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Tuesday, 03 October 2023 18:01

The Buck stops here...for the New York Mets

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Thankfully it’s over. And if I were Buck Showalter, I would want it to be over. Nobody REALLY wants to leave a managing job, or head coaching job. I know I didn’t…even when I thought it was no longer a workable situation for me. You always have that competitive spirit believing you can turn things around, that this is YOUR baby and you don’t want to let go. But sometimes it is best to move on.

I am, and always have been, a HUGE Buck Showalter fan. I rooted for every team he managed, even when he managed the Yankees. Unlike people who are a fan of the laundry (as per Jerry Seinfeld’s explanation of fans’ loyalties), I have always been a fan of the person. No different than me being a fan of Ken Singleton or Ken Griffey, Jr. or Thurman Munson.

I always wanted to see Buck as manager of the Mets. I thought he had the baseball sense, the baseball knowledge, and the personality to deal with young and veteran players alike, execute baseball strategy and instill fundamentals, and, most importantly, deal with the rigors and pressures of dealing with New York and everything that comes along with it.

The Mets winning 101 games in 2022 was both a blessing and a curse. It was enjoyable for what it was…a rarely achieved 100-win season, but it was a huge deception. The Mets were NOT that good. There were holes that were clearly covered up by Jeff McNeil having a career year and winning a batting title (I like McNeil but there is NO way he is a perennial challenger for the batting title); Brandon Nimmo having a brilliant season as the team’s leadoff batter (with little power and even less stolen base speed); Francisco Lindor having a phenomenal season both at the plate and in the field; Pete Alonso having another strong season; and Edwin Diaz having the kind of season that players can usually only dream of.

Reveling in all of that gave the hope that the organization had already gotten to the level of annual competitiveness and just needed to continue to add some veteran pieces to keep it all going. But we all quickly found out how wrong that thinking was.

If the Mets had won around 85 games, which most experts had predicted before the 2022 season began, this season would not seem so catastrophic. It would have been another gig of rebuilding an organization for Buck Showalter. Instead, the Mets WAY over-achieved in 2022 and Buck was rewarded, and rightfully so. But even HE had to know that that success would ultimately sabotage him. Buck is a great evaluator of talent. And he had to know that the bubble would burst at some point…that he was not going to battle with the best and most powerful arsenal.

I thought that when Steve Cohen took over the Mets organization, there would be more of a sense of professionalism and higher standards. There were some early bumps and bruises when he took over, specifically with the early hirings of GMs…Zack Scott and Jared Porter. And why bring in Buck Showalter knowing that you want to bring in another GM who will want to bring in his OWN manager making Buck an essential lame duck who was merely here as a placeholder? Doesn’t someone like Buck deserve more respect than that?

This is an organization that allowed Willie Randolph to fly all the way across the country only to fire him after he got there. Oh those Wilpons. But now it’s NOT the Wilpons. It’s Steve Cohen.

The new guy grew up a Mets fan. Just like Steve Cohen. The new guy got his start as a nobody with the Mets…with some menial job. Just like Steve Cohen got his start as a minority partner with no say. The new guy is hell bent on his own philosophy, one based wholly on analytics and without any baseball acumen. Steve Cohen gets his strategy from computer generated knowledge and charting the markets.

Billy Eppler has never had a winner as a GM – even with two huge superstars in Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. David Stearns has never had a winner – even with a roster that had Daniel Vogelbach and Omar Navaez (please…I am being sarcastic). But Steve Cohen now has the baseball leadership he wants in Stearns and Eppler and now THEY are going to choose the next manager…one who is “on the same page” as them.

And so the Buck stops here.

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Alan Karmin is an award-winning journalist and author. He was born in Brooklyn, New York and spent most of his life growing up in the New Jersey suburbs. Alan's family were avid Brooklyn Dodgers fans and when the Dodgers moved west, the Mets became the team to root for. The Mets have always been a true focal point, Alan even wrote a term paper in high school to analyze what was wrong with the Mets. While at the University of Miami, Alan honed his craft covering the, gulp, Yankees during spring trainings in Fort Lauderdale for a local NBC affiliate, as well as the Associated Press and UPI. He broadcasted baseball games for the University of Miami, and spring training games for the Baltimore Orioles and Montreal Expos. New York Mets Mania is a forum for Alan to write about his favorite team and for baseball fans to chime in and provide their thoughts and ideas about New York's Amazin' Mets.