Mike's Mets

Friday, September 30, 2005


Mets 11 - Rockies 0

I remember watching Glavine struggle early in the year and wondering if he was really done. It wasn't just that he was giving up tons of hits and runs every time out, it was the fact that every hitter was just sitting on the outside pitches and serving them to the opposite field. Glavine was unwilling and unable to come inside, which for all intents and purposes made a pitch on the outside corner the equivalent of a pitch down the middle.

Game after game went by with the same thing happening, and it got to the point where I stopped watching Glavine's starts -- they were as painful as a root canal. But to his credit, he made adjustments and changed his pitching style -- not an easy thing to do for a guy who broke into the league when I still had a full head of dark hair. He began to throw some curveballs, come inside more, and the results were a Tom Glavine that actually was fun to watch the second half of the season.

The kids are alright...

David Wright hits two home runs last night and reaches 100 RBIs in his first full season in the majors. Watching him develop over the course of this season, I found that I had to constantly remind myself that he's still a kid. I remember when Strawberry first came up, and how exciting it was to see a real home-grown budding star. For all of his obvious talent, there were many times that Daryl's immaturities showed. With Wright, though he's had ups and downs, especially in the field, you see a guy that's stronger and more advanced mentally. He'll need that, because it's not easy to be a 22-year old superstar in New York.

We all agree that Jose Reyes has had his ups and downs this year, but do we really stop to appreciate it that after 2 years of injuries and listening to Mike and the Mad Dog snicker about this kid's misfortunes, he has played in 158 games this season without a serious injury? We'd like to see him grow and develop more discipline; the only way he's going to do that is by staying on the field. Bravo to you, kid.

And finally, Jacobs goes 3 for 4 with a walk and a home run in last night's game. The more I see this kid the more I like him. He strikes out too much, but he has some patience and will take a walk. He goes to the opposite field. On the FAN last night, Omar Minaya made a good point that although he has a long swing it stays through the zone for a long time. I just like this kid -- I'm not going crazy and calling him a sure-thing superstar, but I really think he can help us. He's more than just a September wonder.

Thursday, September 29, 2005


Phillies 16 - Mets 6

I guess if you're going to end a nice winning streak you might as well do it in style. I watched this game off and on for most of the night, though normally I would have given up on it fairly early. As the season winds down it gets harder for me not to watch even the worst of games. Besides, it was good to see Heath Bell Pitching again, even if it wasn't a game he'd choose to remember.

I'm not all that broken-hearted that we lost this game, though it might have been fun to sweep. I'll be curious to watch and see what happens in these next four games. I don't really care much what place we finish in -- I would like to see the team finish up strong, maybe 3 of 4. They've done a decent job of keeping the season from really going down the toilet after falling out of the race, just bring it home now.

I wish that Steve Trachsel could have had a better finish to this season, especially since there's a chance this might have been his last as a Met. I like Trachsel, but to all of those that felt that the season depended on Trax starting games over Zambrano, lets go over his five starts since taking Victor's spot on September 5:

7.1 IP, 4R, 4ER, 7H, 2BB, 2HR -- Loss to Atlanta
5.0 IP, 4R, 4ER, 4H, 1BB, 2HR -- loss to St. Louis
6.0 IP, 5R, 2ER, 9H, 3BB, 1 HR -- Loss to Atlanta
6.0 IP, 0R, 0ER, 5H, 1 BB, 0HR -- ND to Washington
4.2 IP, 7R, 7ER, 10H, 3BB, 1 HR -- Loss to Philadelphia

Some people got mad at me when I said that I thought Trachsel and Zambrano are practically the same guy. Trachsel has better control and is more consistent, Zambrano has better stuff. Both can be great when they're on, excruciating to watch when they are not. I agreed with the move for Trachsel to start over Zambrano, but only because I thought Zambrano could give them something out of the pen and Trax was more experienced and consistent. And I like Trachsel and respect his performance for some bad Met teams.

