For any Met fan rejoicing in the Yankees loss in the ALCS, I say shame on you. If you are calling your Yankee fan friends and railing on them because their team lost in the playoffs, you are fairly pathetic.
I might enjoy the practice myself if the Mets, my favorite team, had actually done something of significance these last six seasons. But while the Mets were blowing two playoff chances then finishing significantly under .500 since 2007, the Yankees have made their traditional trip to the post season each year but once. And they won a world championship their first season in the new Yankee Stadium while the Mets completely stunk up the first season in their new digs. And as poorly as the Yankees played in this post season, they won 95 regular season games and made it to the final four. The Mets were in the final four too, the final four from the bottom of the National League.
Now I agree it is hard to listen to my Yankee fan friends bitch and moan this morning. I just want to say SHUT UP already. They have no idea what it is to walk in our shoes. As silly as Mets fans can be when they loudly claim as a group at Citi Field that the “Yankees Suck”, they have to know they really don’t. Here is a team, the Yankees, that has had a winning season since 1993. And since ’93 they have missed the playoffs only three times and once was because of the strike in ’94 when they were headed for post season play. That is simply remarkable. During these two decades, the Yankees have won five world series compared to the Mets winning…um…none. The Mets were in one fall classic however, but they lost to you know who.
A Yankee fan in their late twenties now find themselves in a precarious situation. For the first time in their lives, they may be witnessing the downfall of their team. The two decade run of success could be coming to an end. Robinson Cano will be 30 next season and is the youngest everyday player on the team. The Yankee hierarchy must decide what to do next. Do they continue to go after high priced free agents (not that there are any great ones this off season), or do they begin to rebuild for the future. The latter will require patience as we Mets fans know all too well. From first impressions, Yankee fans don’t like that idea.
The amount of empty seats at Yankee Stadium during the playoffs was mind boggling. It appears Yankee fans are ready to jump ship at the first sign of failure. The problem Brian Cashman and his staff will face is how to add youth to their club. Who do they have to trade, A-Rod? With that contract? Forget it unless the Yankees are willing to eat most of it. Plus their 95 wins this year is not going to have them drafting early next June either. Can you imagine the Yankees having a sub .500 season while they attempt to rebuild? Yankee Stadium would look a lot like Citi Field–empty.
Should the Mets be doing what the Yankees did to build winning clubs? The answer is yes and no. The great Yankees of the late 90’s was built the right way. Gene Michael rebuilt the Yankees minor league system. It was that system that produced Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada. It took time while the Yanks struggled in the late 80s, and early 90s but the system produced fruit and excellence prevailed. This is the model to follow and one Mets GM Sandy Alderson appears to agree with.
What has happened since may ultimately be the Yankees downfall. They spent too much money on players like Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixiera, C.C. Sabathia, and A. J. Burnett (who is with Pittsburgh now). Yes, it got them a championship and more playoff appearances and the Yankees simply could afford it. But now they are stuck with these aging players (and some of Burnett’s money) who are starting to fail more and more. I’m not saying the Yankees are done because predictions of their demise has become an annual cry. But there comes a point when age catches up and there are no easy answers for the Bombers to replace these players. Plus George Steinbrenner is gone now. His sons Hank and Hal, do not seem to have the stomach for the long term contracts given out when their Dad was in charge. Plus the new collective bargaining agreement will have teams paying heavily over a certain salary threshold, a place the Steinbrenner boys do not want to go.
The Mets are doing it the right way. Build from within and be patient. It worked for the Yankees, it is working for the Cardinals who simply become amazing in the playoffs. It has worked for the San Francisco Giants who are in the playoffs again and the Texas Rangers who lost out in the wild card round. The same can be said for the Nationals, Orioles, and Athletics whose youngsters helped get their teams to the playoffs. The Pirates have made strides too and don’t forget those pesky Phillies whose core brought them to prominence the last six years. But like the Yankees, the Phillies got greedy and traded away a lot of youth for expensive and un-tradeable contracts. And last but not least, the Tigers who are now the American League champions and headed to their second world series in six years (a team the Mets should have played in 2006). Detroit did it from building within, smart trades and a key free agent signing in Prince Fielder (but down the road, that contract might be tough to swallow). And smart trades and key free agents is part of the equation. No team will be successful relying on the farm alone. But a strong farm allows a team to make good trades and putting the team in a position where key players do not have to come from free agency elusively.
All in all I wish I could boast of twenty years of sustained success for my team. But the Mets are a club that have never enjoyed sustained success in their history other than the six year period in the mid to late 1980s. Hopefully things will begin to change over in Flushing so we can actually cheer for something positive instead of a rival failing.