Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Why Do Mets Fans Still Care?

In case you don't believe in miracles, you now have evidence they are real as the Mets actually swept a double header...at home!  Unbelievable, I know. During the first game of the double dip I was in my office listening to the game when someone walked in, saw I was streaming the game on my iPad and asked, "Why do you still care?"

A valid question. The Mets are firmly out of the playoff picture and well out of the general interest of the sports world. They are under .500 with a team of minor leaguers peppering their everyday roster. No star pitchers to speak of and a bullpen that has more holes than a Connect Four game. But yet I still watch. I still listen to the games on the radio. I'm even taking the time to write a blog about this wretched season.

The answer is Mets fans are more than fans.

Hence the name of this blog is Mets Lifers. Being a Mets fan is part of the fabric of our lives. We all know of a fair weather Yankees fan. Do you know any fair weather Mets fans? No, because there's no such thing. It's all or nothing.

I love the fact that Mets fans still call up Mike Francesa to talk about the value of David Wright or if Parnell can really be the Mets closer, when it's the last thing Francesa wants to talk about at this time. Mets fans can't stop thinking about our team.

Right now it's a horrible team. Pelfrey is painful. Izzy gives me agida. Pagan throws like Chuck Knoblauch. And Reyes can't stay on the field. But despite this all I'm enjoying Lucas Duda. I'm happy Nick Evans is getting a shot at playing everyday. I still despise Jason Bay, but that's all part of being a Mets Lifer.

We take the good with the bad. Ok, we a take a lot of bad with occasional good and hope that there will some day soon be a time when our investment as a fan pays off.

And so we watch and wait.

Friday, August 26, 2011

David Wright is Sidney Prescott

Having just flown on a plane and being left with limited entertainment options, I succumbed to curiosity and watched Scream 4. I'm not a huge horror fan, but I've seen the other Scream movies and found them mildly interesting so I thought why not.

As I watched the main character, Sidney Prescott, yet again be hunted down by masked murderers and watch her loved ones fall down around her I realized something. Sidney Prescott is the fictional representation of David Wright.

Scream 4 is the fourth iteration of this horror franchise featuring Sidney Prescott. David Wright is in the 4th year of his own horror film known as the New York Mets.

Everyone that Sidney hopes to rely on or turns to for help ends up dying or betraying her. Everyone Wright needs to help ends up getting injured (Reyes, Davis, Murphy, etc., etc.) or betraying him (Jason Bay).

The Scream films appear to be getting worse and worse while also becoming more violent. The same is true for the Mets.

The creators of Scream could try and make a version of the franchise without Sidney as the star, but it just wouldn't be the same and fans would quickly lose interest. The same is true for the Mets and David Wright.

Turns out I'm a bigger horror fan than I thought. You see I watch the Mets play every day and subject myself to violence, maiming, and bloodshed on a daily basis. But I'm just watching it, David Wright is living it.

And like Sidney Prescott, David Wright at this point is just trying to survive.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Misadventures of Nick Evans

Nick Evans might be one of the unluckiest players in baseball. Honestly, the kid cannot catch a break.

Evans isn't a young stud player with tons of potential and hype around him. He's a serviceable player who can field multiple positions and has some signs of power in his bat. He's an ok player or at least that's what we think because Evans can never seem to get the opportunity to prove if he's more than that.

Evans had an offensive explosion yesterday in Philadelphia and single-handedly led the Mets to a desperate victory. We've seen these glimpses of success before, but that's all they are. Glimpses. Nick has the misfortune of being stuck behind a true young stud in Ike Davis, and now the emergence of the gentle giant, Lucas Duda, has pushed Evans further down the depth chart.

Besides Davis & Duda, Daniel Murphy is also a guy who's pushed Evans further out of the minds of Mets management. If you'll remember it was Murphy & Evans who platooning in left field just a few seasons ago. Murphy ultimately stayed on the club while Evans has been gaining frequent flier miles on his trips to and from the minors.

Why do I like Nick Evans? Who knows. I think it's the whole underdog vibe I get from him. The Jason Bay contract is keeping him in the lineup, but would we get an improvement in production if Nick Evans was given the shot to play everyday? I guarantee you it couldn't get that much worse. Does Evans deserve more playing time than Scott Hairsston and Willie Harris? Probably, but those two veterans have experience on their side and force Evans to the bench.

