Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Garbage Time Team

Sometimes I wonder if the Mets just go into Garbage time mode before the game's even started. That's more or less what it looked like last night in Milwaukee, where the Mets looked completely worn out and hung over from this weekend's massacre before exploding for 3 whole runs in a 9th inning rally that you can guarantee would not have happened had the Brewers not blown the game open innings earlier.

By virtue of their stellar play, the Mets have now earned themselves a spot in 3rd place, a departure from the lofty 2nd place perch we've grown so used to over the past 3 seasons. Apparently just missing the boat wasn't good enough for the Mets, now it's time for some real mediocrity.

I think you could discuss the offensive problems with the Mets until you're blue in the face. If you really want to create a solution, I think this is the only thing that needs to be done. I can't take full credit for this idea, in reality, it must go to my insane co-worker, but when he bellowed this at me yesterday morning and punctuated it by screaming "PUT THAT IN YOUR BLOG!" I figured it was time to bring it up.

Rather than the Mets taking the field, there should be a Clown Car that pulls up to the Pitcher's mound at the beginning of each game. One by one, each member of the team gets out of the car, dressed in some form of ridiculous outfit, led by Jerry Manuel, who is in full getup, with the Dunce's cap, Polka-dot suit, giant shoes and a huge red nose. The entrance music will, of course, have to be some sort of Circus Calliope. Everyone's At Bat music will have to reflect this. Sadly, this means no more Reggaeton (or Creed, in Brian Schneider's case). After everyone makes their entrance, usually by tripping over the pitchers mound or doing a cartwheel in the Outfield, Jeff Wilpon gets out of the car, wearing a T-shirt that reads "I'm With Stupid," and an arrow pointing to his left. To his left, Fred Wilpon. Fred wears a T-shirt that reads "I invested with Bernie Madoff."

Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2009 New York Mets. Imminent Disaster awaits.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Status of the Mets

Judging from this past weekend, it's not very good.

I went against my general ballpark routine last night several different ways in the hopes that it might change the Mets luck and bring them a few runs last night. Some of my efforts might have been more for the preservation of my own sanity more than anything else. Whatever I tried, however, I tried in vain as rather than witnessing the Mets kick the Yankees in the nuts and avert a sweep, I saw the Mets play the part of the Mets perfectly, squandering opportunity after opportunity and eventually embarrassing themselves, getting swept and being the victim of Mariano Rivera's 500th Save.

It's a great team.

I started out by getting to Citi Field at around 5:45pm. The only time I get to the stadium this early is either on Opening Day or the Playoffs. Or when I was younger and trying to get autographs. Nonetheless, I got there just as they were opening the gates. I had brought a cap for the cap trade (something I always forget), an old Jets cap that I'd bought for $5 in the Port Authority Bus Terminal on my way to a Jets game last season. I'm not a Jets fan, so I didn't have any particular attachment to it. But the cap they were giving out was such a cheap piece of crap that I think they got the better part of the deal.

Once inside, I figured I would walk around a bit, since there's nothing much else to do. What I did was make an amazing discovery: I finally figured out the way to beat the lines at Shake Shack! If you want to beat the lines, the solution is to get there 2 hours before the game! After my last attempt to eat there resulted in a 30-minute wait, this time, I zipped through the line in 5 minutes! Man, what a difference!

I managed to pass the time walking around and snapping photos of the Citi Field interior, and I'll share them this week, hopefully. By time the game started, I was feeling pretty grim. The stadium was full, there was a solid presence of Yankee fans, and I figured the only way I was going to get through this was with a few beers. So, going against convention, I started drinking. Then, I started updating my Facebook status en masse, my comments becoming more and more snide as things progressed. In fact, you could have figured out what was going on, more or less, just from following along.

3:44 pm - I sincerely hope I don't regret going to the Mets/Yankees game tonight...

8:58pm - 3 in the 1st for the Yankees. Mets making Wang look like Juan Marichal. F This, I'm drinking. Where the hell is the beer guy!?

9:11pm - I'm wearing my David Wright jersey tonight. In honor of this, David Wright has hit into a double play. I want to go home.

9:38pm - Holy Crap! The Mets score 2!

9:50pm - Dear Major League Pitchers: Struggling? High ERA and WHIP? In need of confidence? Just face the New York Mets! The cure for the common pitcher.

10:02pm - My choice for player of the game: Robbie Cano. DON'T YA KNOW!

10:09pm - Joe Girardi has just asked for a Coke with his Wang.

10:29pm - Buy me some peanuts and SACK O' NUTS!

10:47pm - And a big dish of gooey chop suey in the puss to you too, Matsui!

11:08pm - Mister Sandman, bring me a dream...


11:23pm - I could use a nap.

11:33pm - WALK HIM!!!

11:37pm - I live in Hell. I live in Hell.

11:49pm - I hate being a Mets fan. Have I ever said that before? Probably. Well, it's because more often than not, I do. Baseball sucks. Fuck this fucking game.

12:02am - I spent 3 hours and 40 minutes watching this crapfest? Jesus. What sort of a masochist am I?

There was one saving grace for the evening. Usually, these games, if they go wrong, can turn into a gigantic horrible mess of Drunken, high and mighty Yankee fans starting trouble and picking on Mets fans. Fights generally ensue. Sometimes, this doesn't happen. Early, I thought there was a transplanted Bleacher Creature in a Joba jersey nearby. It could have been Joba himself. But outside of him, the crowd was actually pretty calm and peaceful. I sat next to a Yankee fan who was there with a Mets fan and we had a perfectly pleasant conversation throughout the game. Once the game got ugly, rather, when Rivera walked, most of the crowd emptied out since it was well past 11:30. And once the game ended, I breezed right out of the stadium and onto a 7 Express home. No screaming, no yelling, no wanting to choke someone. Just the ill misery of rooting for a team thats gone horribly awry. They had opportunity after opportunity to push a tying or perhaps a lead run across, and they failed every time. They didn't move runners up, they couldn't get runners in, and once the Yankees stretched the 1-run lead to a 2-run lead, everyone knew the game was over.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Funny Guys

The only enjoyment last night's game seems to have provided is a bunch of really ridiculous looking photographs of the Yankees making merry all over our back yard. It's kind of sickening, really.

There's not much to laugh about as far as the Mets are concerned. Sometime around the 6th inning, when it was apparent that Tim Redding's magic had run out on him and the Mets offense had no prayer of putting together anything resembling a rally, a brief part of me started to root for A.J. Burnett to go ahead and throw a no-hitter. Yes, it would have caused me no end of grief from no end of Yankee fan friends and co-workers I have, and most of my Mets fan compadres would have had to suck it up but good. But in reality, it would have served the Mets right.

