Mets Fans of Tomorrow

There’s an old episode of The Simpsons you may have seen where Bart and Milhouse are squaring off against each other on the diamond when Bart says, “Look at me! I’m Tomokazu Ohka of the Montreal Expos!” and Milhouse retorts with “Well, I’m Esteban Yan of The Tampa Bay Devil Rays!” It’s as funny now as it was when it first aired, given the unlikelihood of kids finding attributes worth emulating in obscure sub-superstars at the pro level. As we lurch toward another post-season we’ll have no part of, you have to wonder how we keep the children interested. Didn’t Whitney Houston tell us she believed they are our future? Sweeping a double-header from the Fish is all well and good, but if you’re staring up at a fourteen-plus game lead for the wild card heading into September you need some heroes on the team, that is, if you’re going to get anybody with 2.5 kids at home filling out the seats in the Promenade Reserved section.

With all the various setbacks this year we’ve still been lucky enough to see Reyes’ batting average stay stellar while he leads the league in triples, but do the little sluggers get as caught up in the numbers as their supposedly adult counterparts rearranging their fantasy teams? Are these individual accomplishments what young fans find particularly heroic? Maybe he’ll win the National League batting title. That would be something.

Otherwise, who else can these kids look up to? Duda? This year’s only other Met all-star plays for another team. And Wright, the other face of the franchise, leads the team in homers with eleven; that lists him as #122 in the majors in the category. That’s not enough pop to make elementary schoolers beg for a t-shirt, is it? Maybe Nick Evans can keep it going until season’s end and inspire a Little Leaguer or two. I don’t think most organized youth teams have Triple-A affiliates, though. Not yet anyway.

Granted, I don’t have kids and usually feel a whole heck of a lot better when they’re not around, so maybe I shouldn’t worry that by 2025 I’ll be part of a dwindling group of graybeards who actually care what the starting lineup is in Queens. By then, people like my fifth-grade nephew will be in their twenties; he lives in Florida and is a rabid Mets-hating Marlins fan who, considering his team affiliation of choice, may have bigger problems later in his life, too. Then again, he’ll have that fancy new stadium to sit in with all the air conditioning his nostrils can take.

But family aside, I’m concerned with Mets children. Beyond feeling pity for their weeping parents or the chance to knock a Baltimore chop on Mr. Met’s Kiddie Field, the team’s been offering them little incentive to keep them interested these days.

I suppose I managed to stay a Mets fan through a childhood punctuated with consecutive losing records and a disinterested father who regularly took us to Shea with a thousand-page hardcover spy novel from the library. At least I had Rusty Staub.

That McFadden’s Gameday Ticket Package with the unlimited hour of drinks sounds pretty good right about now. Since it’s illegal for kids to have alcohol, it won’t help them out, though. Laws. Not only that, school starts in a few days. Forget about hot classrooms and homework, they’ll have to eat lunch with Yankees, Red Sox, and maybe Phillies fans who have reasons outside of Halloween to look forward to October. I don’t envy these kids one bit.

CM Gorey is a writer and musician from New York who lives in São Paulo, Brazil. A contributing writer for Time Out São Paulo magazine and online arts magazine Thalo, he is also a composer of TV and film soundtracks, and performer with the electro outfit White Light Lametta. Suffering from a distance, he watches slowly generated, pixelated Mets games on an old netbook. After careful consideration, he has to admit that the return to the classic uniforms was a smart choice, regardless of his penchant for black uniforms.
  1. Timo August 30, 2011 at 12:01 pm
    Never saw that Simpson episode but it does sound funny then and now.
    I don’t think the Met’s have an issue with young fans. I’m a diehard Met fan. However, when I was 6 years old, I was a Yankee fan. The biggest reason was Roy White and Thurmann Munson. I went trick or treating in 1976 and Roy White lived in Wayne NJ. He answered the door and gave me a signed calendar and candy. As a 6 year old, I thought that was the greatest thing. I became a Yankee fan. I also liked TM because he was an awesome catcher. I was a fan until 1979-80. TM died and RW retired. I had nothing to follow when those guys were gone. During that time, it was so hard to get Yankee tickets since they were WS Champions. My Uncle worked for the NY Times and could get tickets to games. He always got Mets tickets because nobody wanted them. My dad used to take my brother and I to the games during the time I was a Yankee Fan. After 1980, I only saw the NY Mets in person, so I became a Mets fan for life. I don’t remember any of the players I watched during that time for the Mets but could name the starting lineup for the Yankees. However, I’m a Mets fan not a Yankee fan. Mets tickets are easy to get now and the Mets front office are running deals that allow kids to come see a game for free. The kids won’t remember that Angel Pagan was our center fielder but will remember that they saw the Mets team play in person. The Yankees have been good since 1996 but have old players under major contracts. So, they may become the Yanks of the 80’s soon. I just hope the Mets turn it around and become the Mets of 1986 so we keep those kids who come now. Like they did with me.
    • Joe Janish August 30, 2011 at 9:38 pm
      Timo I had a similar history of fandom. I was a Mets fan first because of Willie Mays (my dad was a Mays fan), but in the mid-70s the Yankees were on TV more often than the Mets so that was the team I saw, and I fell in love with Munson, Graig Nettles, Lou Piniella, and Rich Gossage — the old school bad asses! I still had an allegiance to the Mets — loved Jerry Grote and then John Stearns — but they were only on TV once or twice a week and I didn’t get to a game until ’81. After Munson died and Gossage, Nettles, and Reggie Jackson left I stopped watching them.

