Like many of you, I have been hopelessly addicted to the PBS drama Downton Abbey, whose second season just concluded last night.
As with most things, I have come to think of the show through a New York Mets prism. More specifically, the characters in Downton Abbey- flawed, of course, but so resonant- seem like solid fits to take a number of positions with the New York Mets. Below is a comparison, and where the Mets can be upgraded simply by the integration of anachronistic fictional creations. Make it happen, Mets!
Owner: Lord Grantham vs. Fred Wilpon
Both have their problems, to be sure. Wilpon trusted the family fortune to Bernie Madoff; Lord Grantham continues to trust Thomas the Footman. But while Madoff is part of a pattern of those who Wilpon kept around- Charlie Samuels, Omar Minaya and others come to mind- Grantham has made solid decisions on his people, keeping Mr. Carson the Butler in charge of the staff, issuing a vote of confidence in Mr. Bates, and even rededicating himself to Cora and his marriage. Grantham wisely even mentions the need to protect the fortune when Lady Rosamund intends to marry a fortune hunter. He takes the present and future of Downton seriously, putting it above his own self-interest. He’d make a fine owner.
General Manager: Carson the Butler vs. Sandy Alderson
The two of them have faced eerily similar tasks. Alderson, a keen baseball mind, has been forced to do more with less, thanks to the team’s financial problems. Carson, meanwhile, muddled through a similar period of austerity at the Downton household, thanks to the rationing and draft brought about by World War I. If you think it will be difficult watching Ronny Cedeno hit this year, just remember that dinner party where Lang- LANG!- had to serve. Neither appearance brings about much pleasure for those who experience it.
Ultimately, Mr. Carson never allowed Downton Abbey to fail in its role as a destination of luxury, and the stream of guests hardly subsided despite the war. A close look at Met attendance figures would suggest that so far, Alderson has not had the same kind of success.
Training Staff: Lady Sybil, Isabel Crawley and Dr. Clarkson vs. The Hospital for Special Surgery
There’s no doubt about it: Downton Abbey’s turn as a World War I convalescent home was the only reasonable point of historical reference for the 2009 Mets. Seeing so many injured, often critically, it was impossible not to think of Jonathan Niese falling off the mound in pain. Such is war and warmups.
Without training, Lady Sybil did much to lift the spirits of the soldiers, and one simply didn’t see the kind of misdiagnoses that resulted in soldiers listed as day-to-day, yet hanging around Downton long after the war ended. Everyone healed and went home. Meanwhile, Carlos Delgado is still feeling pain in his hip, Ike Davis has yet to play in a game since last May, and Johan Santana is only now throwing off flat ground.
The major misdiagnosis from Dr. Clarkson was that Matthew Crawley would never walk again, and then he did. Oh, what we’d all give for that kind of mistake by the Met doctors!