Friday, September 16, 2022

Alderson On What He Achieved: "I believe that the image of the Mets is different today"

The unveiling of the Tom Seaver statue outside Citi Field on Opening Day started off the 2022 season on the right foot. Photo by Jason Schott.


On Thursday night, the Mets announced that Sandy Alderson will "step down as President at the conclusion of a search for his successor," and that he will then transition into his new role as a special advisor to owners Steve and Alex Cohen and the senior leadership team.

Alderson was the Mets General Manager from 2011 to 2018, shepherding the ballclub out of the financial trouble that owner Fred Wilpon had after he was embroiled in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. Alderson put together a team that made it to the 2015 World Series, but within three years, they were back in the doldrums, and he was replaced by Brodie Van Wagenen.

When Steve Cohen purchased the Mets ahead of the 2021 season, he brought Alderson back as team President. After a rough first season with Cohen at the helm, this year has seen the team thrive with a new General Manager in Billy Eppler, and the hiring of Buck Showalter as Manager, as they have won 91 games through Friday and have been in first place in the National League East for most of the season. The Mets also embraced their history this season, as the team unveiled the Tom Seaver statue outside Citi Field on Opening Day, retired Keith Hernandez's number 17 on July 9, and held a very emotional Old Timers' Day on August 27 that brought back many Mets legends who had not been around for years. That day has even more poignancy with the news that John Stearns, a Mets catcher in from 1975-84, passed away on Thursday night, after a long battle with cancer, just three weeks after he willed himself to Old Timers Day, and was in uniform.

On Friday afternoon, Alderson met with the media about the announcement. The first quesion he was asked was what he felt has been achieved in the past two years, and he said, “I think that, what I hoped we’d accomplish as an organization is a transformation, if you will, of a perception of the Mets as we go forward under what was then new ownership, and I think that has largely been accomplished - doesn’t mean it will be sustained, but I believe that the image of the Mets is different today than it was roughly two years ago.

“I think we’re all very proud of that, but the challenge is to continue that direction and sustain it over a period of time, and I’m confident that will happen. We’ve got a great leadership team here, very happy with the way the organization has responded this year, both on the field, off the field, in terms of creativity, in terms of execution, in terms of our internal culture, which I think is reflected externally in a lot of the things that we do. 

“So, from those standpoints, we’ve made strides as an organization, and I’m really confident that the organization will continue in that vein.”

Alderson then said "we'll see" when asked what his role advising Steve and Alex Cohen will be like before he added, "The statement was issued in part because I think the rumor mill was catching up with events, so there were a lot of things to be discussed, but I expect that will all be fleshed out over the next couple of months. You know, being an advisor's kind of a tricky thing, and I want to be helpful. I don't want to detract from what the organization as a whole is doing, but I think I can be helpful, and so I'm looking forward to that possibility."

On what he envisions the role of the next team president going forward, Alderson said, "I don't know, I think that, you know, in large part, Steve will determine that, and to some extent, I think it's a function of the qualities that any individual candidate brings. You know, I don't know that you can mold a person to the job, I think you have to, in some ways, shape the job to fit the qualities, experience, expertise of candidates. It's not all about professional expertise, it's also personal qualities, and in terms of leadership, I've always felt that those are far more important, so I think that, in terms of the job description, that will be determined, to a large extent, based on the successful candidate, and that candidate will be successful for reasons that go way beyond the job description."

Alderson then was asked how involved he was in baseball operations this season, after the hiring of General Manager Billy Eppler, and he said, "I would say very much removed, you know, by design, by preference. There was a lot going on on the business side, and you know, I was, and I think Steve was confident in what Billy was doing, so I tried, it's difficult to provide any real insight unless you're in the weeds with everyone else. I've been careful not to go beyond what my sense of, you know, my knowledge, current knowledge, has been."

On what he's happiest about what has been achieved on the business side, Alderson said, "I mentioned it at the outset, that we have, through Steve's direction and guidance, embraced a lot of traditional elements, such as Old Timers' Day, such as retiring numbers, but done it in a way that has been creative, a sense that there have been added dimensions, but also well-executed, and there's a lot to be said for execution. I mean, I've said before, maybe not to this group, but you know, the difference between good teams and bad teams is not always ideas or information, it's execution. I think that I've really been proud of the organization, from those who've really been creative in nature and, you know, think about these things in those terms, but also our rank-and-file who have executed, I think, exceptionally well over the course of the year. It's easy to screw up, especially with all of you and others, you know, constantly observing (in reference to the media), and I've just been happy because I think that's, you know, it's not just ideas, it's execution, that's what creates a perception of professionalism. 

"I think we've sort of limited the forced errors this year, and I think that's a function of a better organization, better leadership, and attention to detail that I think has become more of a cornerstone of this organization than it was in the past."

On if he could envision another role in baseball after his time with the Mets, Alderson said, "My time is running short a little professionally, so you know, by making a commitment to Steve post-presidency, if you will, I think that is pretty strong evidence that my commitment to the Mets as well as, you know, my sense that, look, family's important, lots of other things, you know, I haven't been on a summer vacation in 40 years, so the fact that I'd never been to Yosemite and lived in California for 25 years, it's somewhat telling, not that I have this strong desire to go to Yosemite (he laughed) or Lake Tahoe, or the Catskills for that matter, anyway, I'm looking for a little different cadence, I guess is the right word...

"Right now, I don't look back. That statement yesterday was not about closure as of September 15th, we've got a lot going on between now and the middle of November, hopefully, and you know, I've been in this position before, I left the Padres when the team was sold, etcetera. My goal is to power through whatever length of time my tenure is. You know, it could be six weeks, it could be six months, I don't know. My goal is to try and keep powering through because, ultimately, last impressions are important and, you know, my responsibility's my responsibility - it didn't end yesterday."

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