I doubt Evans will ever become an every day player. At least on the Mets. Because we all know how the Mets have a fantastic track record of trading away young players who don't amount to anything....

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Culture of Losing

You could call Saturday's loss devastating, but it would seem repetitive. The Mets have defined devestating losses over the last 3 seasons. Time after time they find ways to disappoint. It might be the BLOWpen. It might be starting pitching. It might be an inability to execute. Whatever it is the Mets are creating a culture of losing.

Don't believe me? Visit any Mets blog and look at the tone of the daily posts. Disappointment abounds. Now that's just the fan base, but the culture is evident in the performance on the field. Every team has a culture. You know when you play for the New York Giants that it's a defensive, run-first grind it out type of play. When you're on the St. Louis Cardinals you're going to play a fundementals first style.

When you're on the Mets, you're going to play disappointing baseball. There's a need for a change.

Sandy Alderson might be the answer. He might not. You may argue that calling 3 losing seasons a culture of losing is being overly dramatic. It was only 3 years ago that the Mets contended for the NL East. True but the absence of consistent playoff appearances has put the Mets in the same company of many a bottom dweller in both leagues. There's no long an expectation of winning.

There's a desire to win. There's a fire in the fan base to win. But the product on the field doesn't win.

You say the Mets were a winning team just last month. That's just the thing. It only lasts for a month. I don't have the answer for what to do to change the culture. It might be personnel. It might be the managing staff. It might be some new trainers for all I know.

But one thing is for certain. This Mets culture needs to change.

updated Sunday at 3:26 pm
Now having watched most of Sunday's game it's becoming more evident to me about this culture of losing. There are teams that get bad breaks or have a string of bad luck and then there's the Mets. If something can go wrong, it will go wrong. Tie the game with late inning home runs? Let's give up not just one run, but multiple runs in the very next inning. Have a runner on 2nd and no outs? Let's fumble our way thru the inning and find new ways not to score. Double play ground ball gives you a chance to get out of serious damage? How about an error to extend the torture?

Sure this weekend is just an awful series to use as an example, but it's not like this same dissertation couldn't have been written in countless series over the past three years. We all know it and it's becoming commonplace. That has to change or the Mets will soon find themselves in the company of the Pirates and Royals in postseason apathy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Quiet Fall of Angel Pagan

With injuries, rookie mistakes and lackluster baseball abounding in New York, one Mets player is avoiding the scrutiny he deserves. And that man is Angel Pagan.

Pagan is half the man he was last year and is somehow flying under the radar of criticism. What we saw last year was a player who would rightfully be the heir to the center field throne for years to come. We thought we had a #2 hitter to put behind Reyes that would be an on base percentage machine and once in a while give you some pop. He'd be a good defender and put the ball in play.

That Angel Pagan is gone. I'm starting to think that 2010 was an anomaly for Pagan. His patience at the plate is gone. His swing has changed to try and hit the ball for power instead of going the opposite way. His arm in the field is proving to be not even close to what we were used to with Beltran.

Is he the biggest problem with the Mets? Not even close. Is he the center fielder we should be happy to have for the foreseeable future? I think that's a question that needs to be asked.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

No Lead Is Ever Safe from the BLOWpen

Like a villain that always seems to come back from the dead, the Mets BLOWpen is always lurking to ruin any game. It's like the 8th and 9th inning have some curse on them where Mets pitchers are suddenly unable to get ordinary hitters out.

It's not like the Padres are stacked with explosive bats either. Jesus Guzman is hardly a fearsome opponent, but the flame throwing Bobby Parnell can't get him or anyone else out for that matter. I don't understand why Terry Collins thought he could get an inning and two thirds out of Parnell either.That's just pushing your luck.

Amazingly, the Mets came back to win it. But they can't win it on a double in the gap or home run in the bleachers. No, they win it on a fielders choice.

Izzy notched the 300th save of his career, but is still a major component of the BLOWpen. There is no lead that can't escape its clutches.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The7Line: September 11th Charity T-Shirt

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Downward Spiral

I knew it was coming. Just didn't realize it would happen this way. Losing 11 of 14 and their last 5 games has put the Mets in mid season form and firmly planted in baseball irrelevance.