      As mentioned, I do remember Grote and Stearns for their hard nosed play, and I remember enjoying watching Tom Seaver, Jon Matlack, Skip Lockwood, and Jerry Koosman pitch, and Dave Kingman’s bombs. Willie Montanez was AWESOME to watch — he was such a hot dog! And I will never forget Felix Millan choking up on the bat. But I also remember Richie Hebner being a jerk, and the Mets sending away Seaver and Kong for who knows why, and the team sinking into an abyss. It’s kind of like now, where they are on the verge of turning completely awful. If they let Reyes go it will compare to Seaver leaving. I imagine they’re smart enough to hold on to Wright, because if both Reyes and Wright leave, forget it — the youngins’ will start rooting for the Bronx Bombers.

  2. Robert Cosgrove August 30, 2011 at 3:52 pm
    Another great post. Reyes is definitely worth watching for the younger generation. Lose him and many young fans would go too….
  3. Jerseymet August 30, 2011 at 5:40 pm
    The silver lining of this season is cheap ticket prices. Yesterday 2 dollar tickets were avalible on stub hub. For a double header! Take advantage and bring your future Mets fans, it won’t break the bank!
  4. SiddFinch August 30, 2011 at 6:07 pm
    I grew up emulating Doug Flynn, thinking “Hendu” Henderson was vastly underrated, waiting for that year “Stormin'” Dan Norman would break through. Swan was our Ace, Zachery our 2 and the bespectacled professor-looking Skip Lockwood our closer. John Stearns, when he was healthy, was our best player even though Maz was the star. Those my friend were some pitiful teams, but they were my team, I rooted for them always thinking they were better than they actually were, even though deep down inside I knew they weren’t. I’m not sure if kids still have that undying loyalty to stick with a team when they suck, and truth be told, even I didn’t completely. I became a Royals fan to ease my childhood pain but they were my favorite AL team (though the Mets were always #1),. This Mets team has Reyes, Wright, Ike, Murph, Duda that’s a huge leap from Taveras, Randle, Montanez and Boisclair. This isn’t a bad team. They’re inconsistent and startlingly mediocre but the 2011 Mets have enough talent to be competitive and sometimes play at a high level, those Mets teams of my childhood were AAAA all the way. There is a lot to get excited about in the Minors too, some stud pitchers and more than a few future big league bats. The Mets team I grew up rooting for was, except for a Mookie or Hubie Brooks, pretty bereft of any semblance of farm talent. I think there’s plenty of players for fans to get excited about. A lot of times it’s not the Reyes or Wright’s but the Evans, Turner, Duda’s, Thole’s, Niese’s that kids gravitate towards. Why? Because the average LL’er can relate to them. Guys starting out or trying to make it. The teens already have Reyes, Wright, Pelfrey (I suppose) kids want to discover and make their own personal “stars” (so to speak). It’s not a bad time to be a Mets fan, maybe the best it’s been in a few years in fact. This is a much better team than ’09 or ’10 and a far cry from the nadir of the post-Seaver/pre-Straw years.
    • Joe Janish August 30, 2011 at 9:50 pm
      hmm … actually Duda is startlingly similar to Boisclair in his first two years, especially if you take into consideration the fact that pitching was more dominant in the 70s … Turner is not a huge upgrade over Flynn, or Joel Youngblood for that matter … Thole can’t shine Stearns’ shoes … Niese = Matlack; hopefully Niese isn’t traded for Willie Montantez … Pelfrey = Zachry … Evans is every bit Dan Norman, isn’t he? Comparing other Mets, would you take Angel Pagan over Lee Mazzilli? Willie Harris or Elliott Maddox? Will Dan Murphy hit .300 again, or be another Mike Vail? Jason Bay’s sudden drop in power is not dissimilar to the Tom Grieve story.