We can make all we want about how we've kept it close and kept it respectable, but right now, this is not a good team. In fact, I have a hard time even calling this a viable team. The Mets are playing without 3 of the 4 players counted on to shoulder the load, guys who missed about 10 games between them for all of last season. Of the 8 position players in the Mets lineup last night, only 4 were in the Opening Day lineup, one is at a different position, another is in a platoon, a third has been inconsistent and the other one is David Wright, an island unto himself in this heap of dreck. Jerry Manuel finally, in his own way, seemed to pop off after the game about how the Mets need some help and Omar has to do something. Something! You want to not be reactionary and you want to not tread water, but this is an emergency situation. I'm not sure what it takes to get a reaction. Almost getting no-hit by your closest geographic rival was a start. Staring down getting swept by them, and losing to a pitcher with an 0-6 record an an ERA over 11 would be another. Those 3 games in Philadaelphia aren't looking too happy right now either.

You have to laugh at the ridiculous pictures of the Yankees. It's the only thing right now that keeps you from screaming.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

We Love You, Too!

They make an adorable couple, don't they?

Yes, it's come to this for the Mets. After looking Pathetic on Friday and Miserable on Saturday, it's not even worth sitting here and ripping on my own team. I'll just make some sophomoric jokes about the other team instead. It's more fun, and it makes me and everyone else feel just a little bit better about the situation.

At least, I hope it does.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Thank Evans!

I guess if I was going to pick the perfect day to buzz work and go to the Mets game instead, yesterday would have been that day.

The celebrated pitching matchup of Chris Carpenter and Johan Santana was somewhat uneven, but definitely lived up to its billing. Santana wasn't sharp most of the afternoon, spending most of the day working with runners on base or behind in the count. But, true to form, Santana got the outs he needed to get and prevented the Cardinals from doing too much damage. 2 runs in 7 innings, both coming on a pair of 2-out hits. You can't ask for much more. The rest, then, would be left to chance on how the Mets offense—if such a group can be called an "offense—would fare against Carpentier.

For most of the afternoon it didn't look promising. But, for one inning, Carpenter stifled the Mets completely, allowing nothing more than a hit batsman in the 1st inning. But it was the 4th inning where the Mets were able to reach him, and it was a 2-out, 2-run double by Nick Evans that gave the Mets their slight margin of victory.

The Mets offense right now is a total Mess. They are devoid of fundamentals. I attended the game with a colleague who spent most of the game screaming, and quite literally screaming about how the Mets downfall is their inability to move runners along. It happened in the 1st, it happened in the 4th and it happened in the 8th, which, if I'm not mistaken, were the only innings the Mets had any runners on base altogether. One such instance of pushing a runner from 1st to 2nd with less than 2 outs could have meant an extra run here or there, which would be crucial in this game.

Crucial, but fortunately, not necessary.

Santana wasn't sharp, we know that. He made big pitches when he needed to, in particular to Pujols in the 2nd, who lifted a drive to left that looked real scary off the bat, and to Cheech Molina, who hit a flare into center that appeared destined for disaster before Fernando Martinez came through with his 2nd sparkling defensive play of the day, picking off the ball and ending the Cardinals threat.

Solid defense and one big hit at the right moment. Some days, that's just all you need. That was all it took for the Mets yesterday. And for Nick Evans, who was clearly good enough to make the team out of spring training, but was left off for a myriad of reasons that are meaningless now, it has to feel very redemptive for him to have been recalled after struggling in the Minors, coming up and hitting well, at least for the last few games. The Mets are dying right now for someone to come in and provide some kind of a spark somewhere in that lineup. It remains to be seen if Evans, who was uneven in his cameo appearances last season, will continue to perform well. My guess is that being recalled would spark his confidence. I don't know. But maybe he'll be that spark we need.

That other team this weekend. I'll be in attendance Sunday Night, for The Biggest Game In The Galaxy, and my first non-plan ticket game at Citi Field.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Save Some Runs!

Last night, the Mets put forth their largest offensive output of the season in support of Fernando Nieve.

This afternoon, as I buzz work in order to see my first Citi Field day game, I, and most of the Mets fans in attendance will have to be asking themselves, "Hey, did you guys save any runs for today?"

This particular question will probably be championed by the champion of poor run support, Johan Santana.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

This Guy Again!?

I don't know what the hell it is about Joel Pineiro, but it seems like every season he sort of just shows up and puts up mediocre numbers year after year, bouncing around from team to team, and generally just sucking it up and filling a roster spot.

That is, until he faces the Mets.


This team is in such piss-poor shape right now I've run out of words to describe it. I think the best I can do is feel fortunate that I'm working through the evening and can't actually watch this stupidity unfold for itself. It beats watching the game with my head in my hands, I'd suppose.

Monday, June 22, 2009

More of the Same

Clearly, June has not been the Mets month. I feel more comfortable saying that than I feel saying 2009 is not the Mets season, which is a phrase I seem to be hearing more and more lately. I'd already declared the Mets season more or less over after this particular pair of games, but when you think about it, didn't most of us do the same thing last year? This season appears to be playing out kind of like 2007 if you think about it, only the roles of the Mets and the Phillies have been reversed. The Mets are sort of a joke at this point, and the Phillies are expected to stampede away without a challenger. But this hasn't happened. Philly has had a lead in the division pretty much throughout the season, and the Mets have just barely been hanging on the fringes, along with a pair of other pain-in-the-ass teams that can't negotiate themselves, Atlanta and Florida. But, here, we've hit June, and it won't stop raining, and the Mets keep losing, and now the Phillies keep losing too. Something, at some point, will have to give, right?

Conventional wisdom would have you believe that the Phillies are going to catch fire again, while you'd be less inclined to think that the Mets have the oomph within themselves to do so. This is a pretty solid argument if you figure that the Mets haven't been able to generate much more than 5 runs a game on any consistent basis, and for some reason, every time they shift a guy into the 8th inning role he automatically becomes Aaron Heilman. But the Phillies have their own issues too. Their bullpen, to this point, looks about as frightening as the 2008 Mets bullpen did, give or take a Joe Smith/Clay Condrey type. Brad Lidge, unhittable last season, has been ineffective and now injured, and his replacement, Ryan Madson, hasn't exactly looked sharp filling in. It's another one of my cockamamie theories, but it seems as though once a team's bullpen gets branded with a particular reputation and struggles on a regular basis, it has a tendency to snowball. Consider the Mets last season. Everyone in the bullpen for the better part of the season was, in and of themselves, a viable Major League talent. But once you blow a game, and then you blow another and another, and it becomes somewhat expected that once the game gets into the bullpen, the whole thing gets kinda dicey, you begin to fall into a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts. It's sort of like saying that the Mets were screwed the second Jerry Manuel emerged from the dugout and waved his hand. Will this happen to the Phillies this year? It remains to be seen. But the patterns are startling.

