The New York Mets have a solid ballclub. From a rotation with one of the best starters in the league, to a bullpen with one of the top closers, and a lineup with a number of perennial All-Stars, the Mets are a playoff team on paper. But the playoffs have been elusive for three years straight, and this new season has started off slowly, to put it lightly.
Losing two of three to both the Marlins and Nationals at home to begin a season is putrid, but recoverable. Iâ€™m not going to pretend like this team canâ€™t go out, in a few games, and be right back in it, but the play so far disturbs me. I donâ€™t see the fire and the passion from players who are normally much fierier.
Why canâ€™t this team pull it together? As I said, theyâ€™re good on paper, maybe even really good. The best way I can describe what Iâ€™m seeing is that thereâ€™s an aura surrounding this team, and they just canâ€™t shake it. Whatâ€™s causing this aura? There are a few possibilities.
1. The players. The most obvious explanation â€“ the players just donâ€™t have it in them to play as a cohesive and passionate team.
2. The management. This is really referring to Jerry Manuel, Omar Minaya, or both. Omar and Jerryâ€™s lame duck statuses if the team doesnâ€™t turn it around quickly are clear. Manuelâ€™s team, player, and game management have been questioned by fans time and time again, and yesterday he admitted that the team wasnâ€™t prepared (his job). Maybe the players just canâ€™t get behind these two for some reason.
3. The fans. This is one that you probably donâ€™t want to hear, but the constant booing might be getting on the mind of the team. Iâ€™ve never seen a team booed as much as the 2010 New York Mets, and often over petty plays. Iâ€™ve never been much of a boo-bird (though I did boo Heilman after giving up a grand-slam to that Nationals a couple seasons ago), as I donâ€™t see how it helps. Does it make fans feel better about themselves to boo? Do they think that the players donâ€™t realize when they make a mistake?
Personally, if the bad play continues, my preferential order of fixing would be: fans, management, players. Iâ€™d like to see the team as it stands get another shot while the fans actually cheer unconditionally. If that doesnâ€™t pan out, fire Omar and Jerry (and HoJo/Warthen) and play out the rest of the season with new management in place. Then, finally, if the team doesnâ€™t turn it around at any point this season itâ€™s time for major roster changes.
Unfortunately, I donâ€™t see the fans changing unless the team changes. So Omar and Jerry might have to jump ship first. But can the Wilpons bite the bullet and eat their salaries, while admitting that keeping them around for another season was a mistake? Only time will tell, but I know one thing for sure. I hope the Mets turn it around and start winning, and we can pull all this nonsense behind us.