And so it goes. The Mets have played their way out of postseason baseball in 2007.
Today's game was ultimately meaningless. We lost 8-1 to the lowly Marlins. But this defeat is not the reason the Mets season is over.
You have to look beyond today. A study of September gives you a glimpse at our downfall. The Phillies sweeps. The National routs. The Cardinals flying in for a one-game stomp at Shea.
Then consider the whole season...hard to do since it's only a few hours dead. Wright and Delgado's wobbly starts. The June swoon. The incessant injuries. The Mets didn't dominate the NL East this year: they maintained first place until someone finally got hot. Unfortunately, the hot team in our division plays 90 miles south of New York and will be playing meaningful baseball this October.
I've been listening to the FAN and perusing the blogs since the last out tonight. Everyone has an opinion on who to blame for the Mets historic collapse.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I know exactly why the Mets failed so miserably this year. But I am not sharing my scoop tonight. You'll have to wait to know the truth.
For now, lets just recap who the fans and the media are blaming as our long winter of discontent begins:
Willie Randolph. I have been called a Randolph apologist within the virtual halls of Loge13. No question: he mismanaged down the stretch. Especially when it came to the bullpen. Willie also stayed too loyal to guys like LoDuca and Green, granting them starts when they clearly are hurting or slumping. Meanwhile, his young players (Reyes, Milledge) continue to show immaturity on the field and off. Reyes seemed to regress the past two months, not running out balls and hitting everything in the air. The manager needs to take charge in that situation. Does he ultimately take the fall?
Omar Minaya: Hasn't pulled the trigger on a big deal in some time. No slick offseason moves before 2007. No bullpen help secured at the midseason trading deadline, when the relief corp badly needed to be solidified. I was bummed when he let Chad Bradford and Darren Oliver go last year. Mota and Schoenewies were lame substitutes. And who else did he bring in to bolster our bullpen? Lets try Aaron Sele, Ambiorix Burgos, Jason Vargas, Chan Ho Park, etc. If Joe Smith hadn't had such a surprise first half, we might not even have secured second place.
Jose Reyes: His batting average dropped almost 35 points the last eight weeks of the season. He stopped running out ground balls and started running at every opportunity when on base...no matter the situation or who was hitting. His suddenly selfish style of play was reminiscent of our new first base coach Rickey Henderson, who joined the team just before Reyes' second-half spiral. Hmmm.
Tom Glavine: Today's start was terrible. The first time since 1989 that Glavine was knocked out of a game in the first inning. In fact his last three starts were awful. If he could have pitched just one dominant outing in the stretch, things might be different tonight. I switched to the Braves/Astros game on TBS during Sunday's debacle. Those announcers were stunned at Glavine's collapse and called him an old man. Do we need a 42-year-old ace in 2008?
Paul Lo Duca: If there is any disharmony on this team, Lo Duca gets the blame...deservedly or not. His comment to the media in the midsummer that "other guys in the locker room speak English besides me" could have revealed some tension amongst the players. Ron Darling also alluded to some clubhouse issues during his season postmortem today. That stuff is impossible for us outsiders to quantify. But there's no denying that Lo Duca's productivity fell off in 2007. Do we need a 36-year-old catcher with a 42-year-old body in 2008?
Carlos Delgado: 38 HR, 114 RBI's in 2006. 24 HR's and 87 RBI's in 2007. He went from being our cleanup hitter to batting 6th. He broke his hand today too so who knows what shape he's in for 2008.
There's plenty more blame going around within the Metsmophere. I'm done thinking about it for awhile. If there are other folks you'd like to blame, let me know. I'll post the correct answer on who is actually responsible for the 2007 Mets collapse later on this week.
Meanwhile this poll question on the Metsradamus site sums it all up for me:
Describe your thoughts at this moment:
- M***er F***er!
The Mets one-day trip to second place is over.
We won today. The Phillies lost. The Mets are tied for first with one game remaining.
Forget the past month.
Forget the losing streaks.
Forget the two seven-game leads.
Forget being swept twice by the Phillies.
None of that matters. At all.
What matters is the Mets have momentum. The Phillies played and managed Saturday like this was the game of the season. Now it comes down to this: whichever one of these teams loses next, goes home. Meanwhile the Padres just lost so the wild card is still in the mix as well.
The Mets showed some heart today. John Maine pitched 7 2/3 innings of no-hit ball. He struck out 14. He did his job.
This team also showed some fight today. Benches cleared. Miguel Olivo swang and missed at Reyes (Doesn’t Olivo know Reyes has been hitless lately?) The Mets even came to the park early and took extra batting practice. It paid off with a 13–0 shutout and 19 hits. Including 2 Milledge home runs and a Castro homer. Lets keep those guys in the lineup tomorrow, Willie.
So it’s Glavine/Willis tomorrow, 1:10. This may be Glavine’s final game ever. You better believe he will pitch that way. Could this be Dontrelle’s last game as a Marlin? Or before he wears a Met uniform? Who cares. Forget Willis’ record against us. Forget everything. Just beat the Marlins Sunday!
On September 28, 2008 – 365 days from today – The Mets are scheduled to play their last regular season game ever at Shea Stadium.
Unless there is a 2008 post season for the Mets (lets not go there), that means the last baseball game ever at Shea is now just one year away.
There will be no stay of execution. No miracle cure. Our beloved concrete monument to Met history will be shuttered forever (well, after a Billy Joel concert. Go figure.)
It might seem as if Shea is imploding right now. But Bill Shea, Robert Moses and the gang built this place to last. If Shea could survive a Grand Funk Railroad concert, it can survive anything.
Newsday had a good article today about The Polo Grounds (Baseball Giants all but gone in NYC memory). Essentially the article laments the fact that, unlike the Brooklyn Dodgers who are memorialized in statues, movies and pale ales, there is hardly a mention of the New York Giants anywhere. The Polo Grounds are just a bunch of apartment buildings now.
In 20 years, when you’re parking over the Shea Stadium home plate marker in the Citi Field parking lot, will you even care that you’re on hallowed ground? The place where The Beatles, The Stones and The Who played? Where Seaver came of age? Where Andre the Giant almost murdered Chuck Wepner?
Answer: you won’t. Because at the 43,00 seat Citi Field, you probably won’t get in. Unless you buy a season ticket or luxury box and can afford the $25 parking fee to plop your wheels over Shea’s home plate.
So let the countdown begin. 365 days to perhaps the last Met game ever at Shea Stadium. Long live Shea.