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It still hasn't sunk in.

Maybe it's because my views on individual teams within a sport have changed over the years, making me a fan of the particular sport first and a fan of the team second. Maybe it's the fact that I haven't been personally involved in this past weekend, because my girlfriend takes priority over just about everything in my life. Maybe it's because I'm getting older, and think a lot of my fellow fans - both old and new - are twits. Maybe it's the fact that I see right past the over-dramatization currently being performed by the media. I don't know what it is.

But I simply could not muster the sense of doom and gloom that is surely permeating my fellow Mets fans following an epic collapse.

I think part of it is separation from it. After all, the past couple weeks, as the GB column next to "Phillies" got smaller and smaller, I could only look and go "this can't be happening...". As the errors piled up, after cursing how a group of professionals could start looking like my Little League teams from years past, I could only go "this can't be happening...", and finally, as the Phillies - a team that scared me in the beginning of the year - finally overtook the Mets in the standings, I not only said the above, but I got a feeling of denial about it, like the Mets would pull through, simply because they were too good not to.

And they are, really. They were easily the most talented team in the NL this year, and even though their bullpen wasn't what it was last year (too many parts were deemed interchangeable that weren't), I felt their talent would still carry the day, especially against a woeful Marlins team, especially after a 13-0 slaughter the night before, a game I even briefly turned on while Maine was flirting with a no-hitter.

Sunday, during the Mets game, I played video games with Aileen; I didn't even think about the game. Call me pussy-whipped, but the Mets aren't as cuddly, don't look nearly as good in a nightie, and probably aren't very interested in Suikoden, so they lose. I didn't even realize it had happened until I went on ESPN.com, and let out an audible "Oh God..." as I saw, on the front page, a picture of the Phillies celebrating, and the Mets dejected. Then again, considering the general disinterest I saw from the team, I'm surprised they didn't just look like they were watching a boring movie, because they really couldn't have fucking cared less.

Even after all of this, I couldn't muster the same despair that most of my fellow fans have let loose; fans were crying at Shea, and the drive home from Massachusetts was interesting only in the voracity of what the fans were saying. You name it (Fire Minaya! Fire Willy! Bar Glavine from the Hall! Lynch Reyes! Run Petersen out! Let's boo Bobby Bonilla for old times sake!), and I'm worried someone's going to have to talk punksteriot off of a roof at this point. I do have some opinions about this, but if I could have gotten through to WFAN that night, I would have been the voice of reason screaming "RELAX!"

If anything, I think it will hit me tonight, as I look at my TV and unconciously scream "WHY THE FUCK AREN'T THE METS HOSTING THE ROCKIES!?". The Playoffs have been an assumption since May, even though I wasn't fooled that the Mets had the arms to make it all the way.

However, I find it comical how the media has reacted to it. "WORST COLLAPSE EVER!" is a misnomer; for one, the Phillies in 1964 were 6 1/2 up with 12 to play; that's more significant than "7 with 17 to play", though "WORST EVER" does have a better ring to it for selling papers than "THIRD WORST EVER!". Because as bad as the Phillies and Mets were, when I think "HISTORIC COLLAPSE", I think of the 1978 Red Sox.

That said, I do have opinions as to what my team needs to do to recover from this:

1) They've announced that they're keeping Willy. Good move; I'm not one of those guys that says "he needs to have FIRE!", because this is a veteran team, and "FIRE!" doesn't always work. That also said, we don't know what he says to these guys privately.

2) There has been a lot said about the coaching staff. This is how it should work: if Willy is the manager, he needs to decide the coaching staff. Having Henderson and HoJo brought in under his nose was a slap to his face.

3) Having my closer say "man, better he took that pressure than me!" about any other pitcher, and openly discussing next year's retirement in August, doesn't give me a warm and fuzzy, certainly doesn't do much for his teammates, and has the fans about ready for a lynch mob. It might be time to ask Mr. Wagner to leave.

4) Paul Lo Duca is up to be re-signed. That's all well and good, but to me, it appears that Ramon Castro is cheaper AND better behind the plate. He's not as good a contact hitter as Paul, and can't hit second, but he has better power. So I say let's save some money and bid Paul adieu.

