For years I suffered chronic back problems. The pain would come and go without warning, and would range from general stiffness to sciatic nerve pain and eventually a crippling lower back ailment that left me unable to sit or stand without severe discomfort.
As the pain ebbed and flowed I tried everything to remedy what ailed me: physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, steroid shots, disc decompression therapy and acupuncture. Finally, one Saturday I woke up and rolled over and it happened — the degenerative disc in my lower back ruptured.
The pain I felt shot into my lower back like a knife. I couldn’t move. I gripped sheets on the bed and winced in pain. Every breath I took was followed by a new, deeper pain. I gasped for air and prayed for mercy. I feared I was going to be crippled, maybe even paralyzed. After about 30 minutes the pain began to ease but I was terrified to move.
The Monday after that experience I visited a renowned back surgeon who confirmed the news: a complete disc rupture of disc L6 in my lower back. Surgery was scheduled later that week. Within 10 days I was back on my feet with no pain. In fact, I haven’t had any back pain in 13 years since the surgery.
The New York Mets suffer from a similar chronic ailment at the highest level of the franchise. Since the Wilpon family assumed majority ownership of the team in 2002, the on-the-field product has been a failure.
Since 2003, the first full season under the Wilpon ownership, the Mets have recorded a losing record 10 times (including eight times over the last 10 years). Since 2003, the Mets have made the World Series once (2015 vs. Royals) and three post-appearances (2006, 2015 and 2016). Since 2003, the Mets have a combined win-loss record of 1,264-1,317 (.489).
Quick translation: That’s not good.
This off-season the Mets are expected to hire a new general manager. Speculation of who and what that candidate might bring to the table is still up for debate, according to beat writers who cover the team.
But, in the end, does it really matter who gets the title “general manager?” Fred Wilpon owns the franchise and his son, Jeff, is pulling the strings. This isn’t just a bloggers guesswork, this is what Peter Gammons told us nine years ago.
Remember the ESPN radio interview when Gammons was peppered with questions about the Mets to which he replied:
Ask the general manager, Jeff Wilpon … Omar Minaya is not the general manager. Omar’s the one out there to take the heat.”
Nothing has changed — on or off the field. Fred Wilpon still owns the Mets; Jeff Wilpon is still the GM; and the team continues to lose.
The Mets will not solve their problems with a new general manager, field manager, pitching coach or hitting instructor. Changing personnel is like treating the symptom instead of the disease.
If the Mets really want to change direction that will start with changing ownership.