Mets and MLB Drop the Ball on First Responder Tribute

Mets and MLB Drop the Ball on First Responder Tribute

Mets honor 911 First Responders

Mets and MLB Drop the Ball on First Responder Tribute

It's a sad situation that the players could not properly honor 9-11 first responders

There was no Mike Piazza to homer off Steve Karsay last night. Even if there were, I doubt yesterday’s Mets- Cubs game could ever recreate the drama of September 21st, 2001. The Mets did a nice job honoring the ten year anniversary of 9-11. They had alums get involved all weekend and participate in charity events. The pre-game ceremony was also well done. It would have been nice to cap off the weekend with a win, but the thin Mets bullpen is not equipped to go long into extra innings. The ending on the field was not the most disappointing part, however, but rather the team and league’s refusal to allow the players to wear the hats of first responders on the field.

Back in 2001, you saw the Mets wear hats of the FDNY, NYPD, EMT, and PAPD, among others.

Mets Honor 9-11 Responders in 2001The best part about this tribute was some of the hats were actually worn by the responders. It wasn’t just a facsimile, which brought even more meaning to the gesture. MLB actually tried to stop the team at that time, but Bobby Valentine and his group ignored the request and played the rest of the season with the caps. Yesterday, the 2011 Mets attempted to add the hats to the night’s festivities, but MLB and Mets brass put the kibosh on the idea. Unlike their 2001 brethren, the team adhered to the request and only wore the caps during the pre-game and in the dugout.

It was the league and Mets front office who dropped the ball.

I don’t blame the players for this situation. In a clubhouse with 12 potential free agents, as well as a number of players with limited service time, it’s hard to see them going against a league that has shown a long memory for viewed indiscretions. Jose Reyes doesn’t get impacted, but a Willie Harris or Scott Hairston always has to think about the deciding factor being something off the field. It may be perception versus reality, but the world of MLB politics is cruel. Talk to any player in a similar position and they fear the political ramifications for speaking out when they are a component piece in this league. Maybe you could criticize David Wright and Jose Reyes, but it’s never been their personality to go against the grain.

The real culprits are MLB and Mets ownership.

I understand the league wanting to have standards about the clothing on the field. You start to allow too many special hats and all of a sudden there is a marketing guru requesting a “Mickey Mouse night” where the players were mouse ears on the field for the purpose of advertising dollars. This wasn’t a situation where the Mets were trying to sell additional merchandise, but honor the people who serve New York City on a daily basis; the people who were first in the line of fire on September 11th. If you can’t rationalize that versus a “Mercury Mets” hat, then I fear this league is in worse shape than we all can imagine.

Additionally, to respond by calling the hats “sacrosanct” is dishonest at worst and tone deaf at best. We aren’t talking about religious garb here; it’s replacing an article of clothing that has been compromised over the years for the purpose of selling merchandise. If the Mets decided to sell NYPD hats during the game the league would have more of a reason to complain.

The Mets ownership and front office not fighting back with the league is most disappointing.

Mets Honor 9-11 Responders It shouldn’t be surprising considering the hot water ownership has been in over the last couple of years. Remember, they owe MLB about $25 million dollars. Despite the embarrassing financial situation the Wilpons have been in, Bud Selig has stood by them. You think he will look kindly to the organization embarrassing him on national television?

Do you think Fred and Jeff Wilpon want to say “screw you” to the man that holds their ownership future in his hands? What should anger the fan base is how the team didn’t seem to anticipate this issue and petition the league before the season. It seemed like it was all thrown together at the last minute.

Did they not know it was the ten year anniversary of 9-11 this year? It’s been on the calendar for a decade.

I understand the league not wanting to open pandora’s box with the clothing criteria. There are too many sleazy marketing “legends” throughout the game looking to cash in with the next goofy promotion. Rules are rules and if you continuously ignore it, than what’s the point of having it in the first place? Todd Zeile was surprised by the league’s decision, but admitted  it’s a “slippery slope” to Adam Rubin of ESPN NY.

What disappoints me is the league couldn’t seethe importance of this gesture to the fans.

They look tone deaf and cold. It’s not like they haven’t bent the rules before. Remember, this is a league that enjoys an anti-trust exemption from our government. They could basically do what they want, when they want; and they have at various points throughout their history.

A great night, but one that may be remembered for the league and team dropping the ball on a simple request. A request that appears mundane on the surface, but holds a special meaning for the most important stakeholder: the paying customers

By Mike Silva
Tuesday, 13 Sep 2011


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