For all of that, if you have a chance to deal Trachsel for some real bullpen help in the off-season, I say go for it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Spoiling Is For Losers?

Mets 3 - Phillies 2

Although I agree with the quote from Willie Randolph that is the headline for this post, I still enjoyed these last two games. I enjoyed watching Met-killers Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell come up short in key situations. Still, there is a limit to the amount of enjoyment I can receive from watching the Phillies' playoff hopes wither and die -- after all, our hopes have been on life support for weeks.

What I enjoyed more was the fact that Willie has kept the Mets playing hard even after it was over for them, and to me he gets some major points for this accomplishment. I don't know how things are going to play out over these final five games, but I have a much better feeling about this team right now. I truly feared this team would quit on the season after that disastrous stretch in early September, the simple fact that they didn't is a significant turn-around.

Still, one thing that I have to disagree with is the tendency of some fans, now that the Mets have closed somewhat in the standings, to point to some of the more painful losses of this season and play the "what if" game. The season is ALWAYS going to turn on a relatively small number of games, after more than 3-1/2 decades of watching this game I have certainly learned that simple truth. For all that, though, it was a lack of talent in some important areas, an inability to get runners home in key situations, and Carlos Beltran's season long struggle that sank us this year.

Also there were times this year, especially on the sad road trip that buried us, where the team just looked like it was trying too hard. Learning how to play with a relaxed intensity, in which you can put forth maximum effort without tying yourself up in knots, is a process. It tripped us up this year, but I believe our young core of players will learn from this season's struggles.

Just say no to Ugueth Urbina...

I never wanted the guy this year, and I'm not really interested in him as a free agent this winter. I know he has had some strong outings for the Phillies since they acquired him, but to me he is just a somewhat more proficient Braden Looper. He's blown 6 save opportunities since coming over to the Phillies and walks too many guys for a closer or even an eighth inning guy. In 52 games for Philadelphia he has a 4.38 ERA in 49.1 innings, with 23 walks and 8 HRs given up. We don't need another guy like this.

The problem for teams like the Mets that are unable to groom their own closers from within is that you always wind up paying too much on the open market. You're getting a guy whose former team decided that he wasn't worth the money he was asking. Compound this with the fact that you don't know how well this guy will perform in New York. Don't take this as an endorsement of Aaron Heilman as next year's closer -- we simply haven't seen enough to take that gamble. I just wish the Mets could actually develop some closer candidates from within the organization.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Not Quitting on the Season

Mets 3 - Marlins 2
Mets 5 - Marlins 4
Marlins 2 - Mets 1
Mets 5 - Nationals 2
Mets 5 - Nationals 2
Mets 6 - Nationals 5
Mets 6 - Phillies 5

I went away for a week and came back to a different team. And yes, I do realize that the pressure is certainly off of this team, and when it still mattered for the season we didn't see anything like this. I won't try to pretend that this past week is the equivalent of a true play-off run, but I also can't agree with those of you who believe it means nada.

After their disastrous early September collapse, I half expected to see this team do what so many other Met teams have done and just mail in the last half of the month. I've always felt that a part of the general Met malaise is related to this attitude. To me, it's not about cosmetics such as a .500 record or not finishing last. I believe that a respect for the game demands that you play out the season, especially when you are playing games against teams that are still in the race. (And wasn't it sweet to deliver a nice groin kick to the Marlins and Phillies playoff hopes?) I think maybe this team finally gets it, which does give me some hope for next year. And for those of you eager to fire Willie, you have to at least respect his role in righting the ship.

