In the July 31st Times Magazine, a lengthy article titled Building the Beisbol Brand outlined how under the direction of baseball's only Dominican-born General Manager Omar Minaya, the Mets
"Are going a step further, self-consciously rebuilding and, no less important, rebranding themselves as an international team whose ethnic makeup will reflect the increasingly Hispanic city they represent. The team's Latin-inflected style of play — fast, aggressive, emotional — will be unmistakable and, if Minaya's hunch is correct, irresistible to New York. But the birth of the so-called New Mets points up a cultural shift in the game as much as a stylistic one. Long one of the great institutions of assimilation — immigrants once studied box scores so they might sound more American — baseball now celebrates, even exploits, its diversity."
Predictably, and sadly, reporter Jonathan Mahler writes about targeting Hispanic fans, Spanish-language advertising and the rest of the tedious story.
And Mahler notes, again predictably, that Met pitcher Pedro Martinez and outfielder Carlos Beltran have brought out the fans.
But fans show up to watch good baseball. And at the risk of appearing hopelessly stuck in a time warp, I will point out that the last time the Mets appeared in the World Series, (in 2000) their line-up looked like this:
C-Mike Piazza; 1st Base-Todd Zeile; 2nd Base-Edgardo Alphonso (Venezuela); SS-Rey Ordonez (Cuba) and 3rd Base-Robin Ventura. In the outfield: Derek Bell, Darryl Hamilton and Rickey Henderson. Mike Hampton, Rick Reed and Al Leiter anchored the pitching staff. Note: Ordonez hit .188.
Going back to 1986, when the Mets won the World Series, the line-up was as follows:
C-Gary Carter; 1st Base-Keith Hernandez (non-Spanish speaking Californian); 2nd Base-Tim Teufel; SS-Rafael Santanta (Dominican Republic); 3rd Base; Ray Knight. Outfielders: George Foster, Darryl Strawberry and Lenny Dykstra. The pitchers were Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling, Bob Ojeda and Sid Fernandez (non-Spanish speaking Hawaiian).
Get the point? Hispanics are good players. Japanese are good too.
But Americans are great players. Let's not forget it.
What a shame that even the national pastime is being turned into media circus celebrating Hispanic achievement.
Closing observation: As of July 31st, the Mets are in last place in the National League East with a 52-51 record. The team has lost 6 of its last ten games.