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26 Jun

June 26, 2010

I am a Mets fan, and as any Mets fan can tell you, that statement comes with a varying degree of pride. I could go on about all the things that I and other fans feel is wrong with the organization at this time, but there is a greater issue. Mets owners Fred Wilpon and his son Jeff have done irreparable damage to the sport.

I am not referring to the ups and downs of the franchise, I am referring to the damage done to the lexicon by their very words.

The worst expression to come into common usage in regard to baseball is “meaningful games.” Fred Wilpon first brought it into use by saying that he wanted to “play meaningful games in September.” He didn’t say he wanted to “win,” he just wanted to “play.” I want my team to win the World Series. “Play meaningful games” means losing the division and winding up in second place on the very last day of the season. Sorry you didn’t win and get to the playoffs, but wasn’t it nice playing a meaningful game? No. The Mets did that twice. I was there and it sucked both times. You know what would have been great? Winning.

The Mets will be playing a series against the Florida Marlins in Puerto Rico next week, and newspaper reports say that many players who come from Puerto Rico are “looking forward to playing meaningful games in front of their friends and family.” Really? Wouldn’t they rather look forward to winning in front of their friends and family? When did people forget the point of the game?

This isn’t new from the Wilpons. The word “win,” in any form, has been conspicuously missing from their vocabulary for a very long time. They often talk about building a “competitive team.” A competitive team ends up in second place, three games back. Tough break not making the post-season, but don’t you feel good that you were competitive? No. I feel lousy that my team lost.

At the start of the season, teams raise the World Series banner, the League banner, and even the Wild Card banner. I have yet to see a team raise the “Competitive” banner.

Not long ago the Mets fell out of first place in one of the most epic collapses ever, losing a seven game lead with seventeen games left to play. Until the very last day, every game was “meaningful,” the division was “competitive,” but at the end of the last game of the season they stood on the field watching another team celebrate. How did that feel?

Fred Wilpon has said that he made “competitive” offers to free agents. Those agents have not come to the Mets. Perhaps, instead of a  “competitive” offer, he had made a “better” offer, those players may have come here. Instead of a competitive offer, I’d prefer a winning offer.

“Meaningful” and “competitive” are important words in Little League. They are important in high school competition. Someone needs to tell the Wilpons that they are in the Major Leagues, where the only standard is winning and fans pay good money for it.

All of us, let’s get the phrases “competitive” and “meaningful games” out of our vocabulary. Let’s bring back winning.

This is what "meaningful games" feels like.

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