The Truth? You Can't Handle The Truth

The honeymoon is apparently over. In less than a week, Mets' GM Jim Duquette has gone from a jovial Press Conference in the Florida sun introducing new closer Braden Looper, to being the victim of the Mets fans ire in the frozen tundra of New York's coldest winter weekend.

The very same fans who repeatedly called for the head of his predecessor for taking on long term guaranteed money contracts for players who were either aging or coming off injuries, are now turning on Duquette for refusing to do the same.

What did the Met's new GM do to deserve this hammering? He told the fans the truth. A truth they didn't want to hear. And when it turned out to be the truth, instead of appreciating the difference between the flash and style of the previous administration and the forthcoming honesty of the current one, the fans have decided they don't like this style either.

Last Tuesday, while the sun beat down on the little cluster of reporters standing outside the Mets' minor league clubhouse, Duquette laid out exactly what the deal was with Vladimir Guerrero. He acknowledged the Mets might make a short term offer to Guerrero. He said it was unlikely that Guerrero would accept it as Guerrero was looking for longer term guaranteed money. He said it was a long shot. He said the Mets were looking at a couple of possible trades for prospects to add to the competition for the open right field job. He said right now they had Cedeno, and Timo and Raul Gonzalez and that might be who they came into camp with.

That's exactly how it played out.

And to be fair, Mets' fans are as wary as a jilted lover. Let's face it, they've been left at the alter before. From A-Rod, to Juan Gonzalez to Guerrero, they've had their hopes raised, only to see them dashed on the rocks. It's been a tough couple of years to be a Mets' fan.

It may be that these bitter heartbreaks have the faithful unable to see the decent, honest man who now toils to rejuvenate their favorite franchise for what he is.

The fans don't want to hear that it might take a year or two to return to glory. They don't want to hear about keeping draft picks, or building through prospects and pitching and defense. They don't want to hear that the goal for 2004 is to be competitive and play meaningful games in the second half. So when Duquette repeatedly drives home those points, they fall upon deaf ears.

One point that Duquette stressed last week was that part of his formula was to only bring in players who wanted to be here. "It's something that is true of all three guys we've signed this off season, whether it's Matsui, Cameron, or Looper." said Mets' GM Jim Duquette, "They all want to be here."

The Mets have also repeatedly stated that they believe that the camaraderie of players who have gone through some wars together is a key element of a championship team, that cannot be manufactured through Rotisserie League team building.

They've said they've done the research and that players signed to long term deals generally don't perform up to expectations in the second half of the deal. That they will no longer sign players to contracts for more than three guaranteed years.

They believe they have a nucleus of young talent about to reach Shea Stadium that they refuse to trade, that they will build upon, and though they will continue to try and put the best possible team on the field for the present, that they will no longer be willing to sacrifice the future in an effort to do so.

And whether the fans like it or not, that's the truth. That's something that Mets' fans are so unused to hearing that they don't even recognize it for what it is. Fans say they are depressed. They feel played. They've lost hope. The Mets are cheap. The Wilpons have done it again.

When in reality, what you're getting now from the Wilpons on down, and particularly from Jim Duquette is a novelty in the sports and entertainment business. It's the truth. Can you handle it?

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