I'm going to resist the urge at this point to talk a lot about what the team should do this off-season. Discussions like that belong to the hot stove months. But after looking at the potential free agents at first base I'd love to see this kid Jacobs get a real shot. Just something about him -- I've seen plenty of flash in the pan types in my years of watching this team, but I just believe there's something real here. Besides the sweet swing and surprisingly decent defense he has a little of that swagger. And it's not like he came out of nowhere this year. He had a big season 2 years ago, also.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Beating the Braves is Always Good

Mets 4 - Braves 1

Leaving for a week in Florida later this morning, but I couldn't miss noting a series win against Atlanta. Trust me, I know that September Met games are once again meaningless, but taking 2 of 3 from the Braves still has some meaning for the future. I fully expected, based on the last 3 weeks, to see the Braves take at least 2 of these games, continuing their dominance of the Mets.

It sure looked that way, too, as the Mets once again made John Thomson look like Cy Young, and little hemorrhoid Marcus Giles homered. But then, in a span of four pitches in the sixth: ball four to Reyes -- RBI double by Diaz -- RBI double by Beltran -- 2 run HR by Cliff -- the Mets had all the cushion Tom Glavine would need to take the series. It's a start, and a nice sign that the Mets haven't completely packed it in.

See you in a week.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Hard to Watch

Braves 7 - Mets 4

It's getting harder to watch these games day by day. I'm finding myself torn as the remaining games of the season dwindle down. On one hand, I really want to watch, but when I put the game on they look really awful. I'm heading out of town for a week beginning tomorrow. I'll be in Florida, where I won't be able to watch the games. All in all it is probably for the best.

I'll take the full week off, from both watching and writing about the Mets. We'll give such topics as "trade for Manny -- no way", "Heath Bell -- whose wife did he sleep with", "Trachsel vs. Zambrano 2006", "Shingo Takatsu -- you most be joking", and others some time to simmer. When I get back it will be the last week of the season, time to enjoy the last few games and start thinking about next year.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


Mets 4 - Braves 0

I don't know how many Met fans are still paying attention to the team, but those of us who still are really appreciated last night's game. It's always great on those rare occasions where we beat Atlanta, to see Chipper going down looking in the ninth was icing on the cake. Strikes out looking on a 3-2 count in which he never swung the bat at one pitch. Actually, that seemed to be the strategy of every Brave in the ninth, except Jeff Francouer who walks less than Reyes.

Kudos to Pedro for toughing it out and giving the fans and the team itself a badly needed win. And thanks for keeping Looper out of the game, Pedro. I don't have any hatred for Looper as some do, but I've had enough of watching him close games.

Kudos to Mike Jacobs, also. After cooling off abruptly after that great Arizona series, he has made the adjustment and still looks like a player that can help this team next year. Besides a nice looking swing, he brings that intangible of confidence in himself that is so important.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Losing Is Bad (and Other Ramblings)

Nats 6 - Mets 5

A once promising season has taken a really ugly turn at the end. Yesterday's game was a perfect representation of what's been going wrong, capped off by Looper and Matsui being the goats. You have to appreciate the irony of it. Still, though I know this won't win me points with most Met fans I don't have anything against either one.

Looper is certainly not a true closer. As a matter of fact, I think he absolutely lacks the "stuff" of a closer, but I kind of like his toughness and grittiness. It's not easy to pitch in New York, so when you have a guy that can handle it to me he is valuable. I think he could contribute next year out of the pen in a set-up role, but I doubt if that would happen now. I think too many Met fans have seen enough of him, and to be fair, I think he might still command money beyond his worth as a pitcher now. There would still be plenty of interest in him from teams as a closer, and you would have to pay him as such to keep him in New York. But how do you justify paying that kind of money to an 8th inning guy that can't get lefties out?

As for Kaz, I don't think he is anything close to what the Mets thought they were signing. I do, however, think the Mets have more pressing needs in the off-season than replacing him at second base. We need a full-time catcher, a first baseman that can contribute offensively, and some bullpen help. I easily put all of those needs ahead of replacing Matsui - in fact, I think it would be a waste of resources better spent. Don't get me wrong here, I'm not telling you Kaz is great, but I think he is serviceable. If replacing Kaz gets in the way of upgrading some of these other places, especially bullpen, I think it's silly. But for all of that, I think he is so deeply in the Roger Cedeno zone that he is almost surely history.

