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2/1/08 Special Investigation. Goes: Inside The Mind Of The Mets' Fan...

     If you thought for even a moment that the last two seasons' of near-miss runs at the Series had humbled the Mets' fan even slightly, I'm here to report that you've been sadly mistaken. And that was before the Mets had traded, in principle, (as of 3:38 pm no deal is signed), for left-handed ace Johan Santana, the prize of the '08 free agent market.

     The Mets' fan is once again emboldened, as I discovered just yesterday when I arrived at my place of employment. An unmarked letter was left in my actual/literal mailbox, which I tucked under my shoulder as I headed to my desk, and when I turned on my computer, my virtual mailbox was full of Johan Santana/Mets' related emails from some old friends who regularly discuss all things baseball online.

     I opened the letter first. Folded inside were three sheets of paper, a printout of the available New York Mets' Partial Ticket Plans, with a note in felt marker with the words, "Page Three" written and underlined in black. My anonymous "friend" had checked off Thursday, April 17th's game against the Nationals at Shea on the first page as if that were a possible game for two fans to attend, but upon turning to Page 3, I found no such collegial affections...

     The last page of the three contained the Mets' "SINGLE GAME TICKETS" which were avaiable for, "Upper Reserved tickets for the final season at Shea, (which) start at $5 for select games and are available NOW!" That's when I noticed that my anonymous friend had written, again in black marker:

          "WTF?" (with arrows pointing to the games on 4/15 and
          9/1 against the Nationals.) Only a Lincoln to see the
          Nationals? It costs more to Park at Shea!!!) (ed. note-
          extra exclamation points added to reflect actual

      Is this someone's idea of a joke? That the Mets' fans only want to pay $5 to see the team that swept them in the last week of the '07 season and effectively eliminated them from playoff contention? If I were a Mets' fan, I'd want to make the Nationals pay...(and preferably with Ryan Church and Brian Schneider winning the games for NY).

     But instead the Mets have the Nationals' visits priced at $5, while the Brewers are $10, the Marlins $10, the Texas Rangers' and Braves' tickets sell for $20 and a ticket to Shea to see the Mets play the Phillies is available for $25...Wait? Who put this letter in my mailbox? I look around, but see no one laughing or watching me react...Ahh who knows, could be anyone. I'm willing to overlook this slight on the behalf of the anonymous Mets' fan, but then I open my email...(the following is a sample of the correspondence)...

          "Is it me or does Santana look like a Latin Mike Hampton?
          What will he go for: 6 Years $123 Mil? I heard he wants the
          contract pegged to the peso or the euro but not the

          "I'm happy, and that's all that matters now. I saw some
          message board posts slotting Pedro as the #4 starter
          behind Santana, Maine and Perez.  Not that I believe what
          the common fan predicts, but if Pedro hooks up against
          other teams #4's all season long he could win 30 games
          and beat Johan out for the CY Young.  I don't mind El
          Duque as the #5 either, he had a great season, when
          healthy, last year; I had him on my fantasy team and was
          accused of 'luck'."
          "Next step is to trade F-Mart(Fernando Martinez) and
          (Mike) Pelfry to the Birds for Bedard, then I'll (be happy).
          "I see the Yankee perspective of mortgaging the farm for
          the big city team, but the Mets are trading for a guy that
          will be around for 6 years. Wright, Reyes, Beltran, Santana
          are all locked up long term. Next year they can nail down
          Perez, depending on Pedro's effectiveness this year hook
          him for another year, sign Tex (if the Bravo's can't lock
          him down) and let Delgado go."

          "Big question will be how Santana pitches in the outdoors
          all season. Can he handle the cold April & possible October

          "I do think Santana is WAY better than Mike Hampton. I
          hope you are all kidding on that one. The guy has 2 Cy
          Youngs, has pitched over 200 IP the last 4 years, and will
          probably rack up between 270-300Ks pitching against 7  
          1/2 batters in each NL lineup (sometimes the #8 is like
          1/2 a hitter depending on the team). He will do great,
          especially early in this contract.

          "As far as Mark Texeira next winter, keep the Yankees in
          mind. Giambi, Mussina, and Matsui come off the books
          after 2008, freeing up approximately $45 million +, per
          year. I think they will make a big run at him, as will
          Baltimore, since he(Teixiera) is from Maryland.

          "As far as Bedard, that would be a true "coup" getting
          another 29-year old lefty, but Angelos meddles in every
          deal down there and I'm not sure (right now) that Bedard
          will go anywhere.

          "The first email said Santana, 'looked like the latin version
          of Hampton'...I don't think talent level was ever compared.
          We all agree there is no comparison. Santana is gonna
          work the NL the first time around, with the NL batters not
          having seen his stuff, Santana will K over 280 batters this
          season with an ERA somewhere around 3.15/3.20."

          "Good, so the Twins didn't get ripped off as bad as
          everyone thinks. Every year the Mets have a highly touted
          prospect that never really works out. Remember Alex
          Ochoa? Jay Payton? Alex Escobar? Gregg Jefferies? That's
          why I don't mind trading away the farm for a proven
          player. In Mets' history there are a handful of players that
          matured after leaving the organization: Kazmir is one,
          Nolan Ryan is another."

          "Victor Zambrano could not be reached for comment :)

          "Old lady in a supermarket to Rick Peterson: "Is 15 minutes
          up yet?"

