The past couple months have been truly brutal for diehard Mets fans.
This latest second half collapse is nothing new, but it stings us all the same. In fact, probably moreso. Because, by overachieving, by so exceeding expectations in the first half — highlighted by Johan Santana‘s glorious 8-0 no-hitter, at home, on June 1 — the 2012 Mets stunning crash and burn since the break is all the more frustrating, perplexing, infuriating.
Just when there were signs everywhere that the new regime — finally, our team was being run by adults — had transcended the stumbling, bumbling missteps of the Minaya-Randolph / Minaya-Manuel Mets, the fresh, new, almost-entirely-homegrown (remember THAT?) up-and-coming Mets fell into the same canyon of despair as all their recent predecessors. Meanwhile, our new “adult” TeamMBA front office has appeared to just stand there, mouthing platitudes, but doing essentially nothing to stop the slide.
Sure, there were also signs that the first half was a mirage, a statistical aberration. Most of the reasons the Mets were winning (MLB-leading RISP, 2-out hits, 2-out runs scored, etc) were unsustainable.
But the staggeringly bad bullpen also cost, conservatively, 10-15 wins. It could be argued successfully that with a merely league-average pen, the Mets would have been 15-20 games over .500 and leading the NL East by 8-10 games at the break. Annoyingly, the current FIRST PLACE Baltimore Orioles come to mind — why not the Mets?
We’ve all launched our share of rants aimed at the goat du jour — the left fielder, the catcher, the poison pen, yes, even the Face of the Franchise. Our personal favorites and our whipping boys alike have delivered deeply disappointing seasons, with few exceptions.
David Wright has completely disappeared in the second half of several seasons now. It’s almost midnight on the first half of David’s career and it’s completely fair to ask if he’s the guy I defended in mid-July as an essential cornerstone of the Mets rebuilding, or if he’s only a Met for life if he’s willing to be paid as a complementary player.
Indeed, R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, Matt Harvey, Ruben Tejada, Daniel Murphy, Scott Hairston and Ronnie Cedeno are probably the only non-disappointments this year. If I’ve unfairly left anyone out, please remind me in the comments, because I can use a little cheering up. Almost everyone else, including several players expected to form the “core” of the new Mets, have come up seriously short this season — casting doubt over the current rebuild-in-progress and suggesting that nothing but an all-out shakeup will return this franchise to contention.
Recently, the crosshairs are rightly trained on the manager for his inability to break the pattern of habitual collapse in crunch time, despite his obvious commitment to his work and to his players.
It’s not, “Terry Collins MUST go!” It’s more like, “Terry must go, so that there’ll be no more scapegoats to shield the real culprits from public scorn.”
No matter how strong the young (and old) arms prove to be next year, if Saint Wally Backman can’t win with this utterly inept offense, then who’s to blame? Wally? Great, fire Wally in 2014. Then what? Does Sandy Alderson fire himself too? Because, only THEN will the Wilpies be out of fall guys.
Finally, the GM himself is taking shrapnel for assembling this deeply flawed roster last winter — especially the offense — which many of us suspected was as paper thin as it’s proven to be, and for failing to obtain (or at least appear to be TRYING to obtain) credible reinforcements this summer.
Teams like Oakland, Tampa Bay, San Diego and, yes, even tonight’s gracious hosts, Milwaukee, have managed to do far more with far less money than the post-Madoff Mets. It’s time to start asking why Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill can turn into enough talent to rejuvenate a small-market team, but hanging onto Jose Reyes long enough to win a batting title, then walk away for nothing, is a turnaround strategy.
HOWEVER, at the end of the day, none of us knows exactly how handcuffed, hamstrung and hogtied the GM really is.
The deeper the Mets plunge into irrelevancy and punchline status, the more we have to ask if the “nattering nabobs of negativity” we left behind — those who repeated the same anti-ownership screeds, hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month, drowning out all reasonable discourse — are nevertheless correct in their sentiments (as annoying as their methods were and still are).
But, unfortunately, we’re stuck with these reprehensible real estate developers for our foreseeable lifetimes (and those of their heirs). Unless ….
On one hand, we can surmise that the new investor money the Wilpons raised simply went to cover past losses and overdue loan payments. We can hope that the true 2013 debt service bomb (plus their new 2012 losses) are so incalculably massive that no refinancing will be enough to let them squeak by again. That’s the only financial force that can push them out. On the other hand, we must also hope that the banks do not open up vast new credit lines to the Wilpons, based on a upward reappraisal of the Mets/SNY assets in light of the ridiculous premium paid this year for the Dodgers.
It’s too early to know if this is a legitimate time bomb for the Wilpons and legitimate grounds for Mets fans to finally be granted a divorce from these parasites — but it’s something.
What we DO know is that RSN (Real Soon Now), the Wilpons’ dear friend, Bud Selig, will have more egg on his face — in front of a national audience.
Uncle Bud’s tenure as Commish is winding down. He hated McCourt who used the LA franchise as a personal ATM machine, so he didn’t hesitate to seize control to put the Dodgers back on firm financial ground — a huge feather his his cap. But, the Mets ruination may be the tipping point to the downside in his already dubious legacy.
His faithful buddies in Flushing have been allowed to devalue the NL’s biggest market franchise for over five years running (or twenty-five, if you want to get technical). So, right on cue, next summer, they’re finally rewarded for their commendable stewardship with the long-cherished opportunity to host the Mid-Summer Classic — in a mausoleum. Bud will give away 30,000 tix to make sure the place is full, but the die will be cast for a national humiliation if his hand-picked turnaround specialist can’t turn this mess around this winter, and fast.
This winter may well decide the Mets very ownership, something Bud wants dearly to avoid, if at all possible. But he won’t go out with the franchise in a financial shambles, long after the Madoff excuse has expired.
So, with that as our backdrop, who wants to be first to set the over-under on Mets off-season trades and signings?
- David Wright says there’s nothing new with contract talks (newsday.com)
- DeathSpiral: Jason Fry on the Mets’ 2nd half collapse & future prospects (faithandfearinflushing.com)
- Trade Wright and Dickey? That’s what Mets need to do to build winner (nypost.com)
- GAME 143: NATS @ METS – Dickey Not Perfect, So It’s a Loss. OK, Matt Harvey, Your Turn! (metcave.wordpress.com)