I have asked Mets officials on and off the record about payroll, off-field drama and fan reaction dozens of times during the last eight years and the answer is always more or less the same.
"It all comes down to wins and loses, because winning cures all," the person will essentially respond. In other words, regardless of how much the team is spending or how fans feel about it, everything will work out if the Mets win.
The problem with this has always centered around the word, 'if,' and it continued yesterday when COO Jeff Wilpon and GM Sandy Alderson hosted team reporters for their annual offseason lunch at Citi Field.
The problem isn't in the logic. The problem is in the odds. While spending the most money will never guarantee 90 wins, it does increase the likelihood that it'll happen.
The disconnect that exists between what Alderson and Wilpon said Tuesday and how most media and fans -- myself included -- have felt during the last decade centers mostly around effort and ability. Right or wrong, you and I connect effort with spending.
Team executives will understandably disagree because they punch the clock, make the phone calls, debate consequence, write the checks and deal with the criticism. As a result, I assume the Mets see everything they do as 'effort,' because work is ability and effort.
To you and I, though, baseball is not supposed to be work. It's supposed to be entertainment and a distraction. It is often about wins, losses and rings, but it's also about experience and justifying the time and money we spend watching, thinking and obsessing about the results of the team's work (on and off the field).
We're not on the same page. My hunch is the Mets and their fans view effort and results very differently. Frankly, I blame Joe Torre's Yankees and Twitter, prior to which running the Mets had to be easier -- or at least less stressful.
In Twitter, sports teams (especially the Mets) get a 24/7 direct tap in to the thinking and emotional highs and lows of thousands and thousands of fans. The thing is, those fans have access to the same tap. Therefore, in times of discontent, group think often takes over to create a toxic and angry reality, which is where we are now. So, on days like yesterday, when Wilpon and Alderson likely believed they were doing the right thing by finally addressing the team's payroll and spending head on with reporters, it only ends up throwing gasoline on their fire.
Similarly, while it stinks that the Yankees have certainly made it less fun to own and cheer for a team in New York, they are what they are, and their presence and approach is not going away. In fact, their most recent rebuilding phase lasted all of one season.
This is reality and -- like it or not -- the Mets are going to be compared to the Yankees. I wish it didn't have to be this way, but it is. You compare them. I compare them. The media definitely compares them. And though they'll deny it, the Mets compare themselves to the Yankees too.
Why? Because regardless of whether the Mets or any other team can or can't ever spend on talent like the Yankees, we know it matters to their success. I'm willing to concede that being top five or 10 in spending will not make any team a lock for a specific number of wins. However, we all know it's more than luck that the Yankees have been to the postseason 13 times in the last 17 years, during which they never finished below .500.
The extra money may not assure the Yankees a World Series trophy, but it has clearly given them the best chance at getting one, which is why they keep doing it. More importantly, their effort and success has helped entertain their fans (and justify the group's dedication) every day.
I don't know any Mets fan that wants the team to spend $200 million just to spend $200 million. Instead, we simply want to experience what Yankees fans have been able to experience. We're jealous of our rivals in the Bronx, who we see and are mocked by every day at work, at school, on talk radio, on Twitter, and any place else you can think of in the Tri-State area. It's exhausting.
If the Mets know a different method for success than what is being used by their crosstown rivals, I'm all eyes and ears. However, outside of three or four seasons, that hasn't happened during the last two decades and most fans I know feel hopeless that anything will ever change. So, while I appreciate that Alderson and Wilpon took time to talk to the media about possibilities and payroll, they failed to convey their purpose and plan, which is what Mets fans really wanted to hear.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. He recently left his position as Executive Editor and Dir. of Digital Content for SNY.TV to help sports brands build their own digital content businesses...