I wrote a while back that I felt Willie had to show that he could keep this team from quitting on him. Since then the losing has continued. Funny, though, I don't get the same feeling watching the team this September that I did%

Monday, September 12, 2005

Playing It Out

Mets 7 - Cardinals 2

I didn't write about Saturday's dreary 4-2 loss because there wasn't anything new to say. That loss was so much like previous losses on this trip. Anything new was provided by Mike Piazza's return. The home run was cool; watching him get hit in the head was disturbing. Glad he's okay.

As for yesterday, that was the kind of game we kept hoping for when it still mattered. Now the Mets are so irrelevant for the rest of this year they don't even rate a small story in my local paper, just a blurb and a box score. The excitement from late August and the hope that we might avoid this ho-hum September have faded away.

But I didn't start this blog to indulge myself in whining. And I still feel strongly, as stated preciously, that there is still some importance to the final weeks of the season. It's important for what we are hoping to build here that this team treats every game until the end of the season with respect, professionalism and effort. There are a lot of guys playing now that will be here next year.

As disappointed as I feel in the shocking speed that we fell out of this race, I still enjoy watching a kid like Jacobs making adjustments to major league pitching. It's still fun to watch Wright, Reyes and Diaz. These games, for all of their lack of real significance, are all the more precious to me as this season winds down. Soon the leaves will begin to turn and the Mets will be gone again. The 37th season with my Mets will have ended in the frustration and disappointment of so many previous seasons. Despite everything, I will miss them.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

What's Left To Say?

Cardinals 3 - Mets 2

If there was one bright spot last night it was Jae Seo's continuing to show that he can truly be an important part of this team going forward. I guess if I taxed my brain really hard I might be able to come up with something else, but I think I'll just give it a break.

At this stage, I just want to see them win again, because this road trip is taking on the qualities of a nightmare. All my goals and hopes for this team have boiled down to that: just win one. Then maybe we can talk about something else.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Reason To Believe

Cardinals 5 - Mets 0

I promised myself that I wouldn't watch the game last night. I needed a sanity break from this team. Yet, like a true addict, I couldn't stay away. I flipped the game back on many times during the evening, long after I had any real hope that they might pull it out. I watched because I know I won't be able to watch much longer. I watched because even with all of my frustration with this team I know that I will miss them in a little more than three weeks when they are gone.

This is my 36th season of following this team, of being hooked, of probably caring a little too much about them. I don't have a lot to show for it. The 1969 championship that sucked me in, the 1973 team that came back from the dead to almost win it all again, the 1986 triumph that I look back at with a mix of joy for what that team accomplished and disappointment that they didn't follow it up. A couple of playoff runs at the turn of the millennium. But mostly the Mets have been bad, often insignificant, basically cannon fodder for teams that were managed smarter.

I'm not going to bore you here with a tedious essay on "Why I Love Baseball." It's been done a million times by writers much more talented than I, and I can guarantee your reasons will be different than mine anyway.

Being a fan of baseball requires a much longer attention span than any other sport. Being a fan of the Mets additionally requires a mental and emotional resiliency. I know people that were Met fans back in the day that have walked away from this team without looking back.

And I live in Connecticut, where everyone is either a Red Sox or Yankee fan. Being a Met fan here feels like the scene in Animal House where Pinto and Flounder tried to pledge the cool fraternity and were seated with foreign, handicapped and just plain geeky kids. You really don't belong.

But I'm still here after all these years, all these disappointments. And I'm still here this season because I still love watching Wright and Reyes, wondering what they might accomplish in the coming years. It's exciting to root for home-grown talent after two decades of watching Met teams that were primarily composed of mercenaries from other organizations. It gives hope for next year.