The worst part about it is everything that the Mets were doing right has somehow disappeared. The most patient team at the plate is now swinging at every first pitch. Those surprising young studs have been sent back to normalcy. Jason Bay is hitting. What other sign is there of impending doom?

West Coast trips are historically awful for this team. With 3 games blow in Arizona and a stint in San Diego yet to come, the Mets may return home closer to 10 games under .500 than being a winning team.

The Mets demise is no surprise, but all I wanted was a winning ball club. The climb back to .500 might as well be K2 at this rate.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Why Do We Root for Jason Bay?

Mets players are quickly vilified for their horrendous performance. More players have been run out of town by Mets fandom then managers fired by Steinbrehenner.

But why do I find myself rooting for Jason Bay?

He's been awful. To say he's under performed would be like Mount Everest a bump in the road. Yet every game I'm watching him and just hoping he's going to break out. He's been playing much better of late, but would a 15 home run season really be a success?

Luis Castillo was still batting around .300 when we were ready to send him out to pasture. Armando Benitez was 2nd in the NL in saves when we couldn't wait to get rid of him. Why is that Jason Bay still has the hopes of Mets fans?

I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that he plays hard, but that will only get you so far. The other part is that he doesn't make stupid mistakes. No Murphy-esque base running blunders. No Tejada moments in the field. He's not a Franceour free swinger at the plate. And he's doesn't run his mouth.

So for now we want this good guy to have a happy ending. But our patience does ware thin. I have a feeling we'll give him a pass again this season as the Mets fate is pretty much decided, but a slow April in 2012 will find Jason Bay in Jeromy Burnitz's company in the minds of the Mets faithful.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Parnell is the Next Mike Pelfrey

Huge amounts of upside, but minuscule mental toughness. Am I referring to Bobby Parnell or Mike Pelfrey? Doesn't matter. Their both the same person.

Sure Pelf doesn't have the same heat on his fastball the Parnell does, but the concept is the same. Two young pitchers with an enormous amount of talent and they just can't put it all together.

Am I being too hard on Parnell? He's young you say? Give him time to grow you request? Hmmm, I said those same things about Mike Pelfrey and look where it's gotten us. Do you really have any confidence that Pelfrey will become a consistent and reliable pitcher? I know I don't. Those 15 wins last year was like Haley's comet. Hope you got a good luck because it ain't coming back.

Parnell will pitch in this league for years to come because he can hit triple digits on the radar gun, but that doesn't mean the Mets need to keep him around in their bullpen. There's a long history of hard throwing closers in Mets lore, but none of them panned out to be pitchers we ever wanted to hold onto.

Parnell might turn out to be an All Star closer. But not in New York. KC or Pittsburgh or even Oakland might suit him better. The big stage in the Big Apple messes with his mind. Throwing changeups to an aging Chipper Jones. Missing the bag when covering first. Throwing arrow straight fastballs that are set on a tee for big league hitters.

I've been burned before by young stud hurlers. Not since Doc Gooden has one panned out.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mets Prove You Can Ruin a Season in April

When the baseball season starts there's a lot of talk about how players need to get into their groove and that it's a long season. The 2011 Mets are proving that kind of thinking is dumb. The Mets may very well have ruined their season in April.

Let's look at the numbers:

  • The Mets started the season with a 5-13 record
  • Since then the Mets are 53-44. That's 9 games over .500
  • If the Mets had just played .500 ball for those first 18 games, their record would now be 62-53.
  • That would put them in second place in the Wild Card at 4.5 games out.
That would be with losing 5 games in a row last week and all the injuries and chaos that perpetually surrounds this team. Of course there still is a month and half left in the season and the Mets could still fall completely apart but so far April has ruined the 2011 Mets.

Oh and a sub .500 record at home doesn't help much either. 

If We Only Had a Bullpen

This is getting ridiculous. The Mets yet again came back with some late inning heroics to beat the Padres. Sure the Padres walked in the winning run, but it was the 18 singles before that set the stage for the win. That makes back to back games where the Mets took the lead in the final at bat while being down multiple runs.

However, as soon as the Mets took the lead the only thing I could think of was Isringhausen is going to blow this. It's a horrible thing to think after a great comeback, but it's the Mets way. Get a lead. Blow it late.

