According to New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon last season, an important factor for him is for his ballclub to play “meaningful games in September”. Unfortunately, these words did not ring true for him then. But as we speak, the Metropolitans are actually still hanging around in the National League Wild Card race.
Even though it is still early in the month& the Mets have currently dropped four straight, they are playing important games in September.
They are currently on a brutal 10 game roadtrip. Even with their current slide, they are only 3 1/2 out of the Wild Card spot. They had all the momentum going for them after a thrilling come back win at Shea Stadium against the Wild Card leading Philadelphia Phillies, leaving them a half game out of the lead. The next two games they had their best arms on the hill, Pedro Martinez & Tom Glavine. But there would be no joy in Mudville. Pedro had a melt down & gave up four long balls, and the team went into another offensive funk. They dropped the last two games to the Phillies, and then the first two on the aforementioned road trip in Florida to the Marlins.
This team has been very unpredictable this season. Just when you think that they are done, they gain a pulse and pull off a few big wins to put themselves back in the thick of it. This is part of being a .500 ballclub. They will win 2 of 3 after losing 2 of 3. It can become frustraing for them & their fans. Starting with their first series of the season in Cincinnati, this team has been up & down.
They have a good nucleus of veterans and youngsters. Their starting staff for the most part has been reliable. Their bullpen has not. Their offense has been an overall dissapointment. Some games they have scored at will (referring to the recent outburst at Arizona)and at other times has been pitiful. Defensively the team has been decent. They have had a rough time finding a steady right side of the infield. The young combo on the left side has been a bright spot even with David Wright’s glove sometimes not keeping up with his bat. The outfield defense has been very good all year with leftfielder Cliff Floyd having a career year with leather & stick. At the catching position Ramon Castro has spelled an injured Mike Piazza,and has brought a hot bat & a steady defense with him.
Manager Willie Randolph has made some rookie mistakes, but that has to be expected. Overall, he has brought life to this team and has given the fans a reason to be excited. General Manager Omar Minaya has also kept up his end of the bargain. His signing of Pedro looks like a masterful one right now. Carlos Beltran’s initial season in the Big Apple will not be a memorable one. He still has time to get hot and start showing that he was not a ‘one flash wonder’ in the post season for the Astros in 2004. But being the number 3 hitter all season, his production has been less than stellar. Minaya also signed Roberto Hernandez, who has been a decent middle reliever from the right side. He also has given the Mets a good bench, signing Castro, Marlon Anderson, Chris Woodward, Jose Offerman, and Miguel Cairo. (And we also must remember that it was not on Minaya’s watch that Kaz Matsui was signed and ‘can’t-miss’ lefty Scott Kazmir was traded for the ‘converted infielder/post surgery/extremely wild Victor Zambrano).
So all in all, regardless of how this season ends, the Metsies have given New Yorkers a reason to read even the small print on the back page of the tabloids(under the big headline stating anything about the Yankees). They are making it interesting and have a few players that can do it in the clutch. They have to put it all together and follow that old saying, ‘play every game as if it were game 7 of the World Series’.
If September finishes in triumph or tragedy, this has still been a fun ride. It sure beats waiting for the hammer to fall on Art Howe. Or getting excited because they avoided a 100 loss season. Or Lee Mazzilli poster day. Or believing that they finally found that elusive third baseman in Eliott Maddox or Richie Hebner. ( I think that I’m starting to show my age with that. Oh boy, this team makes me feel old. I may get a few more gray hairs if they stay in it, but it ‘ll be worth it !)