The Mets haven't been immune to these woes at all. But the pitchers that have struggled all have either righted themselves for an extended period, or at least shown themselves capable of solid performances on a consistent basis. Sean Green was miserable in the early going this season, but he's been great as of late. Parnell has been the opposite, solid start, lousy once he started being used more often. Brian Stokes looks good and bad. Takahashi is filler, at least for now, if you really want my opinion. But all things considered, it hasn't been at all comparable to the nightmare that was last season in the Mets bullpen. Especially when you consider the fact that the Mets can trot out Rodriguez in the 9th inning and he's going to kick you in the nuts and take your lunch money 18 out of 19 times (and I'm not going to count that BS against the Yankees since he did the job he needed to).

But if you can say that the Mets are better than the Phillies, or at least more stable than the Phillies in the bullpen, that's about the only edge you can give the Mets in the matchup. Starting pitching is about even, though the Mets have been injured and inconsistent, and the offense isn't even close. Someone's going to end up making a move and bringing in someone that will throw this comparison decidedly one way or another, and I'm not sure who. Most of the people I listen to think it's going to be the Phillies, since the Mets are running around like a chicken with their heads cut off. Omar has needed to make a move for some time, but I wonder if he's a little too smart to listen to the fans. There's something to be said about the fact that the Mets have fumphered around and looked clueless, yet still lie within striking distance while key players are hurt and they don't hit and lose eminently winnable games. It happens to every team and it can happen in bunches sometimes. Maybe there's something to this. Maybe Omar Minaya is silently buying time for himself, waiting for Reyes and Delgado to return so he can accurately assess what his team really needs instead of being reactionary.

I don't know. The alarm bells were set off a long time ago and the panic has already set in. You wonder just how long the Mets really are able to continue to just get by like this.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Phoning it In

It's the point of the season where I start to fade slowly into the background as far as the Mets are concerned. If you didn't know, I work on a major Theatrical project each Summer that saps most of my time and most of my weekends, and, more importantly, puts most Mets games at simply a rumor level for me. I have no idea what's going on during these games because I never get to see them. The best I can do is steal a moment and try to get a score on my phone. Or I'll get text messages from El Guapo or another of my assorted Mets fan friends who will keep me apprised of the night's happenings.

The best I can assume from basically seeing the final score of the last two games is that not much has changed. Two games, same score, some good, some bad, some indifferent. My infamous co-worker, who isn't involved in the same insanity I am, was feeding me some information to the effect of the following, which may or may not be true:

1) Alex Cora has no range at Shortstop.
2) Daniel Murphy is an idiot because, even though he got 3 dinky hits, he swung at a sucker pitch in the 9th inning and screwed up the game.
3) Jerry Manuel has no clue.

Sometimes, I think it's better off that I miss most of these games. That's not always true, but I suppose the Mets have fallen into a predictable pattern of good, lousy, good, lousy, with very little in between. I may not get to see much of it for myself, but my phone will tell me the truth.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

One Year Later...

So, it's been exactly one year since the 3am Massacre that saw the Mets chop off the head and hack at the limbs of their coaching staff and replace them with the bunch we see today. Given the way things looked for the Mets then and comparing them with things now, it's hard to see too much difference.

Last year, the Mets, to this point in the season, seemed disinterested and lackluster. They were there more often than not, but the results told you everything you needed to know in the end.

This year, has anything changed? Other than the manager and coaches, and assorted players, it's been a whole lot of to do to get to this point in the season in similarly bad shape.

Where do we go from here? Tough to say. Last season, the Mets didn't do anything after letting Randolph go, and under Manuel, they got hot for a month or so before the teams' glaring weaknesses showed themselves.

Do the Mets have a similar hot streak in them once again? Given the sometimes porous nature of the starting rotation and the general inability to drive in runs when necessary, I don't know if an extended win streak is possible. Replacing the Manager, at this point in the season, would be tantamount to admitting to a massive and catastrophic error in judgement by Minaya, and if that were to happen now, Minaya's ouster would be sure to follow. What's besides the point is Manuel, to the best of my knowledge, isn't even on the hot seat (or have the dreaded "leaks" in the Mets system been fixed...). The problem, then, lies with the talent on the field. Much like, despite popular sentiment, it wasn't Willie Randolph's fault that Carlos Delgado couldn't hit and Jose Reyes was a petulant, moody brat, it's not Jerry Manuel's fault that Luis Castillo dropped that popup last Friday, or that John Maine's shoulder locked up, or whatever other injury might have occurred. Last year, I called for Ho-Jo's head and didn't get it. I'll still call for Ho-Jo's head if the team feels a change to the coaching staff is absolutely necessary. In the end, it comes down to the execution of the players, and right now, many of these players should be executed. Rumors are abound. But until any action is taken, it's little more than idle talk.

But, failing everything else, the Mets could always try to fire Willie Randolph again.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Who's Driving This Bus?

The past week for the Mets would have been a mild success had they went 3-3, given the quality of the opponent and the state of the team itself. Though the 2-4 record they posted deserves an asterisk considering how badly they gave one of those games away, it's hard to imagine how those 4 losses could have been much worse, perhaps not so much for the psyche of the team, but for the psyche of the fans.

If nothing else, you have to at least admire the fact that the Mets will not quit. They won't just roll over and die, even with the mounting injuries and the complete lack of consistency they've displayed over the first 2 1/2 months of the season. But this team, no matter how hard they fight and scrape for victories, has proven themselves to be only good enough to get to the precipice and then come up short. And I don't see how this season will play out any different unless some major changes are made. I brought it up after Friday's game and I'll say it again: Every time there's a crucial spot, or a key play or a close call in a game, it seems like it's going against the Mets. Whenever there's a game decided on an error or a balk, it's going against the Mets. Whenever a lead is blown, it's blown by the Mets. And it's happened repeatedly over the course of the season. There are teams that are good and those teams are the teams that catch the breaks. The Mets catch none of the breaks, and that's the sign of a team that just isn't very good. They may well catch fire in July, that's certainly possible. In fact, it's easy to look at where things stood exactly a year ago and you'd see that things weren't that much different. But while the Mets might have caught fire in July last year, we know how it all turned out. Whatever the Mets might be able to pull off, it's only enough to get everyone to believe in them, only to have the rug pulled out from underneath.

