September 20th, might well be the day when the Mets really lost it. No, they didn’t lose the division or their playoff spot and they probably didn’t even lose hope. Actually, the only thing that they lost for sure was a game. It was a heartbreaker that had some patrons of a local bar clutching their heads and groaning as the Mets lost 8-7 to the Florida Marlins.
What worries me is that the Mets may have ultimately lost their cool, their confidence and their will to win. And that probably won’t come as a shock to anyone that has watched this team over this last dismal stretch of games in which the Mets were swept by the Phillies, lost 2 out of 3 to the Nationals, and then gave away a pair of three run leads to the moribund Marlins.
Their play has certainly been lackluster. The errors committed in the field have been so egregious that only a Hollywood producer might find them believable and the Mets have shown so little on the field emotionally that you wonder how many of the players are busy making off-season plans rather than focusing on the game.
Perhaps hiring Rickey Henderson as a coach was the wrong move for this team. It sure seems as if too many of the youngsters and bit players have learned all of Henderson’s bad habits. They are too focused on arguing calls, clubhouse poker games and sampling the nightlife instead of what is happening in the game.
And it shows. Glaringly.
But, that’s far from the only problems that this team faces - the starting pitching hasn’t found much in the way of consistency, the bullpen is worn out and can’t hold a lead, the offense is sporadic, and at least some of the Mets’ stars don’t seem to have much of a head for the game (yes, we are talking about you Mr. Reyes). While you can blame some of this on injuries, exhaustion or tired arms, it’s the mental aspect of the game that has to concern fans.
The Mets, who were the consensus pick for winner of the NL, have played .500 ball over the last 100 games. At this point they only lead the NL East by default - simply because neither the Phillies nor the Braves have showed the ability to play much better than that. At least that was how things were looking until September rolled around and the Phillies decided to play head to head against the highly touted Mets.
Now the Mets find themselves clinging not only to the divisional lead but also to playoff aspirations of any sort. Only 1.5 games separate them from a Phillies team that has been nothing short of a juggernaut, going 9-1 over the last 10 games. It has a lot of people shaking their heads and wondering whether the Mets still have a pulse and if the pressure from Philly, now that it has reached a critical point, can awaken a team best dubbed as a “sleeping giant.”
For the Mets with the playoffs on the line, and the pressure turned up, it’s time to find the magic that everyone expects, otherwise what they have “lost” might well turn out to be the 2007 season.
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