And you know what, I'm still here because despite everything, there is still a small chance that this team can get hot and make a charge again after all. Crazy I know, improbable of course, and less likely day by day. But it's funny, no matter how long you've been following the game, baseball can still surprise you. That alone can keep you watching.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Not Yet

Braves 4 - Mets 3

I know a lot of Met fans aren't going to want to hear this, but despite everything I don't believe in curses, jinxes, voodoo or anything like that when it comes to baseball. I do believe that if you fail to execute in key situations, squander opportunities to pad your lead, and then have to rely on a closer that just doesn't have the stuff to close games, you have a recipe for games like last night's debacle.

The Braves almost always beat the Mets because they're a little better, more disciplined, and a whole lot tougher. They are working from a legacy of winning, and they carry a corresponding level of confidence. The Mets are still in a place where they hope they can win these games; the Braves expect to win. The real curse for the Mets, if you just have to find one, is the organizational malaise that has plagued them for most of the last 15 years and helped create a psychology of losing.

I don't care about Larry Jones. I don't care that he named his kid "Shea". If he wants to continue naming his children after places that make him happy, he can name the next one "Public Mens Room."

And please, don't waste your breath cursing Braden Looper. He won't be closing games at Shea next year.

I know that a lot of Met fans will be tuning out now, turning their attention to football. For me, though, I believe this team still has something to do. Part of what makes this team a little too soft is that they have been allowed to check out early when they fall out of the race. The past two Septembers they have rolled over and died, and you have to believe that the potential is there for it to happen again. I still firmly believe that this cannot be allowed to happen, if you want to really change the psychology of this team.

Other than that, I'd like to see a couple of things happen:

  • I like Doug Mientkiewicz, but I think he has as much chance as Looper to return here next year. Let's start playing Jacobs again and see if he can make the adjustment and start hitting again.

  • I don't really need to see any more of Shingo Takatsu or Danny Graves. How about giving some innings to Aaron Heilman, Heath Bell, and Tim Hamulack: younger guys that actually stand a chance of being here and helping us next year.

    Look, I'm as disappointed and disgusted as anyone, but there is still work to be done here, and I'm not going to let them off the hook. We don't need to "wait 'til next year" to attack this psychology of losing.

  • Wednesday, September 07, 2005

    Howe Now, Willie?

    Braves 3 - Mets 1

    The Mets took another shambling step down the road to perdition last night during yet another scintillating loss to the Braves. At this point they are stuck in baseball's Twilight Zone, basically just losing the same game over and over again.

    There has been much to be optimistic about this season as a Mets fan, unfortunately this team is squandering a great deal of the emotional capital they have built up with us. What's most frustrating to me is that they are not playing exceptionally poor baseball; they're just playing bad enough to lose. It forces me to realize that as far as they have come this season, they have much farther to go to be a contender. Physically they are a much improved club, but one that still lacks the mental toughness to win tight, high-stakes September ball games.

    In all my years of following this team I have seen this before. By far the most difficult leap for this team will be the next leap, the banana peel of a leap that they are so embarrassingly tripping up on these past two weeks. It's a leap of confidence that understands the difference between being intense and focused and just getting tight because you're trying too hard - from believing that you are focused when you really are not. It's that place that you get to as a team when you finally manage to make your way past the intersection of Hype and Hope and reach the Promised Land that so few Met teams have truly found.

    Don't get me wrong here; I'm not saying the team as it exists right now is good enough to make a serious post-season run. Omar Minaya will have his hands full this off-season, and this time it's going to require a lot more than spending a ton of Fred Wilpon's money on a big name or two. It will require the creative vision to strengthen the now without sacrificing the future. We're asking you to be a lot more than Steve Phillips, Omar, and we can only hope that you are up to the task.

