Mets: The Tin Man’s Team

It’s less than a full month into the season and normally I’m the first person to say, “it’s too early to panic.”  Seriously, I am.  But this is an exception.  IT IS TIME TO PANIC.

And here’s why:

After today’s sorry loss to the Cubs (8-1), the Mets have now lost nine games.  Of those nine games, the Mets have fallen behind early and failed to score more than 1 run five times.  That is ugly.  The simple fact is this: when this team gets down, they give up.  Don’t believe me? Take a look.

APRIL 6 @ ATLANTA: The offense is shut down by John Smoltz.  No big deal, right? Smoltz is still a great pitcher, a true ace, and losing to him is not a big deal.  But Smoltz only pitches 5 innings, and Mets fail to do anything productive off of the less-than-impressive Braves bullpen.  They squeak out a single run in the 9th but that’s only because David Write is great.  Final score: 3-1, Braves.

APRIL 8 vs. PHILADELPHIA: The boys in blue and orange lead 2-0 on a solo HR by Delgado (this was his last positive contribution to the team) and a fielder’s choice by Ryan Church.  But that’s it.  After Church’s RBI (which is an RBI on paper, but the dribbler was barely touched by his bat) the Mets scored nothing after the 4th inning.  The could not scratch out a run off of an ancient Jamie Moyer or the “terrible” Philly bullpen (Gordon, Romero, and Chad Durbin). What’s worse is that they left runners in scoring position in the 5th, 7th, and 8th innings!  Once again, they simply gave up on trying to score. Final score: 5-2, Phillies.

APRIL 12 vs. MILWAUKEE: Again, the Mets scored 2 early (both in the first inning) but then they failed to score more than a single run the rest of the game.  This was Santana’s homecoming, and, while he wasn’t light’s out, he was still good enough to win.  But the Mets couldn’t score anything against Ben Sheets, despite being very hittable.  They left runners in scoring position in the 1st and 2nd innings, and then proceeded to do nothing the rest of the way.  Final score: 5-3, Brewers.

APRIL 21 vs. CHICAGO: The Cubs jump out and go head by 2 in the 4th inning, and once they’re behind, the Mets just stop.  The offense is anemic, scoring just one lone run.  Reyes led off the game with a single, and if I had known that this would be the high point of the game, I would have stopped watching right then.  Final score: 7-1, Cubs.

APRIL 22 vs. CHICAGO: This was a repeat performance of the game on the 21st.  The Mets fall behind by 3 after the 4th inning, and again manage only 1 single run.  That’s it.  This, just like the day before, was a winnable game; the underwhelming Mets bullpen gave up runs late and put the game out of reach, but had the offense found a way to get something—anything—done earlier, it would have been an entirely different ballgame.  Final score: 8-1, Cubs.

So what’s the point to all of this?  Simple: The Mets seem to be lacking a sense of caring.  The heart just isn’t there.  It’s what was missing last year and it seems to be missing already now this year.  People will tell you that the bullpen blew it for them in September of last year; others will say it was the manager’s fault; I say it was a lack of heart.  I didn’t like the team that lost those games, but not because I’m not loyal or because they were losing or because I’m a fair-weather fan.  I didn’t like that team because they just looked like they gave up.  The Phillies deserved to win last year because they never gave up: they came from behind a ridiculous number of times last year because they had heart.  This team, the 2008 incarnation of the New York Mets, so far, has no heart.  And if this keeps up, it’s only going to get harder and harder to root for them.

I say this to my students all the time (I’m a teacher): I will work as hard for you as you will for yourself, but I won’t work harder.  The same thing applies: I refuse to care more about the Mets wins and loses than the players on the team. They need to show that they actually care or they’re in danger of another disappointing season.

2 Responses to “Mets: The Tin Man’s Team”

  1. Chris Wilcox says:

    I didn’t see today’s game (the problem with working 11-8 Monday through Friday). I had planned to watch it on Tivo, but was told in advance by enough people not to, and I don’t think I’m going to regret that decision.

    This disclaimer out of the way…despite not watching today’s game, I’m not going to panic. Yet. Truth is, the team that scores first is going to win something like 70% of the time (I’m pulling the percentage out of thin air but the stat is still true – the team that scores first is more likely to win). It’s not necessarily a lack of heart, it’s just statistical probability working itself against the Mets. It’s worth pointing out that of the 11 times the Mets have scored first, they’ve won 9. That they’ve scored first in 11 of their 18 games is actually a good sign – it means that if they keep up their pace of scoring first over 162 games, we should expect that this will be a good season.

    The problem is, when you have games like today, it winds up being disheartening to watch them lose. A bad loss sticks with you more than a good win. It’s no reason to panic yet – as long as they keep jumping out to leads, they should be OK.

    And as I’ve said before, I *do* blame the September collapse on the bullpen – because the team was scoring first in those games and losing anyway, because the pen couldn’t hold on. Could the offense have done more AFTER the bullpen had blown the leads? Sure, but scoring runs wasn’t the Mets’ problem over August and September, it was preventing them from scoring; their team ERA by month was worse in August and September than it was in any other month.

    The bad news is, it looks like Aaron Heilman and Jorge Sosa apparently found whatever it is that caused Guillermo Mota to get so bad. That’s a problem. Feliciano also hasn’t looked himself yet. The good news is, Joe Smith looks capable, Duaner Sanchez is looking good, and Billy Wagner is looking lights-out, plus that Carlos Muniz kid should be up again at some point and he looked good as well.

    So hope is not lost, and it shouldn’t be. Sure, Carlos Delgado has been struggling (again). Carlos Beltran isn’t hitting with runners on base. But I expect Beltran to eventually right himself, and Delgado isn’t going to hit .200 all season. And Ryan Church and Angel Pagan have been nice surprises, David Wright continues to hit like the MVP he should have been, Reyes is showing signs of life, and the team gets Moises Alou back soon. The sky’s not falling yet, guys. Relax.

  2. tjv101 says:

    The Mets have looked terrible the last two days against the Cubs. Granted, the Cubs are a good team this year and they had to face Zambrano and Lilly. That would worry me if I was a Cubs fan because you never know which version of those guys you are going to get. Unfortunately, for the Mets they came across the dominant ones. Its awful to score two runs total in two games with that offense especially after they showed us a lot during the Phils series over the weekend. Delgado is just awful. It really seems like he is washed up. He swings late on everthing. He pops everything up or grounds out weakly every time up. With runners in scoring position, he is even worse. I’m hoping that getting Alou back over the weekend will jump start their offense. 10-9 record is not very good but going to play the Nats twice straight should make that 12-9 with Santana and Perez pitching this week. This game is all about ups and downs. Also, lets be honest no one is really running away with anything in this division. Each team in this division has faults. The Mets will be fine.

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