I suppose in the back of my mind, I knew this was going to happen. It was, for most of us, a great deal of wishful thinking to honestly believe that the Mets resounding victories over the Yankees last weekend would spur the team on to bigger and better things. Clearly, those victories were an aberration, the Mets taking advantage of a team that appears to be in worse shape than they are themselves. This trip to Atlanta has, so far, proved that.
The Clown Car steamed into Atlanta on Tuesday morning and seems to have been behind by 5 runs ever since that point. Unlike two years ago, when no deficit seemed insurmountable, once this team gets behind, they turn, collectively, into Derek Bell and go into Operation Shutdown.
It doesn't help that the Mets continue to hit singles by the bucketload, getting runners on and then impotently leaving them where they stand. But by time this happens, the games have usually been hopelessly out of reach. It's not that the team is being outclassed by a superior opponent, the Mets just aren't a good team right now. They're underachieving and playing below the level of their competition, which makes it all the more frustrating.
Willie seems to have little to no touch right now. He's won 290 games as the Mets manager, and I'm beginning to be more and more hard pressed to think he's going to see 300. What's worse, even though he reached out to his team and they seemed to rally around each other, it's clear that he himself is suffering from a horrendous case of internal turmoil. His team has been struggling through a crucial stretch in the season. He's heard the ramblings and the words, and, obviously, it bothered him to the point that he blew up about it in the press, made some ill-advised and ill-timed comments, and now he's got to clean up his own mess.
Willie shouldn't go after the fans. We appreciate what he was able to do in his first two years with the team. But with success comes higher expectations and, as a manager, he's failed to do that. I've already hashed and re-hashed the argument from a billion different angles, and I keep arriving at the same conclusion. Yes, the mess the team is right now isn't Willie's fault. It's a combination of the players, the Manager and the GM. The players are put there by Omar. They, as a group, and individually in several cases have underperformed. And Willie has not been able to sufficiently motivate them. He's also quite clearly lost his touch when it comes to managing within the game, something that has always been suspect. Willie is a very sensitive person, and many people who know him have said as much. And with the turmoil and the controversy surrounding him, he was obviously hurt enough to lash out rather than address the problems from within. I certainly don't think Willie is a hateful or a racist person. I don't think anyone on the team is. But he needs to be keenly aware of where he is, where he manages, the voracity of the media that he's speaking to and be careful. Willie should be judged on the merits of the job he's done, and although he has had a bit of success, he's also had a bit of failure as well, and while the successes have been great, the failures have been spectacular.
He can't be solely blamed right now, but as things stand, Willie is the captain of a sinking ship, a team that has pretty much slept its way to a .500 record almost 2 months into the season. Now the controversy.
He's not long for this team and he knows it. Blame the coaches, blame the players, blame Omar, blame whoever. They're all at fault. But every bad situation needs a fall guy, and he's been the most likely culprit. And you can either defiantly flip your proverbial middle finger at everyone and persevere (see: Bobby Valentine, June, 1999) or you can petulantly fire back at your detractors. Choose the latter, and the results generally are not good. You can see this one coming.
For the 19 games: 3-5.