The circus of the damned continues in Flushing, Queens, but it will go on without deposed hitting coach Dave Hudgens and ex-closer Jose Valverde, who were both dismissed after a disheartening Memorial Day loss.
On his way out, Hudgens blamed the relatively small number of fans who still come to the games for the Mets’ struggles at home.
“I think the fans are really tough on the guys at home. How can you boo Curtis Granderson? They have no idea how hard this guy works and how he goes about doing his business, doing his job. He gets off to a slow start and they’re booing him? Come on,” Hudgens told MLB.com “It’s tougher at home to play than it is on the road, there’s no doubt about it. And they’re trying really hard at home.”
I don’t advocate booing your own players unless they show a clear lack of effort or otherwise disrespect the fans, but Hudgens sounds clueless. How can you boo Curtis Granderson? Well, he made an awful first impression. In 25 games in April, Granderson had a .136 / .252 / .216 slash line with one home run and seven RBI. And you can’t expect fans to look at his track record without remembering that Granderson used to be a New York Yankee and played a lot better for the Mets’ crosstown neighbors.
It’s wonderful that the Mets players are “trying really hard” at home, but in the real world, effort is only rewarded in relation to the tangible results that are produced by it. The results in May have not been pretty: 17 losses and just 7 wins.
Hopefully Lamar Johnson can get better results from the Mets’ lineup. If he does, it’s a clear indictment of Hudgens since Johnson will be presenting the same hitting philosophy to the same “students” that Hudgens had. If he does not, then it’s a reflection on Sandy Alderson’s roster construction and the organizational hitting philosophy.
And while some fans may be overly hostile towards Mets players who under-perform, the organization is even more hostile towards its remaining fans.
As an example: Sunday was Banner Day, a tradition dating back to the early days in franchise history where fans produce banners and march around the warning track to express positive feelings about the team. Originally, the Banner Day parade was held between games of a scheduled doubleheader so their would be people in the stands to appreciate the efforts of the banner makers.
With Friday’s rain out turning Sunday’s single game into a doubleheader, the Mets could have gone back to that tradition. Instead, they opted to start the Banner Day parade at 11:30 a.m. when the ballpark was virtually empty. And the ushers were making sure that the few hundred people who were inside Citi Field at the time couldn’t go anywhere near the field unless they had tickets for that section.
In previous years, Mets players would bring out a banner on behalf of the team that saluted the fans. No such gesture this time – I guess it was deemed another distraction. (Though maybe the players want new fans as badly as we want new players.)
(A few of my favorite banners from 2014 are pictured below.)