This afternoon, I returned to Manhattan from Connecticut on a very crowded train. I turned to my iPod for entertainment, but quickly realized that I have added little new music in recent months (suggestions are welcome), and that I am bored with my current selection. There was a cute and especially bug-eyed pug across the aisle, but with me being neither its owner nor adjacent, its fun factor was limited. The same went for another charming dog in the alcove ahead of me. I was a man with few options.
Consequently, I found myself reading my girlfriend’s copies of New York magazine (which included a heartening article by Jay Jaffe) and Time Out New York. The latter contained a barely noticeable excerpt from an exchange with comedian David Cross, who offered his opinions on the New York Mets:
“Oh, man. If you want to talk baseball, I’ll do that all day. I can’t believe they didn’t even make a play for [Victor] Martinez.”
“I feel bad for Mets fans. Now, I don’t really give a [damn] about the Mets – or Mets fans, really – but when you pay that much money for tickets, and then a little over halfway through the season you just say, ‘Nah, we give up. [Screw] it…’ I can’t imagine Minaya being there next year. Just some bad, bad moves. They go in and sign the best pitcher in the majors, and then there is no backup for him? John Maine?”
The most important bit of information here is the Mets’ record at the trading deadline and at the time of the interview. At the trading deadline, the Mets were 49-53 – ten and a half games behind the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East and 6.5 games back in the wild card. In late August, approximately when Cross was questioned (I’m assuming), the Mets were 17.5 games back in their division and 13 games behind the wild card leader. Also, from the trading deadline through late August, the Mets were without the services of Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes, J.J. Putz, John Maine, Carlos Beltran, Fernando Martinez, Jonathon Niese, David Wright, and Johan Santana for long stretches. And owner Fred Wilpon has lost millions in the Bernard Madoff scandal. What, exactly, would Cross have the Mets to do combat this litany of problems?
So – and I can’t believe I’m saying this – I think we can all forgive the Mets for not being totally equipped to handle this ludicrous streak of horrible luck. The Mets didn’t make a play for Victor Martinez because they (a) had no money and (b) were 6.5 games out of the division with most of their best players on the disabled list for the foreseeable future. The Mets did not say “[screw] it.” They said “we’re broke, we’re not looking good for the playoffs, and everyone is hurt – we probably shouldn’t trade prospects to take on more money for a lost cause.” Finally, is Cross really criticizing the Mets for not having a comparable replacement for Johan Santana? There isn’t a team in baseball that can replace 200 innings of 3.00 ERA pitching from within the organization.
Look, Mets’ general manager Omar Minaya has made some questionable moves and even more questionable public relations decisions. But everyone – sportswriters, fans, comedians – can feel free to stop piling on the Mets for a legitimately promising season that was derailed by a freakish, unforeseen, and unprecedented rash of injuries.
I know Cross is just a comedian, but give me (and if not me, the Mets) a break.