Jose Valverde (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Jose Valverde’s time with the New York Mets came to an end Monday after he took the loss in the team’s 5-3 defeat by the Pittsburgh Pirates on Memorial Day (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

The circus of the damned continues in Flushing, Queens, but it will go on without deposed hitting coach Dave Hudgens and ex-closer Jose Valverde, who were both dismissed after a disheartening Memorial Day loss.

On his way out, Hudgens blamed the relatively small number of fans who still come to the games for the Mets’ struggles at home.

“I think the fans are really tough on the guys at home. How can you boo Curtis Granderson? They have no idea how hard this guy works and how he goes about doing his business, doing his job. He gets off to a slow start and they’re booing him? Come on,” Hudgens told MLB.com “It’s tougher at home to play than it is on the road, there’s no doubt about it. And they’re trying really hard at home.”

I don’t advocate booing your own players unless they show a clear lack of effort or otherwise disrespect the fans, but Hudgens sounds clueless. How can you boo Curtis Granderson? Well, he made an awful first impression. In 25 games in April, Granderson had a .136 / .252 / .216 slash line with one home run and seven RBI. And you can’t expect fans to look at his track record without remembering that Granderson used to be a New York Yankee and played a lot better for the Mets’ crosstown neighbors.

It’s wonderful that the Mets players are “trying really hard” at home, but in the real world, effort is only rewarded in relation to the tangible results that are produced by it. The results in May have not been pretty: 17 losses and just 7 wins.

Hopefully Lamar Johnson can get better results from the Mets’ lineup. If he does, it’s a clear indictment of Hudgens since Johnson will be presenting the same hitting philosophy to the same “students” that Hudgens had. If he does not, then it’s a reflection on Sandy Alderson’s roster construction and the organizational hitting philosophy.

And while some fans may be overly hostile towards Mets players who under-perform, the organization is even more hostile towards its remaining fans.

As an example: Sunday was Banner Day, a tradition dating back to the early days in franchise history where fans produce banners and march around the warning track to express positive feelings about the team. Originally, the Banner Day parade was held between games of a scheduled doubleheader so their would be people in the stands to appreciate the efforts of the banner makers.

With Friday’s rain out turning Sunday’s single game into a doubleheader, the Mets could have gone back to that tradition. Instead, they opted to  start the Banner Day parade at 11:30 a.m. when the ballpark was virtually empty. And the ushers were making sure that the few hundred people who were inside Citi Field at the time couldn’t go anywhere near the field unless they had tickets for that section.

In previous years, Mets players would bring out a banner on behalf of the team that saluted the fans. No such gesture this time – I guess it was deemed another distraction. (Though maybe the players want new fans as badly as we want new players.)

(A few of my favorite banners from 2014 are pictured below.)

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About Paul Hadsall

I'm the former editor of a weekly community newspaper and current contributor to Hot Stove Baseball. I've been a New York Mets fan for most of my life and I've been blogging about them, minor league baseball, baseball cards and autograph collecting since 2007. Contact me at paul@randombaseballstuff.com

7 responses

  1. markruck says:

    Hudgens is the problem? No, it’s far higher than that. Getting rid of Hudgens is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. A good start would be to throw the owner of the boat overboard.

    Playing .440 ball right now, the Mets are on pace to win 71. The good news is that the Mets could have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to pitching and maybe they can trade some for some good bats. But this year is a goner. And there’s no way that anyone can convince me that Granderson is worth $15 mil per, Chris Young $7 mil and Colon $10 mil per. Sorry.

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  2. Stubby says:

    Even though I always thought Hudgens was a terrible hitting coach–and you know I did (and the pitching coach sucks, too, but he’s got better material to work with)–I agree with him. Today’s Mets fans suck. They don’t support the team at all. Its like they only call themselves fans to “grant them the privilege” of being miserable SOBs and raggin’ on everybody from the owner to the batboys. Yeah, you Mets fans, you probably cost this teams as many wins a year as Terry Collins and Ruben Tejada combined–probably more. Go ask Ike, who is doing very well now that he’s free of you.

    Back in the worst of Mets days–the Dark Ages of M. Donald Grant–we didn’t boo the Mets. We rooted on every Richie Puig and Roy Staiger and Luis Alvarado that wore the blue and orange (exception: Richie Hebner, and that’s fair because he hated us first). And, if someone did boo, the rest of us set them straight. You don’t boo the guys you’re rooting for. How stupid is that? You don’t waste your time tilting at owners as though your sheer will is going to convince them to sell. You turn out and root for whomever is on your team. You support them as though every game is the World Series. You take every moment of pleasure from the game that you can. Didn’t anybody ever see Mr. 3000 or any of the other good baseball movies? When you don’t support the Mets, its like multiplying their weaknesses by 100,000. The energy you put out into the universe does matter. Just not the way you think it does. If you’re a parent and you call your kid a stupid loser every day, he’s more than likely going to fulfill your lowest expectations and probably exceed them.

    You wanna know one huge reason the Mets lose so many ballgames? Look in the mirror, Mets “fans”.

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    • markruck says:

      Stubby,

      Interesting reply.

      On one hand, I understand your “support” argument as there’s an emotional tie between people and major league franchises that isn’t really there in the minors. We’ve had this discussion before regarding the Newark Bears. Suffice it to say that minor league ball is a night out while, for the cost of a night at a major league park, there had better be something more there than just a night out.

      Disclaimer: I’ve been a Mets fan since 1965. Various owners and GMs have done lots of stupid crap and I went out to the games when they were drawing less than 10,000 per back in the late ’70s. I could never root for anyone else as it would be opportunism.