      I guess it’s all about perspective. But Wright and Reyes are the only ones who truly, in my mind, separate today’s Mets from that dark era between Seaver and Straw.

      • SiddFinch August 31, 2011 at 12:01 am
        Even with the difference in eras this year’s squad is not in the same category with a team whose high water mark in wins between ’77-’80 was 67. Boisclair had no power at any level he played. Duda runs like he has a piano on his back but his power would translate to the late ’70s. In fact, I don’t think the pitching is that far away from current day. Offenses picked it up in late ’70s and pitching has made a strong comeback since the ‘roids era passed. Reyes and Wright are definitely the stars, but each have missed their share of games this year. During the 58 games Wright missed the Mets played roughly .500 ball. So its unfair to say that without Reyes/Wright you’d be looking at a team on par with those post-Seaver ones. I don’t see the Flynn-Turner comparison. Flynn, no matter what era, would be a light stick. Turner has a career .816 Minor League OPS while Flynn’s highest OPS was .600 in 1980. The current .253 3.83 for avg NL BA and ERA this year is right in line where it was in the late ’70s. So I don’t think there’s as much of a difference between the offensive production or pitching dominance now as there was ’77-’80.

        The pitcher you’re thinking of Corey was John Pacella

        • Joe Janish August 31, 2011 at 2:58 am
          If this Mets team played in the 1970s they would win about 70 games. They’ve only won as many as they have this year because MLB stinks. There are 4-6 more teams now and that waters down the talent overall.

          Yeah Turner has a somewhat better OPS — it’s in the .680s right now, which is not great, and who cares what he did in the minors? — but Flynn brought a glove to the field that was superior to just about everyone else in the NL. Flynn’s outstanding glove plus his weak bat is about equal to Turner’s weak bat and weak glove. Mind you, I am a HUGE Turner fan and have been so since last spring. But I’m also able to remain objective.

          If you truly think that the pitching is as dominant today as it was in the 70s then we can’t even have a conversation, because my memory recalls nearly every team having people like Rod Gilbreath and Roger Metzger playing regularly.

        • SiddFinch August 31, 2011 at 10:44 am
          The Mets aren’t awful team in 2011 and they wouldn’t be in the late 70’s either, probably 75-80 wins (which they should achieve this year). Pre-season I tabbed them for 80-85 wins, the 5-13 start and injuries kept that from happening. I don’t think this team is great, it’s mediocre.

          I used Turner’s minors stats because this is his first year regularly hitting MLB ball so there’s a larger sample-size that gives a fairly decent idea of what to expect from him in the bigs as opposed to a few hundred AB’s this year. I agree Flynn was a whiz at 2B. I’m not sure what teams starting weak hitting middle infielders during the late-70s have do with dominant pitching during that era, could you explain the correlation?

  5. Corey Gorey August 30, 2011 at 10:45 pm
    “This Mets team has Reyes, Wright, Ike, Murph, Duda that’s a huge leap from Taveras, Randle, Montanez and Boisclair.”

    @SiddFinch – Good, good point.

    @JoeJ – Is it just historical distance, or do the names Joel Youngblood and Elliott Maddox just *sound* like historically awesome players? Then again, my wife thinks Angel Pagan is the best baseball player name ever.

    @Timo and JoeJ – I think it was hard not to have a weak spot for the Yankees in the late 70s in NY when you knew: A.) The Mets would never play them for any reason that mattered and B.) Reggie had a stinkin’ candy bar named after him.

    Was Skip Lockwood the pitcher who’s hat always fell off when he pitched or am I thinking of someone else?

    • Timo September 1, 2011 at 9:50 am
      Reggie Bar, that was AWESOME! I went to the Yankee game when they gave out the candy bar and people threw them back on the field. I thought it was a waste of a candy bar. Actually, I picked up a few more (still in the wrapper) on the floor of the bleachers. I miss that candy bar. Reggie should bring that back. OR maybe Wright can make a candy bar.
  6. Corey Gorey August 31, 2011 at 12:49 am