prominently displayed, evidence of past glory was on display throughout the field-level concourse, and the Phillies colors (red, white, and blue) were prominently on display throughout the park. The Phillies knew enough to include these items from day one, why couldn’t the Mets?
I resolve to better appreciate Carlos Beltran. Carlos Beltran is one of the best players in the game today, but I’d argue that he’s been under-appreciated during his time in New York. Sure, he could have swung at a certain pitch in 2006 and yes, he’s been hampered by injuries in his time with the Mets, but he’s the best center fielder to play in New York since Mickey Mantle*. I resolve to enjoy watching him play in 2010, because he’ll be gone before we know it.
*I really, really wanted to go with Willie Mays here but I just couldn’t. The Giants left New York for San Francisco before Mantle’s career peaked so he gets the nod. And yes, I’m taking a shot at Bernie Williams here. I’m well aware of how many World Series rings Williams owns, but don’t forget that he would’ve found himself out in left field had the Yankees landed Beltran in 2005. And he threw like a girl. So I’m going with Mantle.
Finally, I resolve to link to this video early and often. I admit to trying to drive an ill-conceived Oliver Perez bandwagon in 2009…not my finest moment. Ollie is frustrating. Ollie is maddening. Ollie is downright infuriating. But he’s facing a situation similar to Luis Castillo’s prior to 2009: he signed a big deal and immediately failed to live up to the expectations it created. And now we get to see what Ollie is really made of. There is no more potential, no more speculation on whether he can harness his talents. Others may argue that his window has closed (and I have little to contradict them), but I’ll reply that 2010 is his final opportunity. Ollie will succeed or (much more likely) fail, but I resolve to be there to record every outing.
Those are my resolutions for the 2010 season. What are yours?