5) I would seriously question the players on the quality of Rick Petersen. The things Heath Bell said when he left stick with me, and I get the idea that he's horrifically overrated by his reputation in Oakland.

6) This is obvious, but the rotation and bullpen both need help, especially with Glavine likely retiring (and no, I'm not in "I don't want to see him again!" mode, it's not like he decided "you know, I just want to quit" on Sunday, and he's been gold for us), but the sad thing is that the Mets had the help for the bullpen in 2006, they just didn't keep them. Too many times this season, I went "you know, I'd love to have Darren Oliver right now" or "Chad Bradford would REALLY look good in this situation...", and finally, "I really wish Duaner Sanchez didn't get hurt..." (BTW: Bradford and Oliver had great years in the more offensively minded American League). Meanwhile, we're trotting out Scott Schoenweis? He shouldn't be in Kansas City's bullpen, much less a divisional favourite! And while I wanted to see how Mota did after his suspension, I have to admit at least once to saying "OK, can someone send some shit to his house?!"

In all... all I can say is what Blacken constantly PMed me to say: lolmets. That's the saying of the end of our year; fuck "Your Season Has Come". It's "lolmets"

EDIT: One final reminder to everyone: If the Phillies had played even .500 ball to start the year... we wouldn't be discussing this. They'd have clinched before the Red Sox and Cubs.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 3rd, 2007 05:03 am (UTC)
I'm off the ledge. In a weird way this year wasn't as bad as last year, because it took weeks to blow it. Last year was one swashing blow, like a knife to the kidney, all at once. This year was more like repeatedly hitting your head into the wall. The really bad part was gaining a game on Saturday, which sort of reeled me back in and undid a lot of the preparing to let go of the season.

A buddy who is a Yankees fan wrote on my Facebook wall on Friday, saying "You must be dying inside right now." I responded with this sort of awkward comparison. Do you remember the 2004 ALCS, and how after the Sox won Game 5 to send it back to NY, the prevailing feeling among Yankee fans was, "Well that's cute that they're making a go of it, and I guess it's not impossible that we blow it. I suppose I could see us losing this whole thing. But come on. We'll be fine." Then the Red Sox won Game 6, the bloody sock game, and then among Yankee fans it immediately became, "Oh my god, holy shit, we're going to lose this thing. We suddenly have no chance." That post-Game 5 feeling is basically where I was from the mid-August sweep at Philly through most of September, even up to where they swept us at Shea. And then losing those two games at Washington where we led by 4 runs in both, that was where it switched, and despite still being in control we immediately became the underdog to me.

I'm still not really sure I believe it. Playoffs have been a foregone conclusion all year, as you said. What does this mean for next year? Do they "own" us now? Are we going to win less than 90 games again? Going into 2006, the feeling of the NL East was "Mets are good, but it's all Atlanta until someone proves otherwise." Into 2007, it was "the Mets are the class of the group, with the Phils and Braves a half-step behind." So what about 08? Will it be "Phils should repeat, the Mets are a mess?" Or like, "Phils are fat and happy from overachieving 2007 and the Mets are pissed and ready to roll?"

Anyway, I'll go point by point on your thoughts on the team:

1. I don't think Willie deserves to lose his job. But I really think the stench of the 07 collapse will hang over the team for as long as this general group of Mets are together. You can't fire 10 players, so the one change that can get rid of that stench would be to change managers. I'm not really unhappy that he's back, but I wouldn't be unhappy if he was gone. I just generally think something HAS TO change, even if it's an impact-less cosmetic change, to make sure 2008 doesn't feel like a continuation of 2007.

2. Omar said on FAN today that HoJo was Willie's guy, for what it's worth. I'm somewhat indifferent to this issue in general. Rickey's role is essentially to be a special instructor to a handful of young players, and the first base coach thing is sort of just an excuse to have him around the team. I think the team really misses Manny Acta, who filled Rickey's role last year, in a different way.