There are surprise good performances by no-name pitchers followed up by Aces getting torched. What the hell is going on with this team? Fernando Nieve comes out of nowhere and shuts down the Yankees for 6.2 innings. It's just enough to inspire some confidence in you, especially with Johan Santana pitching on Sunday. But Sunday comes and Johan Santana is a pitch away from getting out of a 2nd inning jam, and then, all of a sudden, Francisco Cervelli hits a dinky little flair that just drops in for an RBI single, and that opens the floodgates for a flogging of insane proportions. I don't understand how or why this happens to the Mets continually, but it does. Jerry Manuel looks half-asleep sometimes, and then gets thrown out of a game when the game is grossly and ridiculously out of control. That's when you argue? That's going to somehow fire up this team? I'm a bit confused as to what sort of logic Manuel follows at times. There's no direction with this team. You have no clue who's driving the bus.

You'd like to think the day off today will allow the Mets to regroup and retool for this week, but I don't know if a day off is what this team needs right now.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Defeat of Metsian Proportion

At this point, I think if anybody came out and said that the Mets don't have it—whatever it is—this season, nobody would argue with him.

It's gotten to the point with the Mets now that they don't just lose, and they don't just find ways to lose, they've truly perfected the art form of losing games in the most excruciating way possible. In fact, they've even managed to perfect winning in the most excruciating way possible, but they're really starting to take the cake with some of these losses.

It wasn't cool when they fiddled away a lead and eventually a game on Wednesday night against the Phillies, and it wasn't fun when Thursday night's game followed the exact same pattern with a different score. But last night's game took the cake. It was bad enough that they blew the lead, and it was bad enough that they lost the game. But combine the manner in which the game ended, combined with the grossly unjustified fate placed upon the pitcher on the mound, and the opponent and the magnitude of the event, multiplied by the color my face turned as a series of obnoxious phone calls and messages began pouring in and that was when I realized that the Mets just pulled off their most Metsian defeat ever.

Consider this perfect storm of circumstances:
  • First game of the season against the Yankees.
  • First game ever in the New Yankee Stadium.
  • Packed house.
  • See-saw game that saw 5 lead changes by the 9th inning.
  • Sloppy game that saw the Mets score 2 runs without a hit in the 3rd.
  • Typical Yankee 3 1/2 hour plus game.
  • Mets take a late lead off Rivera.
  • Mets go into the last of the 9th with their new closer and his unblemished record.
  • Mets are one out away from once again gutting their way to a victory.
And then it All. Fell. Apart.

Can't pin this one on anybody but Castillo, and he's going to have to shoulder this one for a while, no matter what happens from here. Rodriguez gets tagged with one of history's most unjust blown saves, his first of the season. The Mets, well, they remain the Mets, and just gave the fans of the other guys fodder to beat into our heads forever. I know that this isn't the first time something like this has ever happened, but it seems like, the way this year has gone, and last year and the year before that, that it's always happening to the Mets. The Mets are going to continue to play this season out, and they're going to continue to show heart and guts, or at least something resembling that, but they're not winning anything this season. I think it's safe to say that now. The injuries and the inconsistency are proving too much to overcome. They can't get out of their own way, and right now, they're losing games based more on some bad luck and some bad calls rather than being far inferior to their opponent. They're in every game, and they're always right there until the end, which makes it even more frustrating. It's always a bad break that seems to do the Mets in, and that's the sign of a team that's not going anywhere. Winners get those breaks. The Mets always seem to manage to screw them up.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Lost In A Fog

All I can say after subjecting myself to all 10 innings and 3 hours and 3 minutes of the debacle that masqueraded itself as last night's Mets/Phillies game is that it's a DAMN good thing I don't drink at Baseball games. I would have very likely done something ill-advised and regrettable in a more sober moment.

The irony wasn't lost on me that this was the second year in a row I'd been at a Mets game on June 11th. Last year, the game seemed to be mere background to the demeanor of the crowd. The Mets were struggling, the crowd was thin, the opponent was sparse, and the game moved along at a fairly brisk pace...until the late innings where things dissolved for the Mets. But they recovered.

Last night was more or less the same, though the game wasn't quite so much background as it was just a waiting game. But it moved along at a brisk pace, until the late innings, where things dissolved for the Mets. Unlike last year, they did not, and could not recover. They couldn't get out of their own way. Every bad habit they've had all season re-emerged. They didn't tack on runs, they let the Phillies come back, and then the game got away from them, and they couldn't scrape their way back. And, unlike last year, the entire game was played in a thick, thick fog that got progressively heavier and heavier as the game went on, sinking closer and closer to the field that, by the end of the game, you could have thought that the fog would descend completely and swallow the Mets whole. Which is basically how the game played out.

Around midnight, or maybe later, it really started pouring in Manhattan, and I said out loud, "Where the hell was this 6 hours ago? It would have saved me some misery." I was solo this evening, as El Guapo found himself stuck at work and other attempts to find a taker for the extra seat went awry. I might have done better with someone else, if only because of the assertion that misery loves company; sure, the Mets have just lost an excruciating game, but we can at least vent to each other about that. I've never disliked going to games alone, but on nights like this, you're left with nothing to do after the game but stew and walk around with a defiant scowl on my face, silently wishing I could just wrap my hands around the neck of that drunken Philly fan running around the Promenade, waving his hat in everyone's face and screaming that the Mets suck. But, as I said before, there's a very good reason I don't drink at games, and this such instance is a good example.

I didn't feel good about this game from the outset. Between the threat of rain and the fog rolling in and the pitching matchup, things didn't seem to favor the Mets. Sure, the Phillies were starting Jamie Moyer, and the Mets did feed Moyer his lunch last month, but that was May, and Reyes and Delgado were there, and Pelfrey was starting for the Mets, not Tim Redding. I figured that even if the Mets matched the 7 they put up against Moyer last month, it still might not be enough. The crowd seemed sparse and desolate. It looked like one of those nights where the weather would scare everyone off.

