— Days Without Shea —

Filed under: Baseball | Mets | Shea
by Kingman on April 15 at 7:46AM

Ramp_fromShea_OpeningDay08After going to the first few Mets games at Shea Stadium this year, I noted that there seemed to be a different fan element in attendance.

Perhaps it was the Phillie factor. Or just opening day/week euphoria. But something was different. Fights are breaking out everywhere. People are cursing at players –  Met players – before they even get in the game.

That vibe continued through the weekend. The NYT has a story today about the hostile reception Mets fans continue to give their home team and how the players feel about it. Some excerpts:

This seems to be the Mets’ comeuppance for their monumental collapse down the stretch last season, when they lost 12 of their final 17 games and a spot in the postseason. As an organization, the Mets are intent on putting the collapse behind them, but it is clear the fans have not forgotten what happened, or apparently forgiven.

Through the team’s first homestand this season, Mets fans have vented their frustration at almost every provocation. There was the bullpen’s inept performance in last Tuesday’s home opener against the Philadelphia Phillies. There were the disappointing starts by Santana and Oliver PĂ©rez over the weekend against the Milwaukee Brewers. There has been the meek hitting with runners in scoring position. And there was even the usher…

…Then there is Schoeneweis. The fans have not absolved him for his 2007 performance, when, hampered by a torn tendon in his left knee, he was 0-2 in 70 appearances with a 5.03 earned run average. This season, he has been hearing jeers at Shea as soon as he enters a game.

Schoeneweis, however, was defiant after Sunday’s game, in which he retired the only batter he faced.

“I don’t really want to care about the fans anymore,” he said. “If they want to boo, let them boo. I’m not going to take them out to dinner.”

Billy Wagner, who sits next to Schoeneweis in the locker room, seemed just as frustrated.

“If they’re booing for ridiculous reasons, you just let them look like idiots and go about your business,” he said.

“Their expectations are high, just like ours. It’s been 11 games and we’ve got a lot of baseball left. But they’re booing now because they must have expected us to go undefeated this year.”

It is only April 15 so this behavior may be short-lived (especially if the Mets suddenly get hot). But where is thie vitriolic Mets bashing by alleged Mets fans coming from? Could it be a device of the Mets own creation? Raising ticket, food and parking prices after last year’s historic meltdown may not have been a kind move by the organization. The NYT article does wonder aloud if the hostility is indeed a self-inflicted wound:

A sampling of some fans’ opinions before Sunday’s game revealed a common theme, namely that the Mets, who have not won a championship in over two decades, owe them some success.

“My ticket price went up 34 percent since last year,” said Joe Nola, a season-ticket holder. “So yeah, we expect a lot. And we’ve got to get 18 wins out of Santana or he’s going to get booed, too.”

 None of us in Loge13 are particularly happy with the Mets front office, for reasons obvious to anyone who has read this blog more than once. But we still go to games to root on the Mets and rejoice in what’s fun about baseball, not beat ourselves up over past perceived transgressions against us.

This open letter to Mets fans from AiringofGrievances.com last week sums it up best:

It's nine games in to the season, no one on the team deserves to be booed. In fact, why would you ever boo your own player. Scott Schowenweis was called in with two runners on in a tie ball game. He hadn't pitched yet in this game. Why in the world would you boo him before he ever throws the ball. Do you want him to fail? Are you guys actually Mets fans because you like the team or because you have a psychological addiction to failure and depression? Because I swear, there are better ways to get this fix. Lying in the dark in your room listening to Mazzy Star and Elliot Smith is way way more effective and doesn't screw with my life.

So on this point, boo Jimmy Rollins, shut up when our players are around. The only case in which it is ever remotely acceptable to boo is if you're ready for a player to be off the team. But even then, keep quiet because I don't trust your judgment.

[April 15, 2008 2:45 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Bobster said

This is such a bad development. Mets fans were known as the best in baseball for so many years. We supported the team in its early years when they were truly awful, and through all the ups and downs over the decades. We cheered Ron Swoboda after he struck out four times in one games because the guy always hustled and gave 100%. Opposing players dreading coming to Shea because of the loyalty of the Mets fans. These new fans are acting like spoiled idiots. They have no sense of the team's history.

[April 15, 2008 4:23 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Jonathan said

I think one of the more telling things is an expectation of success. The truth is that baseball is a game of odds, not absolutes. No matter how much talent you collect there is simply no guarantee that a ball is not going to bounce one way or another. Sure, we can expect that the Mets will more likely than not win this year, as well they should, but you can't get angry when they don't live up to lofty expectations in a game that is anything but a guarantee.

I do agree with Bobster though, in so far as effort is really the only thing players control and, for the most part, very few major league players aren't trying to be as successful as possible. Booing when a player doesn't run out a ground ball might be the only exception to the "don't boo" rule that makes sense. Otherwise, fan only make success less likely and, at the very least, give away home field advantage.

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