Much is being made today about Mets 1B Carlos Delgado’s refusal to take a curtain call after the second of his two home runs off Atlanta Braves pitching during a 6-3 victory at Shea Sunday afternoon. In an era in which New York’s print media have been all-too quick to criticize Delgado’s black and Latino teammates for excessive celebrations, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman would have us believe it’s the paying customers who’ve made the working environment intolerable in Queens.
For better or for worse – and to talk to a Met anonymously is to know they only think the worse – the negativity emanating from the Shea stands is a real part of the games. Most days these players feel as if it is the Mets vs. both the Braves and their own fans.
Delgado insisted afterward this was no statement. But it was the strongest one yet to define this current reality: Met fans don’t like this team too much and the players don’t like the fans, either.
And as one player asked, “Do they think that is helping us?” In other words, it is hard to win, harder yet when you are playing either in anticipation of the boos or to try and ward them off. Both media and fans have become harsher over the years, but there is a quick, energy-sapping maliciousness at Shea that is hard to match anywhere.
When Carlos Beltran’s 2006 campaign began with frequent booing and a similar reluctance to take a curtain call, I suggested those fans who were most hostile in their treatment of the outfielder represented a loud minority, but a minority of Mets rooters just the same. I’m not sure where the sense of entitlement comes from — that the likes of Beltran, Delgado and Reyes are pilloried in their first at-bat sometimes, that the manager cannot show his face without hearing chants of “Fire Willie”, but I suspect astronomical ticket prices and a level of hysteria primed by chat radio goons (it was only a week ago that Chris Russo suggested Delgado be executed) are as much to blame as any lingering resentment over last September’s collapse.
If patrons can only afford to attend one or two Mets games a year, they’re gonna get their booing in as early as possible.