I didn't figure that the crowd would immediately fall into place once the game started. I didn't figure that Redding would show up with his A game and basically do absolutely everything you could possibly ask from him over his 7 innings, in which he absolutely pitched his heart out. 7 innings, 6 hits, 3 runs, 0 walks and 6 strikeouts? You'd take that from Redding in a heartbeat. I don't even want to hear about him blowing a 3-1 lead. He didn't blow anything. Even when the Phillies got to Redding, they didn't hit him especially hard, except for Utley's double in the 6th. In the 3rd, it was a pair of bloopers, Rollins' hit in the 6th just sort of fell in, and they scored on a groundout in the 7th.

The problem was that his offense couldn't generate anything other than Luis Castillo getting on base, Alex Cora bunting him over or, failing that, moving him along, and Carlos Beltran driving him in. David Wright had 3 hits and scored no runs. Fernando Tatis had a hit and Fernando Martinez got hit, but no runs. And when the entirety of your offense is generated by station-to-station small ball against a team that can blast you like the Phillies, that's not going to cut it. Once it was tied, and once the game got into the hands of the bullpens, the Mets shut down completely. Nothing against Condrey, nothing against Durbin or Eyre or Madson, when one key hit would have swung the game in their favor.

But the Mets bullpen was up to the challenge of going shot for shot with the Philly relievers. Feliciano came in for the 8th and did what he usually does, get the Philly lefties out. Parnell got through the 9th without much drama. In the 10th, he got Rollins to pop out before Victorino snuck one by him. Parnell left for Ken Takahashi. You still had to feel pretty good. It was really foggy, yes, but the crowd remained spirited and positive. Even after Takahashi walked Utley, it kind of felt like things would be OK. Takahashi came back and struck out Howard, and everybody was up. And then, there was Ibanez. And there was Ibanez lifting a fly ball out towards Right-Center. A golf shot. Martinez ranged back. It looked to me like he had it all the way.

No sweat...

He kept going back.


Oh God...



The mass exodus began immediately after the ball landed in the bullpen. I've seen crowds empty out fast, in fact, exactly one year ago, after the Mets blew the lead in that game, Shea emptied out quick. This was something else. Like everybody who had been sitting out in the mist and the fog just decided that this was it, we're outta here and we're outta here FAST. I was too stunned and angry to move at that point, plus I wasn't leaving early. I stuck it out to the end. And we know, more or less, what happened from there.

As I got outside the stadium, there was a pocket, and they appear to move in pockets, of Philly fans enjoying themselves. I passed two Mets fans walking in an opposite direction. One of them screamed at them, "PHILLIES SUCK!"

His friend pulled him aside and said to him, "Dude, the Phillies won."

That about summed up the evening. What more can be said?

It could be worse, I suppose...

We could be the Yankees.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

You'll Show Us!

For 5 innings last night, the Mets did a pretty good job of making Cole Hamels eat his words.

For the final 6 innings, the Mets did a pretty good job of making Cole Hamels look prophetic.

Though the game early on seemed to be playing out like a Pelfrey/Hamels pitchers duel, the Mets eventually got to Hamels and jumped on him to the tune of 4 runs and 11 hits over 5 innings, getting runners on in every inning, stealing bases, keeping him off balance and basically pinging him to death with a bunch of singles. It was truly beautiful to see, because the Mets were thriving on a pair of extended rallies. All they needed was the haymaker to put the game out of reach and send the crowd into a frenzy.

Didn't happen. Beltran got hosed on a bad call at 1st base to end things in the 4th, the Mets couldn't bring home any more runs in the 5th, and then couldn't get an inch off the Phillies bullpen the rest of the night. It became progressively more and more frustrating as the night drew on, not so much because the Phillies had come back and tied the game, but because it seemed to me that the Mets had the bases loaded or men in scoring position in just about every inning. The Mets basically turned back into the Mets and stopped scoring after the 4th inning, came up with 16 hits and only managed to score 4 runs.

It comes back to that issue of being lucky, and the good teams always get lucky. For the Mets, you knew that once they started to screw up innings over and over, it was just a matter of time before the game got away from them. After 5 innings, things were looking great. Pelfrey was in a rhythm, having recovered from his bad start last time out (and if you'd listened to my boys Benigno and Roberts, you would have thought Pelfrey was the first good pitcher ever to have a bad outing), he was pitching and acting without fear. Hell, he helped himself with his bat just as much as he did on the mound, chipping in with a pair of hits, a run and an RBI. He got in Utley's face in the 6th after Utley stepped out on him mid-windup. He was rolling right along. And all of a sudden it sort of just fell apart on him in the 7th. Beltran probably should have caught Werth's fly ball for starters, and once Wright made his error, the wheels had come off. But the Phillies didn't pass the Mets in that inning, they just caught them. So the Mets still had plenty of time and plenty of juice to push that winning run across.

Try as they might, they couldn't manage it. Just about every reliever the Phillies trotted out there let guys on base and then got out of it. Durbin, Eyre, Romero, even Chan Ho Freakin' Park got through two innings. Both teams were slugging it out and at some point it became apparent that whoever got one more good break was going to end up winning the game. And the longer things went, the more excruciating it got. Tatis made a huge play on Rollins' liner in the 10th. But when Werth made a Swoboda-like dive to rob Wright of what would have been a certain game-winning double in the last of the 10th, I knew the Mets were screwed. I stepped away from the TV for a brief moment and it seemed almost too perfect . The situation was rife for disaster. By the time I came back, Utley had already hit his 2nd HR and the Phillies had the game. You could see it coming a mile away.

So, tonight, a rubber game in between the raindrops (at least that's how it looks right now). I'll be there tonight. I wasn't especially thrilled to draw a Tim Redding start, but then again, the Phillies are starting Jamie Moyer, who I saw the Mets beat up on but good last month. So far this week, the Mets won on Tuesday, which was the 10th Anniversary of one of my favorite Shea Games. Tonight is the one-year Anniversary of one of the more bizarre evenings I'd ever spent at Shea. It's also Jose Reyes' Birthday, his 26th, though he's spending it on the DL. Hopefully, the Mets will celebrate his birthday this year the same way they did last year.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

We'll Show You!

For some reason, it seems like the Mets have this annoying habit of playing to the abilities of their opponents. When they were playing Washington and Pittsburgh, they looked lifeless and bored. Now that they're playing the Phillies, everyone's awake and aware and fired up.