          "You're all nuts. Santana has a bionic arm that will never
          break. He's going to K 400 this year and pitch 15 CG/SO's,
          with a 34-0 w/l and a .015 ERA.

          "Bottom line - the Met's(sic) are better with Santana than
          without.(ed. note- "Yes, Captain Obvious.) This deal
          affords Minaya significant flexibility that neither the press
          or you guys are talking about. Santana at the top of the
          rotation moves everyone down in the rotation. Santana  
          now gives Minaya the flexibility to potentially deal Perez
          or Maine to replenish the organizational depth and replace
          either or with a Lohse/Hernandez type. Think teams
          wouldn't be interested in a 15 game winner at a
          reasonable contract - think again. I am not saying Minaya
          needs to make another move, only that he has assets left
          to deal if necessary.  Let's also not forget the big kid with
          the heavy sinker who the Mets would not include in the
          "Minaya has proven he is an out of the box thinker as he
          builds minor league depth to support his big league club
          with retreads and reclamation projects, e.g. Valentin,
          Chavez, etc. These players can be had for pennies on the
          dollar. Take a look at the available free agent list for
          illustration. As for the farm system, the mets get 2 picks,
          a #1 and a sandwich for Glavine bolting to the Braves. So,
          by not resigning Glavine and trading for Santana, the Mets
          lose 2 prospects - big deal."
          "Let's also defend Minaya's earlier off-season moves. 
          Minaya was killed for the Milledge deal. In hindsight
          though, the Mets upgraded the RF and Catcher position
          for "Too Cool for School" Lastings. Let's not forget the
          Mets have a catcher who completely shuts down the
          opposition running game (if you are going to grab his
          stats, grab the last 3 years, not just last years') which was
          a big upgrade, and a left handed bat in Church whose
          power numbers will only increase at Shea.
          "Look for the Mets to steamroll the NL east has-beens. 
          The Phillies will not recover from losing Rowand and
          adding Lidge who is a timebomb and a head-case. The
          Braves lost A.Jones replaced him with Kotsay and added
          Glavine to the rotation. I would not be surprised if the
          Braves finish in last place. As for the Phillies, let's hear
          Rollins open his mouth now."
          "Lets go Mets!"

          "Again, bottom-line the Mets are better today than they
          were yesterday. (ed. note-"Did you really just repeat that?)
          With a solid line-up, solid defense, solid pitching, they are
          a legitimate threat to get to the World Series. That is all
          you can hope for as a fan...

          "My quick thoughts on Brian Schneider:
          "Brian Schneider. Let's make sure we're tracking. I like  
          him. He's an above average catcher with a below-average
          bat for a catcher, though. He is now 31. He's not a long-
          term solution. His BA/OBP/SLG for last year was
          .235/.326/.336. For his career, he is .252/.323/377. 
          Offensively, his 3-year trend shows a decline in average
          and extra-base power from 2005-2007 at RFK (and that's
          taking into account that he played half his games in D.C.). 
          As far as throwing out runners, he was above 50% and a NL
          leader in 2003 and 2004. From 2005 on, he has not
          thrown out better than 37% of runners---which makes
          him above average for a receiver. He's a player. But, he's
          not a franchise catcher at this point."

          "Offensively for his career, Schneider, I discovered
          compares favorably to Johnny Oates in 1976, Brent
          'Remember The' Mayne in 1998, and the immortal Milt May
          in 1981."

          "Baseball America still ranks the three guys(traded to
          Minnesota) in the Mets' Top 6. It turns out that the
          Yankees were not really interested in giving up Hughes. As
          has been widely reported, Yanks and Sox were playing
          against each other, but neither were very serious about
          giving up both that much scratch and talent. I am sure
          there are also some concerns about his innings and
          wearing down. Or maybe Smith and the Twins waited too

          "Nonetheless, Mets give up 3 of their top prospects and
          still have to give Santana a free-agent level contract. All
          that being said, the trade makes sense for the Mets. I 
          think the Twins got two-or-three players who will be
          starting at some point in 2008. The Twins usually know
          what to do. Terry Ryan was a very, very good GM and I
          think Bill Smith will turn out to be a good one too."

          "Santana gave the Twins 10 days to trade him or he was
          invoking his no trade clause which would have prevented
          them from trading him at the deadline. He also said he
          wanted to go to the Mets, and who wouldn't..."

      That's it...these Mets' fans are way too happy, I decide to rain on their parade, so I respond with a list of memories that will be sure to infuriate these Mets' fans...

          "Not even knocking the Mets out of the playoffs can earn
          your respect Mets' fans? What do I have to do to get
          through to you Mets' fans? How 'bout this? Gooden's
          overrated. And half the '86 Mets used performance-
          enhancing drugs! DARYL!! DARYL!!! (draws a tear from
          Strawberry's eye.) Where's Mo Vaughn? I can't wait to see
          what Roberto Alomar can do in NY! Can you imagine the
          double-play combo of Alomar and Ordonez??? Lenny
          Dykstra? Don't get me started!!!"

     (ed. note- "Uh...Not only do I not get a Nationals-bashing response to this e-mail for use as a natural conclusion to this post, but...I seem to have been removed from the Mets' fan mailing list...Ouch!)