DANNAMORA, NY – Opening Day of the 2010 season at Citifield was a blustery Monday in early April. The Mets were hosting the then Florida Marlins. As old warhorse Ed Lynch and I sat down in our seats, introductions began with the full pomp and circumstance that accompanies every opening day.
For teams that never make it to the postseason (ahem) this is the one day when virtually every team employee gets introduced to the fans. Assistant to the Traveling Secretary Costanza, HR sensitivity trainer Jeffy Wilpon (too soon?) Director of Security Ruben Rivera, whatever. They all get their names called once a year.
Next on the list that day came the team trainer o’ death Ray Ramirez, and strength and conditioning coach Stephen Hawking. There have been very few times in the past 30 odd years when I’ve been prouder to be a Met fan because in unison, a crowd of about 40,000 booed the hell out of those quacks. The guys who are charged with tending to the turned ankles, the sore elbows, the turf toes were greeted lustily and mercilessly. Ed had to cover his ears. The previous year saw the Mets send 20 players to the Disabled List contributing to a record 1,480 missed games for 2009. So the crowd was out for blood. Who were these charlatans who couldn’t heal our guys?
Fast forward 6 years, and the Mets are still cursed, and still lead the league in just one category – guys on the DL. It’s easier to name the organization’s pitchers who HAVEN’T already had Tommy John Surgery. Unlike any team in any sport, a bruise or a twist or a stub suffered by a Mets player generates real concern about whether that player will ever be seen again. Why?
What do the Mets medical people do or don’t do that dooms these players? The DL is the “Roach Motel” for anyone landing on the DL with the Mets. Guys with seemingly mild injuries go in… and don’t come out. David Wright tweaked his hammy in April – was supposed to return in early May – but I get the sense that we’ve seen the last of the former golden boy in the Blue & Orange… Daniel Murphy, the team’s best hitter in Wright’s absence, suffered a strained quad three weeks ago and now has been afflicted with the dreaded “set-back” syndrome that besets all disabled Mets. Who knows when we’ll see Murph slashing doubles and running into needless outs again?
How can one team suffer so many injuries and recover from these injuries at the same speed as Bartolo Colon going first to third? It is the inside dark joke among Met fans. A pitcher gets a blister? Surgery tomorrow morning.
To compound matters, the Mets – with their anemic “offense” and sieve like “defense” – will be getting no reinforcements any time soon. Ancient (Real) Sandy Alderson has a child’s view of his players’ value, and as such asks for the moon in exchange for something out of his basket of misfit players. Thus, there will be no trades any time soon. In the meantime, can this damn team at least get a couple of doctors who don’t advertise on Craigslist?
Come back tomorrow for a guy who sells everything he has on Craigslist, Angry Ward.