02/15/12 12:20 AM EST
New York sports scene should inspire Mets
By By Terence Moore / MLB.com
It's just that when it comes to the world of professional sports these days around the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, turning bad news into good news only involves a New York state of mind.
As for the bad news involving the Mets, it's two-fold. And here's part one: They've been so financially strapped by the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme that a New York paper suggested that Mets general manager Sandy Alderson was forced to drive to Spring Training in Florida to save money.
Alderson joked about the claim through Twitter, but this was more negative stuff for a team that suddenly can't stay away from it.
There was last season, for instance, when the Mets finished a ridiculous 25 games out of first place in the National League East. They had the second-most errors in the league with 116. Their home attendance dropped for the third consecutive year. They also traded All-Star outfielder Carlos Beltran and premier closer Francisco Rodriguez.
Then, during the offseason, the Mets lost shortstop Jose Reyes, their biggest crowd-pleaser, to the Miami Marlins through free agency.
There is hope for the Mets, though, and it starts with part two of their bad news, which is: So many pro teams within a few fungoes of Citi Field are making Frank Sinatra prophetic, because they are singing, "To find I'm king of the hill, head of the list, cream of the crop, at top of the heap."
That's because those New York-area pro teams keep surviving to become either kings or someone in pursuit of the throne.
Thus, the Mets' hope.
The Yankees have something better than hope. They have a record 27 World Series championships, including five since the last time the Mets captured their second and most recent one in 1986.
Plus, while the Mets spent each of the previous three seasons finishing at least 18 games out of first place, the Yankees were playoff bound. And they continue to blind the Mets from the shine of their pinstriped star power, ranging from Derek Jeter to Alex Rodriguez to Mariano Rivera.
The Mets never will become the Yankees on a consistent basis, because nobody can. But here's the essence of the Mets' good news: The prowess or the promise out of nowhere for those other pro teams in New York. Ever hear of Lin-Sanity?
Until as recently as a week or so ago, the Knicks were the Mets, and that's not a compliment.
Then, with yawns as pronounced inside Madison Square Garden as losses, some guy at the end of the Knicks' bench named Jeremy Lin took the court.
This was during another one of those many stretches in recent years in which the Knicks threatened to sink further into mediocrity. They also were without highly-paid players Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire.
So there was Lin, an undrafted nobody from Harvard, which has produced more presidents (eight) than NBA players (three). This was the same Lin who was cut by two other NBA teams and was on the verge of getting whacked by the Knicks.
You know the rest.
Six starts for Lin and six wins for the Knicks, with their new point guard doing enough as a playmaker, shooter and defender to make folks say, "Walt Frazier, who?"
According to Madison Square Garden Co., which owns the Knicks, local television ratings for Knicks games were up more than 50 percent after Lin's first four games as a starter.
Shares of MSG stock also reached a record high this week. That was partly due to Lin and partly due to the New York Rangers, another team owned by MSG. The Rangers are in first place in the NHL's Atlantic Division, and only the Detroit Red Wings own a better record than the Rangers in the league.
We mention this because the Rangers barely made the playoffs last year before an early exit, and they didn't qualify for the postseason the year prior.
Thus more hope for the Mets.
Which rhymes with Jets, an NFL tease in recent years.
Even so, the Jets reached the AFC Championship Game two of the last three seasons after years of looking clueless -- you know, like the Mets.
Oh, and the New York Giants just won the Super Bowl for the second time in four years. Along the way to both world championships, they were a mess during the season.
But the Giants recovered.
So can the Mets, victims of more than a few significant injuries last season. They had the ankle of slugger Ike Davis, the back of team inspiration David Wright and the shoulder of ace pitcher Johan Santana. Those players all are expected to return this season. And maybe so will the Miracle Mets.
Or at least the Competitive Mets.
Terence Moore is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.