Are the Mets the new Knicks?

What will the Yankees do with Chien-Ming Wang?
Yanks acquire Jason Hirsh

Ben is out for the next week and a half, so to help carry the load we’ve contacted a few Yankees bloggers to help out with some guest articles. First up is Jay from Fack Youk. He takes an interesting look at the Mets and how they relate to another blue and orange New York team, the Knicks. No, this is not Yankees-related, but I think it’s a good read, as is Jay’s whole blog — his partner in crime, Matt, should hit us with something else next week.

If this isn’t your cup of tea, you can check out our trade deadline open thread and Mike’s post on what to do with Chien-Ming Wang.

The similarities go beyond just the blue and orange. Both teams are owned by father/son duos and have been plagued by recent failures despite having payrolls near or at the top of their respective sports. Each franchise has only two championships in their history and has made the playoffs exactly one out of the past eight seasons. They both have had their front offices’ dirty laundry aired in the New York tabloids in recent years.

Not that Jose Reyes ever asked a Mets intern if she was going to “get in the truck,” or Omar Minaya sexually harassed a fellow member of the front office, but there is a big distinction between having an unsuccessful franchise and having the details of why your organization is a disaster printed for the world to see. At the center of these two debacles are two executives who have/had close relationships with the owners of their teams but terrible ones with the media.

While serving as President of Basketball Operations for the Knicks, Isiah Thomas spoke with the placid monotone of someone who was heavily medicated, spouting off cliches and dropping wincers such as “To me, it’s win or die. And I literally mean death. I don’t mean walk away. I mean death. That’s how I approach it”. Omar, on the other hand has a penchant for mixing metaphors, inaccurate tensing (“He has lobby myself”) and verbal tics, you know what I’m saying?

Initially credited with making the Mets an attractive destination and recruiting players like Pedro Martinez, Carlos Delgado and Billy Wagner, Omar’s track record is tainted by severely overpaying for Luis Castillo, giving Moises Alou $15M for 414 plate appearances and locking up Oliver Perez, (who is currently humming along to the tune of a 7.42 ERA) for three years and $36M. The Johan Santana trade alone puts Minaya ahead of Thomas in terms of transactions that turned out favorably for their team, but the number of playoff appearances and dollars each team has spent speak for themselves.

Back on March 12th, 2007, with Knicks holding a record of 29-34 and sitting at 8th place in the Eastern Conference, James Dolan singed Isiah Thomas to a three year extension. Nine months earlier, Dolan had issued an ultimatum, saying the Knicks would have to make “evident progress” in order to Isiah to return as coach the following year.

The team had gone 23-59 under Larry Brown the year before, so they did improve, but the timing was curious. Dolan could have waited to see how the season turned out, but instead said “the improvement needs to be recognized now and not wait”. The team responded with a horrid 4-14 stretch and finished 7 games out of the playoffs. Thirteen months later, Thomas was “reassigned” and banned from having any contact with the team, effectively ending his tenure as Knicks GM and coach.

Immediately following the conclusion of the 2008 season, the second one in a row which concluded by the Mets getting nudged out of October on the last day of the season after holding a significant lead with less than three weeks to go, Jeff Wilpon offered Omar Minaya a three year contract extension. The timing again was questionable, as the GM had a full year left on his current deal, but Wilpon said “we think he deserves another chance to keep getting us to where we want to be”.

The Mets are currently in 4th place in the NL East and behind seven other teams in contention for the Wild Card, 5.5 games back. Unfortunately for Minaya, the on-the-field performance can be largely explained away by injuries, but the power structure of the Mets organization has come under fire as of late. First with the clumsy axing of Willie Randolph last year, but most recently the zany antics of Tony Bernazard and the ensuing unsuccessful attempted public sacrifice of beat writer Adam Rubin’s journalistic integrity, the team has become a punching bag for the New York Media. Rubin wondered aloud how he could continue his duties as a reporter covering theMets after the incident, but one has to question whether Omar can continue running them.

Even since they hired Donnie Walsh to head their basketball operations back in April of last year, the Knicks have had an air of credibility around them, even though their play on the floor was still sub-par. A well-respected veteran of the Pacers’ front office, Walsh is candid with the media and his Wikipedia page doesn’t require a separate section for “Controversy”. Could the Mets benefit from a similar move?

