The New York Jets and New York Mets both have diehard, long-suffering fan bases (often intertwined), who aren't asking for much -- just a little competence from the management and ownership of their respective teams. But those fans are being tested once again with the present status of their beloved yet befuddled franchises, and they are being asked to have the patience of Job. The biblical figure went on to live to be 140 years old, by the way -- can you imagine watching the recent editions of the Jets and Mets for another century or so? Now that's a test of faith.
Woody Johnson, Mike Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan are slowly joining Fred and Jeff Wilpon as untrustworthy leaders, with fans' confidence in the trio waning by the day. Over the last few seasons, the Jets have gone from AFC Championship Game combatant to out of the playoffs to the noncompetitive disaster that's become of the 2012 season. Mike Tannenbaum has gambled and lost on most of the players he's chosen to let go and attain. He's made the wrong call on which of Mark Sanchez's receivers to hold on to, and the offensive line, the defense and special teams have all gone downhill. The GM hasn't really picked up any hidden gems either. The talent has clearly been downgraded as opposed to bolstered.
Tannenbaum's headline-loving boss hasn't made things easy for him, with the head-scratching acquisition of Tim Tebow, which is thought to be Johnson's hare-brained scheme. Tebow stands out as the Jets' symbol of dysfunction -- they clearly have no clue what to do with the lightning-rod quarterback. Are they afraid if he succeeds it will make Mark Sanchez look bad (well, even worse than he's been)? And if they don't think he's any good, why did they trade for him? Did the coaching staff want Tebow in the first place? Probably not. They have two quarterbacks, and neither looks like the solution for the future. Ryan stands by Sanchez to a fault, for good or bad, but the coach has no answers for the woes of his team, his locker room is filled with finger-pointing and a clear lack of harmony and his blustery act has gotten stale. The team, on and off the field, is a mess.
The Wilpons are beyond the trust factor. They're pretty much a lost cause at this point in their too-long tenure as owners of the Mets. But the jury's still out on Sandy Alderson. Was he foisted upon the Mets by Fred Wilpon's pal, Bud Selig? Is Alderson just a front man for the newly penurious Wilpons? When the GM releases Jason Bay, a good-will move toward the fans and one that is addition by subtraction on the field, is he really just dangling a shiny set of keys in front of us to distract from the real issues? While the Miami Marlins steamrolled over their roster and fan base, without a thought in the world to the consequences of what they did with their most recent fire-sale dismantling act, the Mets approach their roster and rebuilding with tepid kid gloves. At least they seem to have a plan, though, while the Marlins changed course faster than you can say, "Jeffrey Loria is a crook." Alderson bungled the Jose Reyes situation, and also neglected to get any return for Scott Hairston when he could have gotten something, anything, back for the outfielder. Yes, he was one of the only productive Mets last season, but with all due respect to Hairston it wasn't as if fans were streaming into Citi Field to pay to watch him hit an occasional home run.
So, is Alderson all in with the stockpiling of young players? Which means: Does he trade popular Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey and/or David Wright? The Mets certainly have many holes to fill, and they feel that starting pitching is a strength to deal from, but if they jettison Dickey, that leaves Jon Niese and Matt Harvey. We have no idea what Johan Santana will look like in 2013, Zack Wheeler hasn't thrown one pitch in the major leagues, so he's still a mystery, high ceiling or not, Dillon Gee hasn't shown any signs of being more than a back-of-the-rotation guy and Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia aren't close to being major-league ready and are no locks for future success, and both may end up in the bullpen anyway. So will the Mets be weakening the one area of strength they now have? Is Alderson really just selling his fans a miracle elixir or snake oil with his bargain-bin hunting and wait until 2014 philosophy? Or does he have the guts to deal away Dickey or Wright when he couldn't let go of Reyes? Should he trade them at all, though? A gamble either way has the chance to go terribly wrong.
And what do we make of Terry Collins? He promised that his Met teams would play the game the right way, hustle and be fundamentally sound. But that clearly hasn't been the case. His benching of Lucas Duda in September was too little, too late, as the Mets spent most of the season doing their usual lack-of-hustle, lollygagging-around-the-bases routine, without a peep from Collins.
So who do we trust? Any of these guys that run the Jets and the Mets?Are Tannenbaum's days numbered? Does Ryan get one more chance? Do the Jets have to start from scratch again? Can Alderson make all the right decisions and really turn the Mets around? Can we really trust the two teams' management to do the right thing? Well, we don't really have a choice but to trust them, do we? We don't do the firing and hiring -- Johnson and Wilpon do. But, of course, when have they ever done the right thing? As we've learned, they can't be trusted themselves.