    And then there is Willie, who is now past the 5 minute honeymoon that Mets fan so generously provide our managers, who now finds himself squarely in the Art Howe Zone, where the smallest move is open for incessant criticism and debate. It's a place where tabloid columnists and radio talk show hosts of dubious worth build themselves up by tearing a manager down. You've arrived now, Willie. The only way out of this mess is to produce what so many of you predecessors have failed to produce.

    You could have accomplished a lot if you had somehow managed to guide your team into a couple of wins in Atlanta, if you had found a way to get them to believe that they had a chance. We would be willing to forgive the fact that you yourself have so much to learn, if only you could have accomplished this. We wanted so badly for this team to surprise us, yet they only delivered the painful mediocrity that we have come to expect as fans.

    It was hard last September to watch Art Howe lose this team so completely, and it is would be even uglier to watch it happen again. For those of us that still believe that, despite everything, you have the makings of a real manager, it will be difficult to find ways to defend you. Perhaps you can find a way to guide your team back into a passable fight for a wild card hope that beyond reason still exists for them. What you must do, at the very least, is not let this team quit on you or us. We just can't tolerate that again.

    Tuesday, September 06, 2005

    Anyone Have Some Perspective I Can Borrow?

    Braves 4 - Mets 2

    After the game yesterday I sat there shaking my head and thinking over and over, "what a disaster." It's been a pet phrase of mine regarding all things Met for quite a long time. And then I thought about New Orleans, and I felt ashamed of myself. I think a lot of us are going to face this dilemma for the foreseeable future, as we nurse the small wounds that life sends our way. And trust me, I'm not trying to tell anyone else how to feel about this, I just need to figure it out for myself.

    Yesterday's game sucked, in oh-so-many ways. God, I'm tired of watching the Mets make Larry Jones a hero. I'm tired of the words "lack of clutch hitting." Although I don't blame Willie quite as much as some others seem to be doing, I can't shake the feeling over the past week that he hasn't been handling the pressure all that well. He might have a lot of winning experience as a player and coach, but as a manager we're looking at a raw rook. And it's probably not fair to expect anything different.

    There is a lot to dislike here, and in a season where you began to feel a little proud to be a Met fan again you're starting to experience an uncomfortable feeling of déjà vu. I can deal with this team falling out of the playoff race, I'm just not happy with the way they are doing it. And I can go on and on, but I'm not going to. I just need to breathe.

    Monday, September 05, 2005

    Labor Day Quick Hits

    As the Mets prepare to begin the series with the Braves this afternoon, I have a few short moments to myself before family obligations take over my day.

    As ugly as this past week has been, it's amazing that the Mets are only 2-1/2 games out of the wildcard. Losing 6 of 9 should have probably killed them. In a way, they're playing with house money now; maybe it will relax them enough to play a decent series in Atlanta.

    Hope Trachsel has another really good performance in him to justify all the emotion that's been spent on him in the past week.

    Schein Off

    I was driving home last night listening to WFAN. Adam Schein's show came on at 8:00, and he did his opening. After talking about the Yankees for a couple of minutes he switched over to the Mets. He talked about Saturday's loss to the Marlins, and Willie's decision to use Shingo Takatsu. He began to rant about how although he has defended Willie all year, Willie had DISGRACED HIMSELF with this move. This from a Yankee fan who could really care less.

    Fake anger and over-the-top silliness are taking over sports talk radio in a big way. Adam Schein is just another brick in this wall. Adam, from a Mets fan who doesn't buy your silly act: you have all of the subtlety of a fart, all of the real sports knowledge of a Macanudo cigar radio commercial, and the true disgrace is you. Good luck with your ratings, pal.

    Sunday, September 04, 2005

    Thank You, Jae Seo

    Mets 7 - Marlins 1

    I'm not going to make more of a single victory than it deserves, but today's win was big enough. We don't need to see another complete collapse in September, now at least we carry a modicum of positive momentum with us into the House of Pain tomorrow.