It’s quite unlikely that the Mets leapfrog seven teams (or three in the NL East) and sneak into the playoffs this year. Since Minaya’s new contract doesn’t even start until the end of this season and won’t end until 2012, keeping him around would be a prudent financial move. Rob Neyer doesn’t think that will play a role in the decision, though.

Has Omar passed the point of no return?

I personally don’t think so and don’t feel certain that his successor would necessarily bring a new direction to the franchise, other than the symbolic overture of axing Minaya. That said, public perception and fan placation is a big part of being a successful sports team in New York, and the Wilpon’s have to be prepared to deal with a lot of backlash if they stand by their man.

What will the Yankees do with Chien-Ming Wang?
Yanks acquire Jason Hirsh
  • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

    No.

    The Knicks are the new Mets. Or the Mets are the old Knicks.

    Either way, King James isn’t going to save either of them…they should both just be folded into the Yankee Empire. Or Universe. either way.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    The Mets public relations skills makes the Knicks public relations skills look like the Red Sox public relations skills.

    And this movie’s gonna make House Party look like House Party 2!

  • Lanny

    Is this serious? I know you want to get people talking and engaged but comparing the Mets to the Knicks is ludicrous. Just because Omar has trouble public speaking because he is speaking his second language doesn’t make him Isiah Thomas and a sexual harasser.

    The Mets also will be right back in the playoff hunt next yr when everyone is healthy and they add pieces on the FA market. The Knicks won’t be a playoff team for a decade without getting Lebron.

    I know the media is protecting its boy Rubin and everything but Omar could have savaged him without looking like an arse with a little politics. A systematic sprinkling to various media outlets about his motives and what hes been asking. It isn’t hard to do. Flipping out killed him but what do you expect? Its his second language.

    • AndrewYF

      You mean when 2-bad-knees Beltran and 1 billion year old Delgado are healthy? The only other main guy who’s hurt is Reyes.

      The Mets aren’t going anywhere next season, or the next few. Their farm system has been shite for a while, and it’s not getting better with Omar and his staff making draft choices based on how much of a discount they can get them at. Add that to their mismanagement of the top prospects they do manage to find (Milledge, Pelfrey, F-Mart for a few notable examples), and you have a big, sloppy mess on your hands. It’s way past time for Minaya to go. He’s awful.

    • Salty Buggah

      So, you’re a bitter Mets fan? It all makes sense now

  • Tony

    Would we be calling for Cashman’s head if ARod, Jeter, Cano, Wang, and Burnett all went down at the same time?

    • http://twitter.com/themanchine Bruno

      Omar has made some bonehead moves the last few years. I’ll just mention he went into last season with Pedro and El Duque INKED (not penciled) into the rotation and Moises Alou in LF. Plus, need I remind you of Castillo’s contract?

    • http://www.fackyouk.blogspot.com Jay @ Fack Youk

      I would be if Cashman’s top lieutenant was completely out of control and during the press conference Cash called to fire him, he called out Peter Abraham for asking people within the organization for career advice, implying that he was violating journalistic integrity. But that would never happen.

      They’ve had one playoff appearance since Omar was hired in 2003. He doesn’t have the track record of success with the franchise to compensate how poorly he represents it publicly.

  • http://twitter.com/themanchine Bruno

    As a Knicks fan, the title of this thread is insulting. Isiah’s not in MSG anymore, let it go. In Donnie we trust!

  • DougFunnie

    As a long suffering Knicks fan, I can proclaim this proudly…

    The Mets are the Steelers compared to my pathetic B-ball squad.

    Seriosuly, the Mets have a foundation of Santana, K-rod, Wright

    Beltran, & Reyes. My Knicks have what… D-Lee, Nate, Chandler &

    the Galinari?!? Please, I wish the Knicks were as lucky as the

    Mutts. Although, Joseph Pawlikowski I do concur on how Isiah

    compares to Omar and I hope for our little brother Mets do fire

    him soon. Trust me getting rid of Isiah & Starbury has restored my

    dignity to be a Knicks fan again.