It helps when you've got your ace on the mound and what was the most spirited crowd I'd heard all season at Citi Field behind you, but when things were looking bleak for the Mets, they got off the mat, fired back and came away with a steely, albeit harrowing 6-5 victory in the series opener.

Not that it was easy by any stretch. You couldn't help but fear the worst as the game began, even with Santana on the mound. Last time out, Santana didn't pitch badly but for one inning, and that was enough for the game to get away from him because the Mets didn't hit.

Last night, the Mets hit.

It's not a stretch to say that for whatever the Mets are meant to do this season, they will have to be led, offensively, by Wright and Beltran. Though Wright has run hot and cold, it's been more hot than cold over the past 6 weeks or so. But what's been lacking has been power. Not that it's been noticible; Wright has been hitting with a ferocious consistency, and driving the ball all over the place that it was only recently that eyes perked up and people started to chirp about the fact that it was June and Wright had only hit 3 HRs. Wisely, Wright has changed his approach at the plate to tailor himself to his environs. Wright previously had a tendency to muscle up and pull the ball for HRs, when his natural swing would drive the ball to right-center. But the ball won't fly out that way. Wright can still pull the ball when he needs to, but for the most part, he's just been spraying the ball over the field. The result is that, though Wright's HR numbers are way down, he's hitting .340. It's a simple tradeoff. Hit the HRs and bat .290, or screw it and hit for average. This was the Keith Hernandez method of hitting, and it served him well enough for a number of years. So, when Wright took a pitch from Muppet-Faced Rookie J.A. Happ and pulled it over the left field wall, it was his first HR in 100 ABs, dating back over a month to the last game the Mets and Phillies had played.

On the other side is Beltran, who has been on a ferocious tear all season, also running at a .340 clip. His power numbers are about average, at least for him, and we all know his power streaks come in major bursts, one of which he's hopefully about due for.

Either way, the two HRs from those key players served as the keynote for the evening, staking the Mets to a 3-0 lead.

Of course, you knew the Phillies would fire back. Even against Santana. First, it was Howard. Then Ibanez. Then, in the 6th, it was Jimmy Rollins, who popped one out and made sure everyone in attendance knew who hit it, shushing the crowd as he walked off the field. Would you expect any less from Rollins? No, I didn't think so.

So, rather shockingly, the game had gone from great to another Mets-Phillies nailbiter. But it was the Mets firing right back, aided mainly by the bat of Santana, who eschewed an 0-2 bunt attempt and instead swung away and nailed an RBI double to re-knot the game at 4, and extending a rally that would eventually see the Mets take the lead, 5-4. Ryan Church hit a long HR in the 7th into the apple, and once again, all seemed right with the world.

That is, until the 8th, when Chase Utley tucked one just inside the right field foul pole. This was followed by Santana storming around the mound and screaming at his manager before being removed from the game. There's been a bit of talk about this, and I don't see what the big deal is. Is Santana showing up his manager? Who cares? More than likely, Santana had thrown 91 pitches, given up 4 HRs, was pissed off about that and still had plenty of gas left and wanted to stay in the game. He's the ace. He's the leader. He should want to stay in the game. Would you rather he sheepishly shrugged his shoulders and walked off, defeated? Hell No. The man is a gamer. He's got more balls than just about the remainder of his teammates combined, and last year he threw a complete game shutout in a must-win game on one leg. Far as I'm concerned, he can yell all he wants.

Jerry Manuel, clearly, felt differently.

No matter, though. Parnell gave up a hit and departed for Feliciano, who did what he's made a very good habit of doing this season, which is making the lefties in the Philly lineup look silly. The rest of the game was placed in the rather capable hands of the gentleman in the photo on your right. And, with that, the Mets win a game that they absolutely had to win, beat a team that they absolutely have to beat if they want to go anywhere this season, and send what was a raucous, October-like crowd home happy. At least for one night.

Tonight, it will be just as intense, particularly if you take tonight's starter for the Phillies into consideration. It's nice that Cole Hamels has decided to show his face against the Mets this time around, and in New York no less. During the offseason, Carlos Beltran said that Hamels must be watched every time he pitches against the Mets. Well, here's hoping they're watching him tonight. And doing the same kinds of things they did to him last season.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Difficult Proposition

The Mets winning two of three in Washington over the weekend only makes me feel slightly better about the team as they enter the stretch that will more than likely define their season.

While it is only June 8th, and while there is an awful lot of season left, the Mets as a whole have to make you severely concerned about just where, exactly, they think they're going this season. In a stretch of 13 games against lowly opponents, the Mets should have gone 10-3. Instead, they stopped hitting, fumphered around for a week, picked up a rainout and managed to go 7-5. This includes a 2-4 road trip to Pittsburgh and Washington, two of the worst teams conceivable, and two teams that, no matter what Adam LaRoche may think, the Mets should have pounded.

Given that, this week alone, the Mets will be playing 6 games against two teams that they're going to have to outslug in order to win against, you can't feel all that confident about the team's chances.

The games over the weekend were a blur, at least to me. I've been dealing with assorted work-related nonsense and so I just barely had a chance to grok what was going on. I did catch most of Friday's game on the radio, but Saturday and Sunday pretty much happened behind my back. And given the way Saturday's game went, I didn't miss all that much. The Nationals appear to be a team that is more of a nuisance than a real threat. Their pitching staff seems to exemplify this. They have a bunch of pitchers who just don't look good, and who don't strike fear into your hearts. But every so often, they'll pitch a good game. Generally, it's against the Mets. The Mets will see themselves getting shut down by Shairon Martis or John Lannan. Usually it's a week or two after the Mets will paste them in a big victory, which makes it all the more annoying. It's been going on for a few years now, and I don't see it changing. But enough of the Nationals.

It's the Phillies and the Yankees we have to worry about this week, a pair of mashing first-place teams that, as I just said, the Mets are going to have to outhit in order to beat. Either that or the starters are going to have to become unconscious over the next 6 games. It's not impossible. Nothing's impossible. That's why they play the games. But if you look at the way the Mets have played over the course of the season, and particularly the past week, and you see that with the injuries and the inconsistency, putting together any kind of streak is a dicey proposition, you're not feeling very good about these next 6 games.

We'll see how this turns out.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Horror...The Horror...

When Carlos Beltran speaks his mind, it gets people's attention. More often than not, he's 100% on the money.

Beltran's postgame statements this afternoon, calling out the Mets as an Embarrassment is, rather sadly, the truth right now. The Mets left town on Sunday looking pretty good, sitting at 28-21, right down the Phillies' necks in the standings. Three lifeless, miserable games later, the Mets are in complete and total disarray. I guess you can consider last night's rainout a blessing in disguise, because it's more than likely the Mets would have lost that game as well.

