When Sandy Alderson, speaking as the newly-arrived Moneyball guru of the New York Mets, openly mocked All-Star shortstop José Reyes with a line about sending the free-agent a box of chocolates to show himhim he was loved, he signaled that the Mets future was a lot dimmer than it has been for decades. Alderson, it seems, got the job to run the Mets in order to disassemble the other major-league team in baseball's largest market. A year ago, Alderson promised Mets fans that the budget for the team would closely resemble (with a few cuts) what it has been for the last few years. He claimed that the Madoff scandal affecting Fred and Jeff Wilpon and their partner sol Katz the ownership group of the New York Mets would not change baseball operations in a significant manner.
He was not telling the truth.
Thus under Alderson's orders the Mets made no offer to one of the top homegrown star players in the team's 50 year history.
In the last 10 years no Mets player has been as bright a spark on the field as José Reyes. Signed by the Mets at age 17 out of the Dominican Republic, Reyes has been the rare baseball talent who publicly delights in playing the game at its highest level. The long triple. That cannon arm from deep in the hole. The race down the first base line on a dribbler past the pitcher. The sprint to short center field to grab a pop-up. The spark, the smile, the crazy hand gestures. The flying dreadlocks and sheer exuberance, and the love of baseball. All gone to Miami.
The Mets never made an offer to Jose Reyes, the greatest shortstop in the history of the franchise. And on the National League side of town, the Wilpons now own a small market baseball team in a new with no hope of competing and a quickly dwindling fan base. Here in Casa Watson the generation of fans that I usually take to the ballgames has informed me in no uncertain terms that they do not wish to visit Citi Field on a regular basis in 2012. They perceive that the business entity known as the New York Mets does not care about retaining their business, that it does not care about their brand, that chooses not to compete for the entertainment dollar in New York area. But mostly, they are sad. They will miss their favorite player. And they realize that the team they call their own simply did not want one of its greatest homegrown stars back. And they know that the team across town would never let one of its star attractions get away.
This is New York Mets baseball. In 2012, the team will celebrate 50 years. But how closely will these Mets resemble the initial team of 1962 in the loss column, only without the lovability, without Casey Stengel, without the sheer joy of beingthe upstart New York National League baseball club. Somewhere Dick Young is applauding Sandy Alderson, and slapping his buddy M. Donald Grant on the back.