    In a season that has given us its share of frustrations, teases, and general downers, it's nice to have a story like Jae Seo's. Sent down to the minors right after pitching 7 innings of 1-hit shutout ball against the Phillies, Jae finally develops the pitches to complement his fastball and change. Now he looks like someone who can really help next year. Plus, his last name provides unimaginative tabloid headline writers the chance for endless puns on the word "so". Keep 'em coming, boys, I can't get enough of them.

    It Only Hurts When You Watch

    Marlins 5 - Mets 4

    Once again the Mets manage to stage a rally in the 9th, once again they fall short. It's become a theme for the season. At some point if I'm feeling particularly OCD, I might sit down and try to calculate how many games the Mets got at least the tying run to the plate in the ninth and then lost.

    Willie certainly left himself open to second-guessing again. I can't say that I was happy to see the dying hopes of this season hanging on the right arm of Shingo Takatsu; I thought it was a mistake. I think the pressure of being a first year manager with a bad bullpen caught up to Willie last night. He took the gamble and watched the season float away over Cliff Floyd's glove in the seventh. Still, the bottom line is that this bullpen needs to be a real priority for Omar in the off-season.


    I don't know about you, but I just knew Beltran wasn't going to come through in the ninth inning, and I don't like feeling that way. I have nothing against this kid -- I can't fault his work ethic, his willingness to play hurt, or his commitment to being a part of making the Mets a winner. I find it painful to watch the pressure he puts on himself to live up to a contract based more on his potential than anything else.

    Although I am convinced (and drone on endlessly) that the Mets must ultimately change the way that they do business, must stop betting the ranch on high-price players and work harder to build a solid baseball organization, I also freely confess that I did support signing Beltran. Because of that, I am complicit in his failures. I can't say "I told you so", because I didn't.

    And I still like you Carlos. I still root for you. I still hope that you can find the sense of peace playing baseball in New York that you spoke of when you came back from that awful collision. I hope that you can turn those boos into cheers, if not this year than next, because you do everything right -- except when you are in the batter's box and the game is on the line. Then, frankly, you just suck. I still root for you Carlos -- but you don't make it easy.


    As I said at the start of my post, Willie has a knack for leaving himself open to big-time second-guessing. I'm not going to defend him here, because he has earned some abuse. As a first-time manager, I guess this shouldn't come as a huge surprise to any of us. Willie, I'm still willing to give you the benefit of the doubt to a point, but you have to do one thing. I expect you to find a way to keep this team from completely tanking the season.

    We've seen that way too often in September, and I'm not willing to sit through another early checkout. I've given you the benefit of the doubt plenty, Mr. Randolph, and I won't let you off the hook on this. I'm willing to wait another year for a real playoff push by the Mets, but I will hold you personally accountable if this whole month goes down the toilet.

    Saturday, September 03, 2005

    Midnight in Miami

    Marlins 4 - Mets 2

    Last night sucked. I have nothing really positive to say about it. The Mets have decided to hurl themselves out of this race immediately after injecting themselves back in it, and I'm just plain tired of watching Dontrelle Willis romp through another game against us. I draw no comfort at all in the way the team fought to come back in the 9th. They've done this all year: nice to see them go down fighting but go down they almost always do. There are no moral victories. I'm just going to turn the page.

    Just one general observation here: give up this 6 man rotation. All you're going to get out of it is that neither Zambrano nor Trachsel will pitch enough to be sharp. Go with Trachsel because Zambrano might actually give you something out of the pen. If we fall completely out of the race shut down Pedro for the season, maybe Benson, too, if he's as banged up as rumored to be. If we actually manage to stay in the race for a while, just pick one and live with him.

    Big changes

    In today's Daily News Adam Rubin has a story on a huge shakeup in the Mets scouting staff. I hope these moves signal a change in the organization's thinking.

    With a few notable exceptions, the Mets system has failed to produce significant help for the big club. This must change if the Mets are going to build a consistently winning organization. Years of incompetence and lack of vision on the part of management has cost the Mets dearly with their fans. I think the biggest reason for all of the anger with the team is the lack of trust on the fans' part with team management.