It's absolutely baffling the way the Mets run. They go from hot to cold, players seem to get injured on a regular basis, injuries are understated, injuries are kept under wraps, guys get stomach viruses and miss a week, injured players are flown cross-country, guys replacing injured guys get injured...It never stops with this team. Two weeks ago, Jose Reyes was day-to-day. Now, with the revelation that he's got a hamstring tear, we're looking at him possibly being out the rest of the season!

It's very easy to knock the Mets fan while they're down, and right now, it's very easy to be down on the Mets. But just examine the way the past month or so has played out for the Mets, between the hot streak, all these players getting injured at once, injuries suddenly getting much worse than they originally appeared, Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya talking really quickly and not saying anything...Only the Mets. That's all you can say. This only happens to the Mets. And I'm not quite sure how or why this happens, but it does. Only to the Mets.

The collective Karma around this team right now is so putrid that it wouldn't surprise me at all if the Mets go into Yankee Stadium next weekend and get swept by a combined score of 44-3. The fans would probably commit ritual suicide off the 59th Street Bridge. El Guapo and I will probably end up shooting Maker's Mark by the bottle. But one good thing would probably happen: heads would finally start to roll.

A lot of times, the coaching staff has this safety net of the fact that their players need to execute, but you have to really be concerned about the general lack of fundamentals this team exhibits most of the time. I'm not sure how often it's happened this season, but it seems like it's just about a daily occurrence that Razor Shines has gotten a runner thrown out at home plate. I'll paraphrase an old Bill Simmons joke about former Boston 3rd base coach Dale Sveum, but if Razor Shines was a school crossing guard, kids would be getting pancaked all over Central Park West. Ho-Jo remains mostly clueless; nobody seems to point any fingers at him because he's a "True Met," but considering the way David Wright has run in and out of hot streaks, and Reyes getting homer happy, and players like Church, Murphy and Castillo being inconsistent, does he actually work with these guys, or does he just stand in the dugout in his shades doing his best Art Howe impression? I'd axe these two first, just to get the ball rolling.

Then, we have the guys at the top. Manuel is homing in on a year as the team's manager, and he's basically been no better or worse than he was last season, except that half his roster is on the DL and the other half has a difficult time picking up the slack. His in-game moves continue to often be baffling, and he's still way too by-the-book. He also gives you just an unsettling enough impression that the patients are running the asylum.

Then, there's Omar, the head of the clown car. Somehow, without any fanfare, Pittsburgh dealt their best player to Atlanta for some meager Minor Leaguers right under the Mets nose. And what I wondered more than anything else was why wasn't Omar on the horn making a deal for Nate McLouth? People seem far too consumed with the Mets need for pitching, but, as the case has been so often in the past, pitching isn't the problem here. Yes, Pelfrey was rather awful this afternoon, but he's also been flat-out excellent for a month prior to this, without a victory to show for it. Santana wasn't great the other night, but whether he finished the game or not, the Mets still weren't winning. Why? BECAUSE THE METS DON'T GENERATE ENOUGH OFFENSE! Nobody, or at least nobody who talks about the Mets in a public arena seems to realize this. You can bring in whatever stud pitcher you want. The Mets will just lose games 2-1 instead of 3-1. THE METS NEED ANOTHER BAT! It doesn't matter where he plays, just get someone. But whenever Omar makes an in-season deal like this, it's always for a guy who's not quite good enough to fill the gap he's supposed to fill. Atlanta goes out and trades with Pittsburgh for Nate McLouth. Omar will go out and trade with Pittsburgh for Craig Monroe. That's not going to cut it. The M.O. for the Mets the last two seasons has been a day late and a dollar short. I'm really starting to get tired of the act.

The Mets are going to Washington this weekend, to play a Nationals team that right now stands at 14-38, on pace to post 43.6 wins this season. The Mets themselves just got swept by a Pirates team that is just slightly better than the Nationals. I have a really bad feeling about just how embarrassing things are going to get for this team.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Troubles

Johan Santana didn't pitch especially badly last night. He looked great early, and got tagged for a few runs in the 5th and 6th innings. No matter. 6 innings, 3 runs, followed up by solid performances from Green, Takahashi and Stokes? Shouldn't be a problem for the Mets to offset 3 runs by the Pirates, right?


For the second night in a row, the Mets basically stood around and drooled on themselves while the Pirates ran past them. In response to the Pirates 3 runs, the Mets struck back with an 8 hit attack that generated all of 1 run.

After the game, people had the audacity to complain about Santana coming out of the game after 6 innings and 85 pitches, while in Toronto, Roy Halladay threw a 133-pitch complete game in which he gave up 4 runs. I suppose you can blame Santana for this loss, after all, he's supposed to be totally unhittable and throw a perfect game every time out, right? How dare he give up 3 runs to the meager Pirates? I'll fill everyone who has a problem with Santana's outing last night in. If Santana stayed in the game and pitched the 7th and 8th innings, the final score of last night's game would still have been Pirates 3, Mets 1. Because as great as Santana is on the mound, the one thing he can't do is make his offense score any runs.

The problem with the Mets seems to be a problem I've been talking about for as long as I've been writing this blog. The Mets have this annoying habit of going through extended stretches where they never generate any offense. Last night they weren't helped by Razor Shines getting yet another runner thrown out at Home Plate, and they followed that up by basically letting Zach Duke walk all over them for the rest of the night. I know that now, most of this is a side effect of missing Beltran, Reyes, Church and Delgado, and that once they come back, things should be better, but if they come back and still can't score any runs, much like they did early in the season when they were healthy, teams like Philly and the Yankees are going to feed the Mets their lunch. It's not going to be pretty. The Mets will have to generate at least 10 runs a game to compete with the Yankees in their new Wind Tunnel, and right now, I'm not totally sure that they'll generate 10 runs this week.

It's tough, particularly when guys keep getting injured repeatedly for the Mets, but making a big deal over losing Ramon Martinez does not compute. Last season, the Mets got 159 games or more out of Reyes, Wright, Beltran and Delgado, and they couldn't get over the top. Obviously, this season that's not going to happen, but the contingency plan so far seems to have been to just throw our hands up in the air and hope for the best.

The best, right now, looks like a 3rd or 4th place finish, unfortunately.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I'm giving him the New York pronunciation of his name today, as the rest of us probably should as well.

