May 06, 2009

Lamenting the Metsies

Perhaps this is not the appropriate forum, but I need to release some frustration regarding the Mets. In general, being a Mets fan is more of a curse than a blessing. Although great teams and great characters occasionally surface in Flushing, the franchise is better known for annually assembling motley casts of unlovable losers. Whether it's off-field incidents such as Vince Coleman throwing a lit firecracker at fans or Bret Saberhagen spraying Shea Stadium patrons with a water gun full of bleach, or on-field incidents like the Mets' collapses in 2007 and 2008, player-fan relations are not always rosy. As such, many Mets fans, myself included, have a deep sense of mistrust and, at times, an outright dislike, for the team.

In April and early May of 2009, the Amazins have done nothing to assuage their fans' fears that this year's team will be nothing more than a cheap imitation of the 2007 and 2008 outfits. While Citi Field is shiny and new, the effort of the players and the quality of play, like Shea Stadium, is rank. After collapsing in September for two consecutive years, one might think that the team would be amply motivated to atone for prior mistakes. Instead, the same apathy that has pervaded the previous years' Mets teams has resurfaced this year. To wit, in one month of play, the following gaffes have already occurred:

- Carlos Beltran failing to slide on a close play. Twice. In the same week.
- Daniel Murphy misplaying several routine fly balls, thereby leading to close defeats. Errors occur, but Murphy has failed to deliver on his promise to use two hands to catch the ball, thus making his mistakes difficult to forgive.
- David Wright posing at home plate to admire a homerun that barely cleared the wall against the Padres.
- Gary Sheffield similarly posing on all deep fly balls.
- A consistent refusal to run hard from the batters box by Carlos Delgado, Ramon Castro and others.

If there was any hope that the Mets possess the mental makeup to compete for the pennant this year, it was removed this week with ownership's decision to remove all New York newspapers from the clubhouse. Evidently, the players are too emotionally fragile to deal with criticism from those meanies over at the Post and Daily News. Needless to say, this doesn't exactly portend success in high pressure September games, assuming the Mets can stay in contention.

Leaving aside a defective starting rotation and the fact that Jerry Manuel seems to be morphing gradually into Willie Randolph, the Mets simply lack the desire to win. I realize that the players are making a lot of guaranteed money, but is it too much to ask for a consistent effort each night? Is it too hard to run hard on the four or five balls hit in play per game? Is it too hard to use two hands in the field or, for Delgado, to reach down on groundballs? For these Mets, the answer is "yes."


Doug said...

The Mets truly are an enigma. On paper, I think they are the best team in the National League. They have the best pitcher in the game, some studs in the bullpen with defined roles, and a balanced and deep lineup. Between Beltran, Wright, Reyes, and Delgado, they have four bonafide studs in that lineup. On paper, their lineup stacks up with the Phils and the Cubs and the Dodgers and certainly exceeds anything that the Cardinals are trotting out there (unless you consider Bert Pujols as TWO HITTERS which is somewhat legitimate).

Even their rotation SHOULD be good. Santana, Maine, Pelphrey, Oliver Perez. That should be strong.

And yet they just putz around. The Mets are wasting the primes of Wright and Reyes and Santana.

I think the Mets need to go out and get a legitimate manager. A Tony LaRussa/Lou Piniella type. I was never a big "manager" guy, but these really good ones do seem to make a difference. It doesn't matter who is on St. Louis. LaRussa is winning. Same with Piniella.

If I was the Mets, I'd be going HARD after Tony LaRussa. LaRussa has to feel underappreciated in St. Louis for all he has done there with relatively little help from the front office.

Mike said...

I also think that Tony LaRussa would be a great fit, but I don't know whether he's interested in dealing with the pressures of New York at this stage of his career.

Although I have always disliked the Braves intensely, I admire Bobby Cox. For many years, I always felt that the Braves got every lucky bounce and break against the Mets, which used to drive me crazy. As I got older and started paying closer attention, however, I realized that it wasn't luck at all. Rather, the Braves made the important plays because Cox is a terrific manager who positions his defensive players perfectly and effectively teaches the fundamentals to his guys.

I was angry when the Mets jettisoned Bobby Valentine and I wish they would invite him back. Sure, he can be cocky and his antics can be somewhat off-putting, but he's an excellent leader who can draw a strong effort from his players. In addition, Valentine manages the bullpen well and he generally makes prudent strategic decisions.