Commentary | A Mets fan’s lament: Continued failure deflates even the youngest, most optimistic of fans

Mets JD Martinez reacts to being struck out
Mets fans are as befuddled about the team’s record as JD Martinez is about being called out on strikes during their latest loss on Saturday to the San Francisco Giants.
AP Photo/Noah K. Murray

Everything was going great for the Mets for the first seven innings Friday night. J.D. Martinez, Mark Vientos and Pete Alonso hit home runs, the young rookie pitcher Christian Scott pitched fantastic, and Edwin Diaz bounced back nicely in his effort to get his mojo back.

And best of all, fans like my son and his friend, who were with my wife and I in the stands at Citi Field, were having a good time at the Mets game.

Then came the eighth inning, and the latest Mets meltdown that followed. The two-out grand slam by Giants catcher Patrick Bailey that put San Francisco ahead sucked the life out of the entire stadium. Then the boos rained upon Reed Garrett, who gave up the home run, like a microburst of rage over Flushing — aimed not so much at him, but at the whole underachieving bunch.

My son and his friend were dejected. They couldn’t believe what they saw. Both eighth-graders, they are too young to understand what the slightly older row of twentysomething fans sitting right in front of us could. They too groaned and complained over it, but also expressed little shock by what happened.

“Just so predictable,” one fan said.

“They’ve been like this for 25 years,” another said. He looked about 25, so it’s clear that the only versions of Mets baseball he can recall were the lowly Wilpon years between 2002 and 2020.

I’m a little older than them, and remember the tail end of the glorious late 80s when the Mets were kings of baseball in New York. There has been a lot of bad baseball since then, but a few shining moments in between. 

Yet those few moments — 1999-2000, 2006, 2015, 2022 — are all buried under a mountain of amassed Mets failures over the last 38 years since Jesse Orosco leapt off the Shea Stadium mound in celebrating the Mets’ second World Championship.

And along the way, losing — the trait seemingly ingrained into the Mets’ DNA since those awful early years in franchise history — has once again become the definition of the Mets brand itself. On television, in social media, and everywhere in between, when people think of the Mets, they think of failure — and laugh. 

Mets player Harrison Bader frustrated
Mets outfielder Harrison Bader expresses anger after making the final out Saturday in the team’s 7-2 extra-inning loss to the San Francisco Giants.AP Photo/Noah K. Murray

This Charlie Brown-like caricature of the Mets is something that Steve Cohen, when he bought the team in 2020, vowed to end. His first team president, Sandy Alderson, said the goal was to make the Mets an elite franchise, one of the best in the game.

Here we are, four years later, and we’re no closer to permanently erasing that stench of failure from this franchise. 

Cohen has spent more than a billion dollars of his massive fortune to turn things around, brought in some of the game’s best minds to fix the team structurally. Still, on the field, the Mets stink.

The Cohen era, thus far, had one terrific 101-win season that still wound up leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouths — from the fact that the Atlanta Braves played unrealistically good baseball in surpassing the Mets as division champions, to the team falling apart at the very end in losing both the division and a first-round matchup with the San Diego Padres.

The 2021 season was brutal. The 2023 season was similarly bad, and saw a fire sale at the trade deadline. The 2024 season, with the Mets entering play Sunday 9 games under .500 and 16 games behind the first-place Philadelphia Phillies after yet another soul-crushing loss Saturday, look dead in the water — and destined for yet another fire sale this summer.

It is clear that Cohen’s initial goal of winning a Mets World Championship “in three to five years” is not going to happen — through no fault of his own. Cohen has demonstrated a willingness to spend and do what it takes to build a winner, for which Mets fans had been clamoring for ages.

At the end of the day, the team on the field is responsible for its own success or failure. This roster, as presently assembled, is not working — and it’s time for serious change.

This fanbase has suffered through enough. Four decades of losing is enough. 

Watching the Yankees win, the Braves and Phillies always contending, the Dodgers both spending big and developing great players year after year after year — while the Mets lose, lose, lose year after year after year is too much. This movie has played for decades; it’s time for a new show.

Steve Cohen Mets
Mets owner Steve Cohen says he sympathizes with fans frustrated by the team’s woeful play in 2024.AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

In a post on X (formerly Twitter) following Friday night’s meltdown, Cohen acknowledged the tough times and thanked the fans for caring.

Yes, we Mets fans care — a lot — about this team. But no one should take that care for granted. We’re seeing that in the slipping attendance at Citi Field. Apathy and acceptance of failure is taking hold among the fanbase.

Mets fans want to win as badly as Cohen says he does and to shed forever that “lovable losers” label that has been stuck to this franchise with superglue except for fleeting periods of success in between. We want sustained success that we have never experienced before, that other elite teams in the league have.

And to do that, the Mets and Cohen are going to have to make painful choices at the deadline. That includes potentially shipping off impending free agent Pete Alonso for prospects, if the price is right. Nothing should be off the table at this point — because what the Mets are right now is just unacceptable, and it’s only going to get worse if nothing changes.

This team owes it to the younger generations who either can’t remember the Mets being wildly successful — especially to fans like my son and his friend, to millennials and Gen-Zers, who have seen enough bad Mets baseball and ought to have their faith rewarded.

The only way to do that is to strip the team down to the studs and rebuild from there.

Editor’s note: The opinions of this author, a lifelong Mets fan, are his own, and not necessarily those of amNewYork Metro or its staff.