Earlier this week, the worst you could say about the New York Mess (er, Mets) was a piece of doggerel I sketched to Prince’s “1999,” after a Miami Marlins baserunner stumbled, bumbled, and fumbled down the third base line—and still stole home:
Two thousand, 2020, party over—oops! Shame on you!
Tonight we’re gonna party like it’s 1962.
A Met fan since the day they were born can tell you that, compared to loving the Mets, it was easier for Mad Men‘s Don Draper (who kept a souvenir Mets pennant in his office) to be loved by his first and second wives, neither of whom found it simple and both of whom, their own flaws to one side, often felt like singing “19th Nervous Breakdown.”
Draper was haunted by having been born and raised in abject hell, if “raised” is the proper word to describe a child treated like a home invader and handed an accidental chance to remake/remodel himself in a wartime accident that killed his field commander. The Mets weren’t quite born in hell, but they’ve been haunted by managements that often treated them like home invaders.
The Mets have been built, un-built, re-built, un-built, re-built again, and un-built again, more often than Orpheus rolled the stone up the mountain to be rolled back down. Today the Mets are on the sales floor. And the Wilpons, who have never been quite the same since they walked into Bernie Madoff’s pyramid trap and walked out fortunate that their heads weren’t removed from their shoulders, simply can’t go gently into that good gray night.
Thursday’s Twitterverse exploded with the news from ESPN’s Jeff Passan that Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, a man seen in over his head when speaking politely of him, zapped commissioner Rob Manfred for the thought that the Mets and the Marlins might walk off the field tonight in protest, over the police shooting of African-American Jacob Blake, only to return to play an hour later.
Until he didn’t. Within less time than it once took for Mike (The Human Rain Delay) Hargrove to complete a plate appearance, Van Wagenen hustled a statement forth saying, whoops! The idea was really Jeff Wilpon’s, not Manfred’s, after Wilpon was informed the Mets’ players voted not to play tonight, a decision with which the Marlins apparently concurred. Van Wagenen concurrently apologised for the original Manfred remark.
What the Mets actually did was take the field, led by Dominic Smith and Billy Hamilton, two African-American Mets. The Marlins did likewise. Both teams observed 42 seconds of silence (the 42 refers, of course, to Jackie Robinson’s uniform number), then walked off the field. The idea was that of the Marlins’ Miguel Rojas. The game was postponed, just as three were on the same grounds Wednesday.
This after Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw stood with his teammates standing together when Mookie Betts opted not to play Wednesday. Observing the negative backlash, Kershaw said, “Yes, I have seen those comments and that’s okay because I feel we’re doing the right thing.” Among other things were those backlashers accusing the Dodgers of standing up for a convicted child molester.
The now-paralyzed Blake isn’t a sterling citizen, of course, and he dealt with Kenosha, Wisconsin police last weekend in the first place over an arrest warrant involving a domestic dispute with his estranged girlfriend, with whom he has three children. The child molestation/child sex assault charges have been debunked. (Yes, you can look it up.)
A criminal suspect’s right not to be shot seven times in the back isn’t contingent on the crime he’s accused of committing. Jack Ruby wasn’t a cop but prying through a small crowd to shoot presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald to death didn’t make him any less a murderer.
And those police officers who succeed in performing their jobs without becoming the criminals they’re consecrated to apprehend must be grotesquely appalled whenever one of their breed commits if not succeeds at such attempted murder, knowing as they’re trained to know that absent a bona fide life-and-death moment they’re not sworn in to exercise absolute power of life and death.
Today’s clumsiness is just the latest in a bill of particulars a Met fan and others can lodge against the Wilpon ownership and its administrative subordinates while agreeing the sooner their ownership ends, the better. However, Met fans may well be advised to be very careful what they wish for.
Steve Cohen, who now has a small ownership stake in the Mets but would like to buy the team outright, seemed at first like the ideal choice having grown up a Met fan himself. But reports earlier this month imply that sexual discrimination charges filed recently against his Point72 Asset Management hedge fund firm would compromise him as the next Mets owner.
A team in the middle of a surrealistic enough truncated season in which the game’s players now speak and act on behalf of battling racism, discrimination, and the criminal element within law enforcement can’t afford to become the property of a man whose own company may have issues with discrimination.
But Alex Rodriguez (former Mariners/Rangers/Yankees star (however tainted) turned broadcaster) also aspires to own as big a stake in the Mets as he and his paramour Jennifer Lopez can buy. And Rodriguez is said “in touch” with suspended former Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, whose results uber alles mentality did too much to reduce the Astros from champions to pariahs.
Luhnow’s administration was exposed plausibly as lacking human decency to match its cold analytical inclinations, while fostering concurrently conditions that made possible the Astrogate illegal electronic sign-stealing scandal that stained the kings of the American League West (and 2017 world champions) until, possibly, the entire roster and organisation are turned over in due course.
The good news is that Rodriguez isn’t said to be thinking of Luhnow as his GM should he win his stake in the Mets, and Luhnow can’t be employed in baseball again until 2021, assuming anyone in baseball wants him. The bad news is that, if that’s who A-Rod leans upon for even informal counsel, be afraid, Mess fans. Be very afraid.