      On the other hand, I’d be less than honest if I didn’t boo them when they were stinking up the joint, which is about where they’ve been for the past five years or so. As a fan and when I spend my hard-earned money to go out to Citi Field (which isn’t often because it’s expensive and I really don’t have the patience to sit through what has become an MLB epidemic of three-hour-plus games), I get the right to voice my displeasure, as long as I keep it within the bounds of good taste. Don’t blame the sins of ownership on the players, you might say? My answer to that is that the Mets are a TEAM. They win together and they lose together.

      I’m a realist. I’m happy when they win and, given the current state of affairs, not surprised when they lose. There are better days coming, especially on the pitching side. Supporting is one thing. Express pleasure at the good plays and games. Express disappointment at the bad plays and games. But cheering blindly is something else entirely as that’s being disingenuous.

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      • Stubby says:

        Here’s the thing, Mark. Good, bad or indifferent, the Mets play better on the road than at home. Its not supposed to be that way. Same team, so what accounts for the difference? Some say its the ballpark. But, as Paul has pointed out before, the visiting teams don’t seem to have a problem playing at CitiField…just the Mets. No, the difference is clearly the so-called “fans”. Most teams can count upon the support of their hometown folks. It makes a difference. The Mets players know that the hometown “fans” hate and revile them. If David Wright hits a home run, they aren’t cheering, “Yay! David hit a home run!” They get snarky and nasty. “Well, its about damn time. Do you mind telling me how many months it’ll be before you hit another one, because my time is valuable. Oh, and we lost anyway, so suck it Captain America.” These aren’t fans. I’m telling you. They hate the owners. They hate the manager. They hate the players. They hate the ballpark. What is it they like, then? The team colors? No, I submit they love the bitchin’ and moanin’. They love to put the Mets down because it makes them feel better about themselves. And it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Looking at it objectively, Sandy has laid the groundwork for a successful organization. 2014 was never going to be the year. In Cashen’s 4th year, the Mets finished last and looked worse doing it than they had in the previous years. No, 2015 was always going to be the year they turned the corner for real. And 2016 is the year the Mets should fully arrive. That’s baseball. It takes 5 years to build an organization and always has. But I have never seen such an impatient group of jackals claiming to be fans. And, if their lot continues to represent the majority of Mets “fans”, then the Mets will never win anything because they will continue to fare worse at home than on the road. And I am equally certain that these so-called fans are happy about that.

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        • markruck says:

          Stubby,

          Counting this season, the Mets have had a worse home record for the past four seasons. The first two seasons at Citi Field, the home advantages were +12 (’09) and +15 (’10). And they were sub-.500 for those two seasons, too. And you want to blame the fans for the past four seasons? Or was it moving in the fences, because they actually built a park that originally favored doubles and triples and was different than darned near any other MLB home run palace? Or was it Omar Minaya, who ran the team into the ground? Or was it the Wilpons, who got into more than a bit of financial hot water and slashed the payroll?

          In this day and age, a team can be bought, especially in a large market like NY or LA. All you need is a savvy GM and an open wallet. But, giving $60 mil to Granderson, $7 mil to Chris Young and $20 million to Colon shows no signs of that savvy management. The Mets are penny-pinching (yet somehow, when they open their wallet, they get stupid) and have been using the rebuilding line for a while. Mets fans are a pretty savvy bunch, too, and have heard that BS line one too many times. You charge me $20 bucks to park, at least $25-50 for a halfway decent seat $6 for a hot dog (maybe more) and eight bucks for a beer to watch a marginal MLB team and you want Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood? Be thankful anyone comes at all.

          After all that, I get where you’re coming from. You see, we learned exactly one thing from Viet Nam. When the troops came home, they were treated like crap because many of those against the war had difficulty separating the troops doing their job from a failed government policy. So, when the Gulf Wars and Afghanistan rolled around, we treated the troops well in spite of the failed policies and the lies.

          So, the booing at Citi Field is probably the equivalent of expressing displeasure at the Generals and the suits rather than the troops and cheering might be construed as approval of the failed Mets policy. And, as the Generals and suits are charging a family of four $200 or more to get a decent seat at the war, so to speak, I would think that a large majority of the fans have no idea how to express their support for the troops while also getting the point across that the Generals and suits have to go. Cheering alone doesn’t cut it. There has to be another way.

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  3. Ryan says:

    Cool pics from Banner Day, at least you were able to get close enough to get some good shots. I know you’ve enjoyed the event over the years.

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  4. Paul says:

    The fan reaction at Citi Field certainly seems to have gotten to Dave Hudgens and Curtis Granderson, or they wouldn’t have spent time talking about it over the past week. I’d like to see them accept accountability for their own poor performances, but the booing probably is affecting him to some degree. (I suspect the need to be a cleanup hitter is a bigger part of any pressure Granderson feels, though. He never had to be the guy with the Yankees, and he spent most of his time with Detroit as a leadoff hitter.)

    Indifference may be a bigger problem, though. There’s more energy at indy league games where people come mainly to watch the post-game fireworks than there is most days at Citi Field.

    Patience and five-year plans are all fine & dandy, but we really aren’t seeing measurable progress at the major league level under Sandy Alderson’s regime. The Mets of Frank Cashen’s era had fewer alternatives competing for people’s attention span and entertainment dollars. If the prospects we’re waiting for turn out to be the next Mike Pelfreys and Ike Davises instead of the next David Wrights and Dwight Goodens, I’m not sure the Mets franchise will be able to hang onto enough fans to survive the Wilpon family’s term of ownership.

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