It seems like the Mets and Pirates play a game like this just about every season, where the Mets blast out to an early lead of 4 or 5 runs by about the 3rd inning, and then they just stop, which as we all know they have a habit of doing, and in the meantime the game is just coasting along, and the Pirates get a run here, and a run there, and then it's a 2-run game, and then it's the late innings and all of a sudden the Mets pitchers become incapable of getting any of the Pirates hitters out, like they've turned into some kind of annoying, singles-hitters version of the 1984 Tigers or something like that.

It's three years in a row now that the Mets have played a game like this against the Pirates, and the subsequent results generally have not been very good. Oh, sure, the Mets can rebound from a loss like this, they certainly won't lose 4 to the Pirates, and maybe they'll even go into Washington and win 2 of 3 or sweep, but at some point, it will crop up again, and it'll happen at a really bad moment, like, say, the upcoming stretch where the Mets are playing Philly or the Yankees. In fact, looking into the archives, you'll notice that each time the Mets blew one of these games against the Pirates, they immediately went to Washington and played well. Of course, in '07 it was the last game of the series, and last year's game was a rainout makeup on a forgettable Monday afternoon at Shea. But games like this set a precedent. I mentioned it enough times to make myself and every other Mets fan sick late last season. It should be different this year, and for the most part, it has been. But you see games like this and it's a bit of an acid flashback of sorts. The names are, for the most part, different, be it because of the myriad injuries on offense or the radical revamping of the bullpen, but when the result remains the same, it makes you more than just a little nervous.

This argument, I suppose, can be rebuffed by the fact that the Mets were playing with all of 4 players that were in the Opening Day lineup last night, and one of them already missed about a month with an injury, and another is playing a different position because of an injury to the incumbent. The Mets, because of all these injuries, have been, basically, treading water and surviving, particularly this past week, because of great pitching and subpar opponents. The offense hasn't generated more than 5 runs in a game in several weeks now, or at least it seems that way. The Mets have all of 33 Home Runs as a collective team. This isn't last in the NL, surprisingly, both the Giants and Pirates have fewer, but then again, you expect those teams to be at the bottom. Not the Mets. It's the hope that, as time passes and these injuries heal, the Mets will start to hit a bit more and not essentially force their pitching staff to be quite so perfect all the time.

In the meantime, the concern shifts to J.J. Putz, who is one of those new faces in the Bullpen, but last night, and for a few games now has done a fairly good job of impersonating one of those guys that was in the bullpen last season. You can't put all of the blame for last night on him, but I think it's safe to say that you can put the brunt of it on him. Whether it's mechanics or the elbow issue that was bothering him on the West Coast, something's not right with him right now, and last night it reared its ugly head at the worst possible moment. Late in the game, men on base, you expect Putz to come in and shut it down, and instead he massacred the game. Not so good.

You wonder just how long the Mets can survive with their roster in the shape it's in. Santana tonight.


The Mets probably could have used the extra arm in the bullpen last night...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Grabbing a Toehold

It's beginning to border on ridiculous, the amount of injuries and illnesses and bizarre ailments that continue to afflict the Mets on what seems to be almost a daily basis.

Fortunately, the team, which has seen the offensive firepower quite literally cut out from under itself, has been able to survive based on a continued string of solid outings from their starters, plus a clutch offensive performance here and there to push whatever meager runs the team scores across the plate. For the 3 game series the Mets just completed against the Marlins, the Mets scored a grand total of 8 runs. And it seemed like the 8 was a struggle. I've had this long-winded and continuous discussion with my infamous co-worker about the Mets offense and how terrible it's been. The arguments he makes, which tend to be bellowed at about 740db, consist of how Manuel is an idiot for continuing to start the guys he starts and how, eventually, the offense will be so bad that it will completely demoralize the pitching staff and they'll give up. Bear in mind that he said this following the Mets winning 2 of 3 in Boston.

It's true that the offense has been patently awful for the most part, especially with Reyes and Delgado out. Aside from one-game explosions, guys like Murphy haven't been so hot as well. Even Wright has come back to earth. What little offense that can be generated seems to be coming from Sheffield, who's looked great, but can't do it alone, and Santos, and while Santos' production was enough to make Castro expendable, you have no idea how long this will last for him.

On the other side, the pitching has been carrying the team, and this is even with a 5th starter masquerading as a 4th starter and another 5th starter who displays all the consistency of Steve Trachsel. True, you don't know how long their collective success will last, and if they don't score, it makes for a lot of those annoying 2-1 losses that piss everyone off. But I don't think Santana, Maine and Pelfrey are going to suddenly become demoralized and pitch badly. You can't account for the competitive fire suddenly vanishing, and I don't think that happens with most professional athletes, and certainly not on guys who put enough internal pressure on themselves to succeed on a regular basis. But it's those 3 right now that are running the show, Santana, who has a tendency to look good even on his worst nights, Pelfrey, who over the past month has very quietly started to turn into one of the best starters in the National League, and Maine, who has been solid just about every time out.

Friday and Sunday, two of those guys were key in putting the Mets in line for a pair of low-scoring, late inning victories. It took until the 11th inning on Friday night, and it took Sheffield pushing the envelope and making the Marlins make a mistake for the Mets to finally push the winning run across. Sunday, it was Maine simply holding the line and keeping the Marlins in check just long enough for the Mets to string a pair of slight rallies together and then stifle a Marlin rally late to hang on for the victory. Saturday's game was a different story, and one that seemed to draw the ire of many Mets fans who were in attendance based on the B-lineup Jerry Manuel threw out there. Perhaps it's frustrating to watch a game like that, but it was bound to happen sooner or later, and the people that are really upset are losing sight of the larger picture: That was the only game the Mets lost this week, and it was basically a giveaway game. Right now, the Mets are beating the teams that they're supposed to be beating. They're 5-1 in the middle of a 13-game stretch against some poor competition that will continue this week in Pittsburgh and Washington.

This 13-game stretch is especially important for the Mets when you look at the 28 games that follow, starting on June 9th. Here's what the Mets will be looking at:
3 vs Philadelphia
3 @ Yankees
3 @ Baltimore
3 vs Tampa Bay
4 vs St. Louis
3 vs Yankees
3 @ Milwaukee
3 @ Philadelphia
3 vs Los Angeles

These 28 games take the Mets, basically, to the All Star Break. It's safe to say that the Mets will need to get some of their injured players back and start to generate a little more offense if they expect to survive this particular stretch.