The blockbuster trade in major league baseball this past weekend reverberated throughout the entire sport. The Red Sox shipped Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Adrian Gonzalez to the Los Angeles Dodgers for James Loney, Ivan De Jesus, Jerry Sands, and their two top pitching prospects, Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa. The swap appeared to be a win-win for both L.A. and Boston, but it also impacted both Yankee and Met fans.
For the first time in about 15 years the Red Sox have surrendered to the Yankees. Since the late 90's, both teams engaged in big market spending, trying to one up each other in their quest for a World Series. The rivalry peaked in 2003 and 2004 when they met in back-to-back American League Championship Series. Since then, the Red Sox won another title in 2007 and the Yankees won in 2009.
The 2012 season has given us a different flavor. The Yankees are attempting to hold off the Orioles and Rays in the A.L. East, while Boston flounders at the bottom of the division. The Red Sox have apparently realized how good their division is and decided their current roster of players isn't capable of reaching the top. As a result, Boston management blew the whole thing up, in an attempt to get younger and quickly rebuild; or as I'm sure ownership is selling it, "reverse course."
Yankees fans are certainly smiling as their biggest rival admits defeat. However, Boston dumped $260 million in salary and didn't pick up any of the tab, while still netting the Dodgers top two pitching prospects. In the Red Sox' perfect world, they can now spend to revamp the lineup, build around young pitching, and compete for a World Series by 2014 with a younger core.
As for Mets fans, it's a sad week. Less than a year ago the Mets and Dodgers were considered the black holes in baseball; two teams in the country's biggest markets with embarrassing ownership and no real direction. Since then, the Dodgers have been sold to the Magic Johnson group, gotten into playoff contention, acquired All-Stars mid-season, and re-established themselves as the premier franchise in Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, Mets fans continue to be fed the same old family-run team line with promises that the team will get to the postseason "sometime soon."
The Mets ownership recently announced that the team's payroll (14th in MLB) isn't expected to increase next season. Meanwhile, the Dodgers added a quarter of a billion dollars in salaries this past weekend. It's a kick in the gut for a New York fan base that still pays above average ticket prices for a below average team. Mets fans see the recent Dodger moves and may think "If our owners unloaded their team, maybe that could be us."
Mets fans know all too well that money doesn't buy wins. But one would have a hard time selling NY fans on the idea that the Dodger formula is any worse than the Mets current plan of mediocrity. I believe fans trust Sandy Alderson, but they don't trust the Wilpons. And unfortunately, the Wilpons have shown they will make the final call.
While this blockbuster trade pains Mets fans, it temporarily eases the minds of Yankee fans. Time will tell how this deal plays out for Boston and Los Angeles. But, as a Met fan who got a glimpse of winning during the first half of the season, I can't wait for the Wilpons to let another owner open his wallet.
Pete is a lifelong Montauk resident and former sports talk host at 88.7FM WEER. He can be reached via email at Peterfmundo@gmail.com.