Appreciating the New York Mets

As a kid it wasn’t uncommon to find me enjoying a mid-afternoon bowl of ice cream at the kitchen table, this was usually coupled by an additional bowl after dinner. The daily routine usually consisted of me shoveling ice cream into my face as quickly as possible and I only truly appreciated the ice cream when I broke my arm and my mom was forced to make the ice cream for me, that’s when I started to realize the appreciation for the work.

The New York Mets sported some strong teams in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. I was spoiled with an intense rivalry with the Atlanta Braves, a rivalry that not only centralized my hatred for the opposition, but also brought me back to the stadium time and time again. I enjoyed nothing more that screaming “Larry” and chanting to the beat of “We Will Rock You”. The playoff baseball that lives on in the minds of Mets’ fans forever was always in some way shape or form connected to those Braves team, except the Todd Pratt home run and the Al Leiter one game playoff. Of course none of these culminated in a World Series ring, which was a major breaking point in me being able to look at this time positively. I was able to take in more and more Mets images but it always left me unfulfilled, like I was missing something.

The Art Howe era came and went and soon I would be catapulted into the 2006 New York Mets. That team brings backs some of the same bittersweet moments of a perfectly compiled offensive machine that lacked pitching and bench depth to get them to the World Series. Soon injuries and a lack of regard for building a strong farm system would create the collapses of the late 2000’s eventually leading to the firing of Omar Minaya. In came Sandy Alderson.

When Sandy Alderson came to the general manager position it was at that time that I started to discover apple pie. My grandma, the saint that she is, would send me pies to her freshman grandson at Syracuse University, and 20 minutes after receiving the delightful treat that very pie would no longer be visible. This happened throughout my freshman fall semester and I devoured the desert for no other reason than the lack of exposure to exquisite dining at the dining hall.

The spring semester came and I knew I held the inevitable hope that the Mets could make a run at the playoffs. To my delight they did a fairly good job of staying in the playoff picture until the All-Star break, where they started losing and ended up buried in the standing. Alderson was sly in his ability to weigh the slim costs of making the playoffs with cashing in on veteran talent so he traded Carlos Beltran at the deadline in exchange for pitching prospect, Zach Wheeler.

A couple of weeks after the trade I made my first pie with my grandma. I talked to her as an adult for the first time, about issues that didn’t involve how hungry I was or stupid things involving my friends. I learned the process of the pie and I learned more about the importance of cooking in general. The appreciation for slicing the apples perfectly in order to avoid a piece of skin falling into the pie or the need to glaze the pie perfectly in order to the perfect amount of shine. I learned that its kind of difficult to ruin an apple pie but it can only be good if you build it the right way.

That is the best apple pie I’ve ever eaten because I took the time to enjoy the work I helped put into it. I knew what it took to make the pie and I started to learn what specific aspects would need to be fine-tuned in the future to form the perfect pie. This is where the parallels begin. The Mets were now bring in management that new how to build a winner through a strong foundation of a farm system and the ability to seek out market inefficiencies for players that could provide value at the right price. This line of thinking went against the common “New York Theory” of throwing money at big-time player names in order to create a buzz while seeing a significant short term boost in team productivity. This isn’t how you build a dynasty or perennial contender, it’s how you build the 2006 Mets.

So after a couple of you years of stripping down and building up we’ve gotten to the opening day of another season that looks to be a stepping stone to the final destination of perennial contender. That is why Mets fans should be excited about this team because there aren’t any expectations to contend. It is your chance to see the future; the building blocks that will help bring a championship back to New York. You should revel in the excitement of watching Matt Harvey pitch every five days and Ike Davis bomb home runs into the Pepsi Porch. Enjoy David Wright in the prime of his career because you might not appreciate him until he has become a little less fantastic. I’ll continue my development as pie maker, using the ingredients and method that my grandma firmly taught me to achieve the ultimate dream of making the perfect pie and maybe, Alderson is doing something similar in New York.

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