Spring is already here, but for some New York baseball fans there's a dark storm cloud looming — at least when it comes to the team in Queens.
As the Mets and Yankees open their seasons this week, many die-hard and oft-disappointed Mets fans wonder how the team can escape its many troubles, including a $1 billion lawsuit from its Bernie Madoff involvement and plummeting ticket sales.
"There's not a lot of fan interest in the club right now, and there's no anticipation that they're going to be competitive this year," said Maury Brown, president of Business of Sports Network, which includes bizofbaseball.com.
"It doesn't look like it's gonna be a good year for the Mets, in the standings or the bottom line," Brown said.
Troy William, 45, a long-time Mets fan from Sunnyside, agreed.
"Even if they make the playoffs, all the controversy and problems will always overshadow whatever they do," William said.
And Adam Garnett of risingapple.com said that while it's unfair to tie players' performance to the team's off-the-field issues, "it's gonna be easy for fans to do that."
"It's not fair to the players, but what can you do," he said. "The owners got themselves into this mess, so they're gonna have to deal with all the negative press that comes with it."
Still, Eno Sarris of Mets blog amazinavenue.com doesn't think the team's off-the-field troubles — including a search for a minority share buyer to help bail it out — will affect the players.
"It's no crazier than answering a question about your closer punching his father-in-law in the face," said Sarris, referring to Franciso Rodriguez’s troubles last year. "They're used to this media scrutiny."
The Yankees are a different story. After a disappointing loss to Texas in the playoffs, they missed out on some big players in the off-season (such as pitcher Cliff Lee) but avoided big controversy, aside from the public spat over Derek Jeter’s contract. And as with every year, expectations are sky-high.
"In the field, the team looks pretty much the same as last year, and that was a very good team," said Ben Kabak of Yankees blog riveraveblues.com.
Still, stars like Jeter, 36, and Alex Rodriguez, 35, are getting older, and some fans worry about their declining numbers.
"They should've used the off-season to snatch up some younger, up-and-coming players," said Yankees fan Darryl Brown, 47, Bronx. "They need some young blood on the team."
Kinda Styles, 43, of Jersey City, agreed.
"These are getting old now, and they should start thinking about newer, younger guys," she said.
"It's time for them to take a break," she said.
The Yanks open their season at home against Detroit on Thursday, while the Mets open their season in Florida on Friday.