It is often said that, in Chinese, the word for crisis is the same as the word for opportunity.
Probably a long shot, but someone's got to get through to the Wilpons so they realize that something is very rotten in the state of Denmark and that there's a way to start building something better. There is nothing good about what happened with Francisco Rodriguez on Wednesday night but that doesn't mean that it can't be used as a springboard toward a better tomorrow.
The problem is that the owners don't seem to have the self-awareness to realize that for themselves.
"Ownership and the organization are very disappointed in Francisco’s inappropriate behavior and we take the matter very seriously."
That was the statement released by the Mets on Thursday. You can understand the restraint as things still play out, you can even understand the complete lack of passion in the face of such an embarrassing situation but what you can't do is believe that they will take the matter very seriously.
That's because the Mets haven't taken things very seriously for years now. Players are allowed to exhibit zero impulse control with no reaction from management until they assault family members in the moments following a game. Mediocre outfielders are allowed to pop off about playing time with no response, awful pitchers are allowed to keep their jobs after refusing minor league assignments and fans are allowed to stay away from Citi Field in droves with no response from the powers that be to make them want to come back.
The only time the Mets actually responded to a problem in the last few years was during the summer of 2009 when they fired front office exec Tony Bernazard after a series of bizarre, hostile activities. Most teams would have fired the offending person with little fanfare, merely admitted that he was wrong and that a change had to be made. Omar Minaya's press conference wound up being a defensive affair, however, and took a turn into the surreal when he began a diatribe against a sportswriter instead of merely dispatching Bernazard and getting on with business.
There was absolutely no reaction from his bosses. No sense that anyone with the Mets thought that this was an inappropriate response and no sense that they were concerned about the message that it sends to your customers and to the world at large. Nothing but a shrug of the shoulders and a calm acceptance that the Mets were a circus act to be mocked and pitied.
Jeff Wilpon took over the reins from his father some time ago but he's remained a cipher. Change that. Change it right now and change it for good. Make K-Rod's assault the straw that breaks the camel's back. Stand up and say that what happened on Wednesday night isn't acceptable, of course, but go further. Say that from top to bottom, the current state of the franchise isn't acceptable. Say that you're tired of being treated like a punchline. Say you're embarrassed and ashamed about what has happened over the last four years and say that you're going to change it.
And then don't say another thing at all. Start doing. Start putting people into places where they can effect changes that make the organization better and start getting rid of all the people who are standing in the way of making that happen. Things might not get better overnight. They may even get a little bit worse as you take a step backward to move forward but that's okay as long as people believe you're actually engaged and actually care about what happens next.
In short, make it so that crisis and opportunity are the same word in English.