    It is sexier in the short term to go after big name, big money players through trades and free agency. It requires time, vision and courage to do the right thing and put the effort and monetary resources into building scouting and development into what it needs to be. Holding people accountable is only a first step in this process.

    Friday, September 02, 2005

    Anger Management

    Phillies 3 - Mets 1

    Leave it to the Mets to follow up the streak that put them back into the wild card race by losing 4 of 5. If they were actually trying to piss of their fans they couldn't be doing a better job. Funny how in what can only be described as a Renaissance season at Shea a lot of the faithful seem to be always on the verge of rage.

    For what it's worth, I believe Mets management has itself to blame for a lot of this anger. The winter of 2003-2004 took what was a understandably strong irritation over truly bad management and focused it to a white-hot intensity with the Vladimir Guerrero fiasco. Then they tried to recover from that by signing Kaz Matsui, building up unreal expectations in the process. Fans lost all sense of trust that the Mets were truly about winning, and this growing anger has demanded scapegoats as sacrifices ever since: Art Howe, Kaz, Zambrano, even Beltran now.

    I can identify with this, but I can't join in it anymore. Anger like this almost destroyed my love of baseball. I was so mad in the years following 1988, as the Mets took what they built and foolishly dismantled it. After all of those nightmare years in the '70s and early '80s, to watch it all happen again was too painful. The pain and frustration of losing, the incompetence displayed both on the field and in the front office, and then the strike -- it was just too much. When you lose all sense of perspective on something, when you lose the joy of it, it's time to step back. I did for a while, and I hope those of you in the same boat now that I was then can find a way to regain perspective, too.

    I hope that you can learn what I learned: baseball is a game, and games are supposed to be fun. Amazing how many years it took genius me to relearn what I knew instinctively as a child. And don't get me wrong, I share a sense of frustration when the Mets lose, especially when they play poorly. Some of their losses this year bothered me a lot. But I don't let it get to the point anymore where frustration with losing greatly outbalances the fun of a victory. Because when you reach that point as a fan, you really have to question why you would choose to put yourself through it.

    I don't have the opportunity to speak to other Met fans very often, but when I do, I'm surprised that so many of them choose to define the season by the failures -- opening day, that horrible Friday night in Pittsburgh, the road trip to Oakland and Seattle, Pedro's 8th inning in LA.

    As for me, I kind of like to remember the smile on Cliff Floyd's face as he rounded the bases after hitting that extraordinary home run against the Angels. That was cool.

    Thursday, September 01, 2005


    Phillies 8 - Mets 2

    If Tuesday's game brought home everything that is great about being in a pennant race, yesterday's was the flip side. It hurt to watch Pedro take that kind of beating. It was a disappointing game on a lot of levels. You want more than that when your team has a chance to take the wild card lead.

    Welcome to September baseball, where "meaningful games" is more than just a marketing phrase. I'd almost forgotten how you just live and die with each day's game. And I have to admit - even when it really hurts it's still fun. It's fun to be in it, I can only hope that they can hang on for a while.

    I've been listening to WFAN this morning. I know it's not good for me, but I can't help it. Where I live in Connecticut, there are few Mets fans. The Yankees and the Red Sox rule around here. I used to work in a place where I actually knew a couple of Met fans, but no longer. Often listening to WFAN and reading some of the blogs is the only contact I have with live Met fans.

    Still, the type of Met fan that calls WFAN tends to be a LOT ANGRIER than the few I used to know. Sometimes it gets old, all the negative vibes floating over the airwaves. But I'm a northeastern guy, and there's an odd comfort to unreasonable anger - along with biting sarcasm, it's how I know I'm home. When I'm in different parts of the country for any length of time, I have to fight down an urge to scream "why are you all being so f---cking nice to me?"

    It's September, and the passion is back...