As a writer covering the team and a diehard fan, Howard Megdal was not pleased with how the New York Mets treated him. It was a one-sided relationship—he wasn’t getting nearly as much out of it as he was putting in. The turning point for Megdal was the birth of his daughter. It was one thing for him, his parents, his wife, and his friends to suffer; it as another to have his first born subjected to the torments of being a Mets fan.
What did Megdal do? He ran for general manager of the team, a position occupied at the time by Omar Minaya. Spoiler alert: Megdal did not get the job. He did, however, write a book about his campaign, published last month: Taking the Field: A Fan’s Quest to Run the Team He Loves (Bloomsbury, $25).
Of course, the front office jobs of major league baseball teams are not determined via public elections. And while it’s not certain whether Megdal actually believed he could snag the job—he was in contact with a high-ranking Mets official who informed him the Mets’ owners were aware of his campaign, which included “primaries” on various Mets blogs—you start to believe in his candidacy, built on logic, transparency, and passion.
At the beginning of Megdal’s campaign, in June of 2010, the Mets were on a surprising win streak. Not surprising was that this hurt Megdal’s cause—fans felt the team was doing just fine under its current management.* What separates Megdal from the masses is that he realizes it’s not about winning today, or even taking a few series in a row. It’s about sustainability.
*I’ve noticed on the popular MetsBlog.com, where periodic polls are conducted to determine whether or not fans feel the team is “headed in the right direction,” that the results are almost always based on how the team is currently doing. Seriously, the poll has to be affected at least 10 points based on whether the previous night’s game was a win or loss.
Megdal outlines how he’ll maximize the organization’s potential by placing an emphasis on the draft and the farm system and avoiding multi-year contracts to free agents in their twilight years (a staple of the Steve Phillips era, as Megdal skillfully highlights).