While the Mets needed to trade K-Rod because of his contract, he was a more valuable asset then we give him credit for. Sure he blew some saves but for the most part over the last few seasons he's closed out a number of games that this current bullpen couldn't have handled.

The current state of the Mets bullpen is beyond disastrous. I don't want to hear about the positives of Pedro Beato and the youth of Bobby Parnell. On any given day Terry Collins is forced to use DJ Carrasco and Manny Acosta as 8th inning relievers to hold onto a lead or prevent a lead from growing. Collins brought in Igarashi two nights ago in the 8th who we all knew is just a Japanese version of Guillermo Mota.

While fans wants bats in the lineup, the real need for this team is an overhauled bullpen. The current one is a makeshift crew of inexperience and has beens. Looks at the Braves bullpen. That's what the Mets need. Mentally tough young arms and a definitive closer to finish out the 9th.

I would even argue that the bullpen is even more of a need than starting pitching. It pains me to write that with Mike Pelfrey as our alleged #1 starter, but the number of games the Mets have lost this year due to bullpen meltdowns in the 7th and 8th inning are brutal.

I'm glad Izzy was able to close it out last night, but if the same situation were to come up tonight I think I would have the same suspicions as I did last night.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sad But True Mets Sign

from The7Line.com...

The Unlikeliest of Wins

You can't say the Mets aren't an interesting team to watch. On any given night you can see massive leads blow, comebacks fall short and potentially a life threatening injury unfold on your television.

But last night's 9-8 win was one of the unlikeliest of comebacks. After giving Mike Pelfrey a 4-1 lead behind three home runs, Pelf once again settled into his routine of giving up smash hit after smash hit to see the lead become a tie game.

And then comes Igarashi. Does this guy ever do anything but give up runs? A 4-4 game became 8-4 in the span of 5 minutes. So here comes the unlikely part. The Mets came back...to win! Yes! No comeback only to blow it in the 9th. They actually won! I know, it's crazy.

The craziest part is that they scored 3 runs in the bottom of the 9th against possibly the best closer in the National League, Heath Bell, who is also historically a Mets killer. Ever since he was traded, he lives to destroy the Mets.

But the Mets somehow prevailed with a Jason Pridie leadoff single. A Justin Turner single. A David Wright single. A wild pitch. And then Lucas Duda with a seeing eye single to clinch it.

Sure it's just the Padres but that's a game the Mets should have lost. You gotta say that this team never seems to give up. I like that.

Monday, August 8, 2011

For Mets No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

This is the mantra for the New York Mets: No good deed goes unpunished.

You're on track to compete for NL MVP, hitting over .340 and the catalyst for your team. Injure your hamstring...twice.(Reyes)

After a season out for a knee injury it's a breakout year where you're playing everyday. You're in the top 10 in batting and the team's best hitter with runners in scoring position. Now you injure the same knee that forced you to miss an entire season. (Murphy)

You are the most overpaid player on the team who can't deliver. You finally have a breakout game reaching base 5 times and scoring 3 runs. Without your bat, this team isn't even in this game. But all that is forgotten because you don't have bullpen that can close a door, never mind a game. (Bay)

With a patchwork lineup and your All Star 3B forced to play shortstop you find your self down 3 runs only to claw your way back to tie. A bloop single to start an inning and walked batter in front of your team's archnemesis player forces you to pitch to the one guy who always kills you. Game over. (6-5 Braves win)

You trade away the most expensive pitcher on the club to make sure his option for next year doesn't vest leaving you without a closer, but with 3 solid options to rotate through. The most reliable option chokes. The rising stud can't handle the pressure. The 3rd guy...well..he's up next. (Izzy, Parnell, Beato)

You are a candidate for manager of the year. After a 5-13 start, you brink the club back from the brink to make them competitive in a wild card hunt. A 5 game winning streak is followed up by losing 5 out of 6, sending you back under .500 and you lose your only two hitters batting over .300 for potentially the rest of the year.Welcome to the Mets, Terry Collins.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Time to Try and Just Enjoy Baseball

While some have held onto the hope that the Mets still have a chance in the Wild Card race, it's time for all Mets fans to snap back to reality. This season is going nowhere.