I've always been a huge Acta fan, and my interpretation last year was that Willie was like the company boss that sort of goes around the office and does things in a macro way, but wasn't the guy that any individual players worked with closely. Acta (for the younger players) and Jerry Manuel (for the veterans) were like the coompany VPs that actually worked closely with those under them. This year, Manuel had to be that guy for the entire team, which spread him too thin, and as a result we saw a ton of up and down: Early on, Wright and Delgado were struggling badly. They got worked with, and turned it around (well in Delgado's case turned it around a tiny bit), but then we brought up Gomez and Manuel had to work a lot with him. Then Reyes and Green crashed. Then when they started to stabilize, it was Beltran that fell off. It's almost like a game of Madden, where you have 20 hours per week of practice to use on whatever part of the team you want. And the Mets each week would throw all 20 hours at the one guy who was really struggling, and as a result the other parts of the team suffered at the time.

More to comment in another comment; apparently this comment is shattering LJ's character limit.
Oct. 3rd, 2007 05:03 am (UTC)
3. Billy talks a lot. That's just the way he is. It's not that I give him a pass, but he's a bullpen guy so in a clubhouse sense he's barely even part of the team. I feel like his performance is a lot more important.

4. Castro is a GREAT part-time player, but he struggles whenever he get regular playing time, and he's injury-prone. I wouldn't want to plan on having him as the starter. I wouldn't be opposed to getting some other catcher and basically splitting time 50/50 or thereabouts with Castro, but I have a really hard time with relying on him as an everyday player.

5. Peterson gets some of that Billy Beane backlash, which is ironic because they worked together in Oakland but they are so amazingly different in approach. Peterson gets the "genius" tag from overzealous supporters, and when he has un-genius-like moments his doubters notice it even more. But he's not a genius, just a good communicator with good ideas who has a history of success.

Is his reputation based only on the Big 3 from Oakland? Maine, Heilman and Perez were all washed-out nonprospects when Peterson got a hold of them. They were all "he once had a world of potential but he's basically shown he can't be successful in the majors" guys, and he got them to alter their styles slightly but not totally rebuild them, and it worked. Think about all the other guys who came to NY and immediately took an upturn: Bradford, Oliver, Feliciano, Roberto Hernandez, Duaner. I know, you can reply to this with a list of guys who worked with him and didn't get any better, but I think overall his success rate is higher than the vast majority of pitching coaches out there.

Pitching is the reason for the collapse, but there are plenty of aspects of the pitching problem that don't come back to Peterson. The team was expected to rely on Pelfrey as a fifth starter, and you just can't expect a rookie to succeed. The roster was constructed knowing that a lot of the rotation were injury risks (Glavine, Duque, the possibility of Pedro not coming back), and yet our backup starters waiting in AAA were Sosa, Chan Ho Park and Brian Lawrence. The roster was constructed in such a way EVERYTHING was riding on Glavine, Maine and Perez's abilities to be healthy and effective all year. Each of them only had one poor stretch, but because of the predictable injury problems and the basic lack of talent of our backup starters, those poor stretches were enough to blow out the bullpen and kill the team.

6. I don't want to see Glavine back next year. He chastised Mets fans after the game Sunday, with a ridiculously condescending "this isn't a real tragedy, war and terrorism are real tragedies, this is just a game" speech. I can live with my team's failure. But I want my guys to come out like Trevor Hoffman last night saying "the loss is squarely on my shoulders an I feel terrible about it," not Glavine's indifference. He was pretty good, but he's ancient at this point and it's going to come apart some time, probably very soon. I think we've got Duque for one more year under contract. So barring any huge trade (Buster Olney is running around suggesting Johan Santana an Jason Bartlett for Reyes, Gomez an Pelfrey; I'd do it), our rotation base is Pedro, Perez, Maine, Duque, and some reasonable back-end starter we sign, with Pelfrey and Humber as backup starters. I'm up for that. Pedro is still really good post-injury, and people forget that he's really not that old at all.

Holy shit I took forever to write this and it's probably the longest thing I've written in years.
Oct. 3rd, 2007 08:18 pm (UTC)
... at least you're not stuck with the mo'-fuggin' Reds ...

I'd take your Mets any day.
Oct. 3rd, 2007 11:02 pm (UTC)

I guess I'm used to getting the ass kicked out of my team in soccer (what with the top-heavy league system of footy)that losing horribly doesn't effect me anymore.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


Mr. Met
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