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Monday, September 12, 2011

•The Mets Miss their Own Point•

Cubs 10 - Mets 6
Many remember when the Mets played the Braves on September 21, 2001. It was the first game played in New York after the 9/11 attacks ten years ago. We remember feeling nervous about a big event like a baseball game in an open air stadium after what the city and the country had just been through. We remember Liza Minnelli breaking the somber ice with her rendition of New York, New york. And Met fans no doubt remember Mike Piazza putting a charge into the night with his dramatic 8th inning 2 run homer that gave the Mets the lead over the Braves. But possibly what all of us remember most was the New York Mets not wearing their traditional NY caps, but instead the hats of the FDNY, NYPD, Port Authority, EMT, EMS, and other first responders. 
Major League Baseball did not want the Mets to wear these "unofficial" hats, and Todd Zeile, player rep for the Mets at the time, was warned of heavy fines if players defied the edict. When push came to shove, closer John Franco, shoved. In what was reported as "not so polite terms" the native New Yorker made it clear he was wearing an FDNY hat on the field. One by one the rest of the Mets and coaching staff fell into place.
The statement was a simple and beautiful gesture. All of us wear the caps of our favorite teams and the players we look up to. On this night, the New York Mets made it clear to the first responders of the 9/11 tragedy that they were the real heros of New York-the team that the Mets loved, looked up to, and were rooting for. It became one of the most memorable moments in baseball and our country's history. Our national pastime was helping New York and the nation begin to heal. The gesture helped all of us send a message of thanks and gratitude. By wearing the hats, The Mets said what we didn't know how to put in to words. When Piazza's home run punctuated the night, everyone across the nation was a Met fan because they knew in their hearts the NY Mets were rooting for the right team, the first responders of 9/11.
Ten years later, on the anniversary of 9/11, it would seem to be a no brainer that the Mets would once again wear the hats of the first responders during their nationally televised game against the Chicago Cubs. But, once again, MLB, now led by new Bud Selig goon Joe Torre, said no to the hats. The Mets could wear them during BP and the pre-game ceremonies but were to not wear them on the field during the game.
Joe Torre claimed MLB wanted "uniformity" on this national day of rememberance. All teams had an American flag sewn on to their standard cap. No doubt another sales market tool drummed up by the tools running MLB. Mets Blob feels that Torre taking part in this decision and playing enforcer was particularly heartless, egregious, and clueless. Torre was the manager of the New York Yankees in 2001 and a former Mets player/manager. He knows better than anyone the importance of wearing these hats, as he wore them constantly after the tragedy. You are a coward, Joe. It's very sad to see you are now just another one of Bud's bitches.
The Mets of 2011 have been touted as "scrappy" all season but proved on Sunday that they have no balls. Josh Thole (Met union rep) had a meeting with Terry Collins asking about wearing the hats during the game. Collins' stance was to do what MLB asked.  Team votes proved wishy washy, and the 2011 Mets did not wear the hats during the game on the field. It's no surprise the Mets' vote fell soft. Thole has no control over his pitching staff either.
David Wright was spotted wearing his NYPD hat in the dugout, but according to RA Dickey by the 4th inning, all hats worn by the players during BP and the open ceremonies were taken away from them. Funny, baseball players were so good at hiding performance enhancing drugs for so long that you'd think hiding an extra FDNY hat in your gear would be pretty freakin' easy.
The Mets were not expected to have the same courage as a first responder answering the call to a burning building, but you'd think they could muster up the guts to stand up for what they knew was right like John Franco did. What were they were so afraid? Who knows? Maybe the fines were so great they'd finally put the Wilpons under. In 2001, MLB never did make good on their threats of fining the NY Mets. Even as backwards as Bud's bunch of bean counters is, they knew that PR gaff would have been very ugly.

However, the Mets tradition of honoring the 9/11 first responders was alive and well in New Jersey. Something that an MLB team created yet botched 10 years later, the NFL knew was the right call. Eight weeks ago, the NFL was not sure if they would even be playing games on September 11th, yet still knew that the hats and other images to honor first responders was the way to go.
Throughout the nationally televised game, NY Jets head coach, Rex Ryan and his brother, Rob, the Dallas Cowboys' defensive coordinator, could be seen wearing FDNY hats. 
Mets Blob thanks John Franco and the 2001 Mets for their iconic gesture. It's just sad MLB officials didn't recognize what a special moment it was in 2001. The fighting spirit the Mets showed that night is the same fighting spirit we as a country needed to rebuild.

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