Wednesday, December 7, 2011

NY Mets: The Fans Get Ponzied - Arsenal: Some of the Kids Are Allright

When Fred met Bernie

 Add New York Mets fans to the list of victims of Bernie Madoff's ponzi scheme. The trickle down effect of the Wilpons' dealings with Madoff are evident as the franchise cries poverty and lets the best player to come out of the organization in years leave due to money. I could go on and on at how disgusted I and other Mets fans feel, instead here's a reprint of the article that I wrote for Bleacher Report when the Jose Reyes news first broke:

Today is a very sad day in a history of sad days for New York Mets fans. While many supporters remained hopeful that Jose Reyes would re-sign with the team, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Reyes has left for the newly named Miami Marlins.

Along with a lucrative contract, the Marlins offer Reyes the opportunity to play for a team on the rise. In addition to Reyes, Miami has signed closer Heath Bell and are making a push for the much-coveted Albert Pujols. The Marlins are making it clear that they want to build a winning team and attract more fans to their new stadium.

Back in New York, it's the opposite. The Wilpons are making it clear that they cannot afford to compete due to their financial problems with the Madoff scandal and a number of ridiculous signings they are still tied to. In addition to still paying out the contracts of recent flops Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo, the Mets just began paying Bobby Bonilla the $1.19 million he will be collecting from them for the next 25 years.

The Mets tried to convince their fan base that they were a potential playoff team last season. Nobody bought in to that one. It was obvious that the 2006 team that was supposed to become a dynasty had not materialized, and the "rebuilding" process has been in place since 2009. The Mets are the only team that have to rebuild on a rebuilding project. It's mind boggling.

And that's the Goodfellas scene where Joe Pesci is whacked
What seems to be lost in the news that Jose Reyes has been signed by the Marlins is the fact that the Mets could have traded Reyes last summer and received value back for him. Just like they did with Carlos Beltran. Instead, he remained and played great for the Mets down the stretch. Reyes won the batting title, but in the end, the Mets finished 25 games behind the Phillies and eight games under .500. They should have traded him for prospects.

In looking at the chatter on Twitter, it's pretty obvious that Mets fans are fed up. How much suffering can one fan base take? Long before allowing one of the franchise's most popular players of all time to walk away without even pretending to make an offer, the Mets served up two hearty doses of heartache to their fan base:

2007: The Mets lost 12 of their last 17 games. They went in to the last game of the season tied with the Phillies for the division title. In a must-win game, Tom Glavine gave up seven runs in the first inning and put a cherry on top of one of the worst collapses in baseball history.

2008: The Mets held the division lead by 3.5 games with 17 left to play. They then went 7-10 the rest of the way, surrendering the division to the Phillies and finding themselves tied with the Brewers for the Wild Card spot going in to the last game of the season. In what was to be the final game at Shea Stadium, the Mets came up short yet again, and Milwaukee went to the playoffs.

As if that misery wasn't enough, fans that could handle it sat through what was supposed to be an amazing tribute to Shea Stadium. As Tom Seaver threw a pitch to Mike Piazza and they walked off the Shea Stadium field together stunned and inconsolable, fans looked on. It was the perfect symbolism for the Mets season.

The Wilpons better have a plan in place to earn back the money they've lost because they are not going to make it back in ticket sales. I have a feeling there will be plenty of empty seats at Citi Field for the near future.

I will always remain a Mets fan, as it's in my DNA. However, I am not going to support the current ownership that has continually made it clear that they have no regard for their fan base and paying customers.

Meet the Mets

Thank God for Arsenal.  While lots of Arsenal fans are upset at the club's 6 year trophy drought, Arsenal are a team that has always fielded a competitive team since I began following them in the mid 90's. I can't say the same for the other team that I support. The Mets haven't won a championship since 1986 and they are not looking good for the future. In fact, they are the laughingstock of baseball.

Anyhow, Arsenal have rebounded from their early season "crisis" and now sit in 5th place above Liverpool and Newcastle.  Their form has been impressive and the new players have fit in well and made the squad more solid. 

With Arsenal being the first English club to qualify for the final 16 of the Champions League and win their group, their game in hand at Olympiacos was basically an afterthought. It gave Arsene Wenger the opportunity to rest the bulk of the starting eleven and give some playing time to many of the younger players and some of those on the fringe.

Fabianski was awful
I recorded the game on my DVR and eagerly sat down to watch the match last evening. All I can say is wow.  I couldn't believe that this was Arsenal. They were getting bullied all over the field and their ball possession and passing was poor.

Granted most of these players have not been given sufficient playing time and have not played together.  However, defensively the team were shocking.  Djourou, who I like, was awful...Santos was way off his game...Squillaci, get rid of him now...and even the Verminator made a few mistakes.  They weren't the worst part of the defense, however.

Lukasz Fabianski started in goal and was horrible. He looked like a guy that had never played in goal before.  He allowed Olympiacos a rather simple first goal as he was caught completely out of position. When he had to be replaced in the 25th minute due to injury, I secretly welcomed the switch. That phrase be careful what you wish for comes to mind today.

Mannone was even worse
Vito Mannone made Fabianski look like David Seaman. I actually found myself embarrassed for the team and felt pangs of pity for the Arsenal fans that spent money to travel to Greece and support the squad.

On the positive side, Yossi Benayoun provided some much need experience in midfield and did score Arsenal's goal with a nice strike. Ignassi Miquel and Tomas Rosicky looked solid in midfield after coming on as second half subs.

Meanwhile Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain wasn't given much service up front, but he did exert his strength and skills when given the chance.

In the end, the result was unimportant and the match was a great learning opportunity for the team.  I just hope Wenger took stock of who passed the test and who was not up to the challenge and needs to go.

It's back to the league this weekend as the Gunners host Everton and hope to keep moving up the table.

Benayoun and Miquel celebrate Arsenal's only goal