Friday, August 06, 2010

da Mets, oy!

The Mets are back under .500 & have yet to take an away series against a National League team.

We knew The Mets were playing over their heads when they ran off a remarkable May & June, at Citi Field & in interleague.  But we had reason to hope for interesting second half baseball.  If the pitching held up, & Beltran came back with some of his talent intact. There are a lot of better teams in the NL, four of them in the five team west division (actually, all five, even Ariz beats the Mets). But so far there's no Yankees or Tampa Bay in the NL. You could figure on Padres, Dodgers, Giants, & Rockies beating on each other.  Same with Reds & Cards. Braves & Phillies.  Any of the better teams in the NL could run off 8 game winning or losing streaks. If the Mets could stay about ten games over .500, they might well have lurked in wild card mix down to the wire. The one team wild card system isn't fair.  You win a division with a mediocre record, you still win it & grab a playoff spot, & some better teams play golf or go fishin'.  Difficult now to imagine Mets getting back to ten games over. Pelfry collapsed. The return of Beltran & Castillo rattled  players who justifiably felt they earned more playing time. Ollie Perez is wasting a roster spot. Jerry Manuel, a nice guy with a good baseball head, probably better qualified as a bench coach, didn't  handle  the change well, & maybe there was no way he could. The Mets are headcases outside of New York, as we saw on their dreadful west coast trip after the All Star break. For Jerry, disaster always "somewhat concerns him" or it's "a little embarrassing," or "it's something we have to deal with." His fondness for Gandhi is well known, but there are moments when he should let himself express his deeper anger. Even Joe Torre allows it of himself from time to time.  Joe also has a memorable hangdog appearance toward the end of poorly played losses, his face sagging with exhaustion & disappointment, his thin hair disheveled. His players take one look at him & know what Joe's feeling.

Then, two teams with with serious financial  problems, The Dodgers & the Rangers, managed to improve their teams with trades. The Mets management did nothing. Nothing! It's generally believed Bernie Madoff took the Wilpon family for a lot of money. But other teams made trades & were paid money to defray the costs, Even the Yanks managed it. The Mets needed to cut Ollie loose & eat the salary, & add a pitcher & batter off the bench, even if those acquisitions were risk players. They needed to say to the team & fans, "We're doing something. maybe it'll work & maybe not, but we're trying to hold the season together." Because, in the NL, you never know.  Crazy things happen.  Like when the Rockies caught fire after changing managers, or when the Mets blew a 7 game lead with 17 to play.  Taking chances can pay off in the NL. Doing nothing to improve a team midseason is taking a chance only if you're winning with what you got. The Mets were coming unglued.

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