The Mets had yet another late inning nail in the coffin to drop them further out of baseball relevance and continue their horrendous play at Citi Field. It's boggling that the Mets have the best record in the NL on the road, but one of the worst at home.

With another pennant race out of the picture, Mets fans will have to try and just enjoy baseball while it's still on. Enjoy Jose Reyes. Enjoy an unknown like Dillon Gee who will be the Mets best pitcher this year. Enjoy Daniel Murphy's hitting, and try and ignore his haplessness on the base paths and the field. See if Lucas Duda can become a legitimate everyday player.

There are angles of interest for every Mets fan to find a reason to watch baseball, but of course there will be plenty of disappointment too like Angel Pagan's fall from grace, the BLOWpen, any Mike Pelfrey start, and let's not forget Jason Bay.

If you're truly a Mets fan, you'll still follow this team even if they plunge deeper into obscurity. But the one thing I have confidence in is that Sandy Alderson knows what he's doing. There's hope for the Mets. It's just not going to come as quickly as we'd like.

Friday, August 5, 2011

This Brave Series Determines the Season

And so the Mets are back to .500. Man, good feelings fade so fast in this town. The road for the Mets has a fork smack in the middle of it. To the left, is the road to another late summer/early fall trip to baseball obscurity. On the right is a road of somewhat relevance and interest.

But in the middle are the Atlanta Braves.

This weekend series with the Braves will send the Mets on one of those two paths. A sweep of Braves (insert laughter here) would put the Mets back in the hunt and excite the fan base again before the next 4 game losing streak. Being swept by the Braves or losing 2 out of 3, places the Mets firmly outside of the baseball relevancy picture.

What if they win 2 out of 3. Eh, doesn't do much of anything. Moving one game up in the standings at this point doesn't have much of a long term impact, but it might extend hope for a few more days.

The good news for the Mets is no Mike Pelfrey in this series. The bad news is Tim Hudson kicks things off tonight.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lacking Baseball Instincts

Keith Hernandez summed up Daniel Murphy better than anyone during last night's Mets' broadcast. He simply said, "Daniel Murphy lacks good baseball instincts." And it showed again last night as Murphy botched what should have been an easy out in the 10th inning that instead turned into an extended inning and painful loss to the Marlins.

Murphy's bat is unbelievable, but after that he becomes a serious liability. He can't run the bases right. His fielding is questionable at best. And it begs the question if Ike Davis was healthy where on earth would you put him?

Last night's loss was beyond Murphy's fault but his screw ups just add to his legend. Isringhausen should have never gotten himself into that jam and he'd been better off hitting Mike Stanton in the back than throwing him a fastball down the pipe.

And so the sick cycle carousel continues to turn. Great win streak followed by pitiful play. Somehow Mike Pelfrey always seems to be in the middle of it.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Why A Sweep of the Marlins is so Important

Amazingly enough the Mets are entering August in a better position than they started July. This bucks a trend of falling apart towards the end of July that the Mets made fashionable the last few seasons. The record could be better. In fact, it should be better but this is the hand we've been dealt.

And so the Mets come home to Citi Field, where they've been just awful, and face NL East rivals the Marlins followed by the Wild Card leading Braves. The Mets for some reason have the worst time dealing with the Marlins. A team that is mediocre at best and filled with young inexperienced talent just always seems to reek havoc on the Mets.

But it's imperative that the Mets sweep the Marlins this week. Here's why.

A sweep of the Marlins would put them at 5 games over .500 with the rival Braves coming into town. A sweep of the Braves would be bordering on fairy tale dreaming, but it would give the Mets a fighting chance to stay relevant in the Wild Card race as they face off against the Wild Card leader.

Besides just Wild Card relevance, a sweep of the Marlins would make a statement that you need to come out and see this team play. Their sub .500 record at home is a big reason why seats are still empty at Citi Field even though the team is competitive and fun to watch. Why would you want to make the effort to head to the ballpark when the chance are  you will see them lose?

Winning 2 out of 3 would be fine, but not great. If they were able to sweep the Reds on the road why shouldn't they be able to take care of the lowly Marlins? There are plenty of reasons why a sweep won't happen (Pelfrey is pitching, Mike Stanton, Logan Morrison, road trip weariness, etc.), but the Mets need to find a way to play well at home and keep fans interested.