In 2006, the Mets ran away with their division, playing out games with guts and heart, and giving all of us the feeling that no game was un-winnable.
In 2007, there has been no guts, no heart, and now no victories. And we as fans are looking at a monumental collapse of epic proportions that is about to see its final, awful chapter unfold this weekend, with no sense that anything will be able to reverse it.
I suppose you could say that the collapse has been recent, but in actuality, this has been going on since June. You could pinpoint it, I suppose, with the Home Run hit by Endy Chavez against the Yankees on May 18th. Endy hit this HR, and got a lot of well deserved ink because of it, as it aided the Mets to a victory. But for some reason, this may have gotten in the head of Jose Reyes, because ever since then, his swing has been so cocked-up, as though he is suddenly trying to uppercut the ball and hit more Home Runs, when he should swing flat and hit line drives. Now, he's foul tipping balls, popping them up, or missing them completely. Jose no hit, no runners on base for Carlos, Carlos, David et.al to drive in.
But this season long collapse has gone largely un-noticed, aside from the odd, snide remarks here and there because they were winning games, here and there, and there seemingly were just idle threats from Atlanta and Philadelphia, who we figured would fade soon enough, once we really got going.
We never got going. Atlanta and Philly hung around. No improvements were made at the trading deadline. Why not? We're still in first.
But then, all of a sudden, Philly kicked our asses. And they got hot. And we stayed flat. And the pitching faltered. And the offense sputtered. And the lead shrank. And now, the panic has set in, but it's too late.
Now, the articles are coming out, and everything about the glaring shortcomings of this team are coming to the forefront. And all we get is a manager who can do nothing more than mumble to himself after yet another loss in which the team looked lifeless and hopeless.
I've been kicking around the idea of going to all the remaining games, because I feel completely helpless and frustrated just sitting there while all this is going on. I may, I may not. I wonder how much I feel like paying for the privilege of watching my team fall apart. But I went last night. I subjected myself to it. I felt nervous all day. It got worse as I got to the ballpark. Whatever the crowd was announced at, I assure you Shea was only about half full. Nervous, but mostly in good spirits. The crowd was behind the Mets, 100%. Trying in any way we could to will this team to victory. And Pedro answered the bell, allowing 3 runs over 7 heroic innings.
He was the only one who bothered to show up.
I can't really make too much more sense of it. I guess it can best be explained in the following series of text messages to El Guapo:
7:25pm: It is a small crowd but they are trying to will the Mets through this while Philly is stampeding. I feel sick.
7:30pm: They look so tight.
7:55pm: Whatever this team has left needs to come out now. Down 3 and Philly up 6. I'm too upset to speak right now.
8:25pm: OH MY FUCKING GOD WHEN DO WE GET A BREAK?
8:52pm: This is a truly heroic effort from Pedro. He has energized the crowd but the offense has taken us right out of it.
9:13pm: Remember how I felt last year during Game 7? That's about how I feel right now.
9:25pm: Do they want this anymore?
9:35pm: Well, that might not have been the worst game I've ever been to, but it's certainly the most depressing.
9:52pm: Mets fans can smile like they mean it.
What's left? I don't know. Something tells me that I should save the money I would have spent on a ticket to tonight's game and spend that money instead on several alcoholic beverages, which I will consume at Ballclub HQ, East Village Bureau while watching the game on TV...
...If I don't have to put a bag over my head first.