This season has been a microcosm of all of that. Unexpectedly, the Mets got off to a very strong start and took a 46-40 record into the All-Star break. There wasn’t one Mets fan in the world that was unhappy with how the team performed in the first half of the season. The team was extraordinary in the clutch, the starting pitching was unbelievable, Johan Santana did the impossible when he fired off the first no-hitter in Mets history, and we were winning despite an atrocious bullpen.
Then, well, to say the wheels came off the wagon doesn’t do enough justice to just how terrible this team has been. In all honesty, this is bar none the worst Mets team I have witnessed since the days of Art Howe. And it’s not even close. This is the worst offense the team has ever put together. They can’t win at home. The pitching comes and goes depending on what type of mood somebody is in. Right now, even R.A. Dickey gunning for 20 wins can make this team watchable.
Everything came to a cross roads last night. Not only did the Mets drop something like their 22nd out of their last 26 at home, but they were utterly embarrassed by the Philadelphia Phillies 16-1.
That’s right. The Phillies outscored the Carolina Panthers last night.
For what feels like the 20th straight night, manager Terry Collins was asked again if he felt his team had quit on him. Unlike the 19 times before this one, Collins wasn’t quick to defend his team. I’m sure it was a mixture of feeling embarrassed after that performance, tired of being asked the same question and utterly bewildered by what has happened to his team over the last two months.
For the record, I am not saying Terry Collins deserves to be fired for his comments. That’s far from what I’m saying. Look, Collins doesn’t need to tell me if he thinks the team has quit. I see it with my own two eyes. This team has mentally checked out. They’re counting down the days until this season is over. Their magic number is the last day on the schedule, and that’s disgusting. This cannot be tolerated at any level. And I highly doubt that it will be.
However, for all the great things Collins did in his year and a half before what has felt like the longest two-to-three months in team history, should he be held accountable for what has happened under his watch? I mean, this is currently ongoing. There is no sign of it stopping. You have top players like R.A. Dickey and David Wright both saying on record “I would love to stay, but…” Something’s gotta give.
Fact is, for all the crap we get as Mets fans, we’re quick to make excuses for our managers more often than you think. Consider the following:
After guiding the Mets to their first winning season since 2001 and first playoff appearance since 2000, Willie Randolph was given a free pass after the 2007 collapse because none of us blamed him, we blamed the bullpen. That lasted about another 60 games until Randolph was fired mid-way through the 2008 season in favor of Jerry Manuel.
Only then, Jerry Manuel matched everything Randolph did in ’08, collapsed at the end of the year, and again we made excuses saying “Well, he got us competitive again when we were dead to rights in the middle of the season”. So, we all justified re-upping with Jerry and giving him a full season. When the Mets failed to compete in 2009, we blamed it on injuries and the transition to a new stadium, classifying it as a restructuring season. Only until 2010 did the Mets decide they needed to strip everything to the bone and start from fresh.
Now, we’re in a funny situation again. We can all justify keeping Collins for another season. He garnered so much positive vibes for his 2011 performance, getting attention for Manager of the Year. He propelled this team to a hot start early, but the dire situation this team is in now is something that absolutely needs to be addressed.
Do we as Mets fans make the same mistake we’ve made in the past? Is this different than in years previously? How do we view this? How do we examine it independently? Is it independent from other regimes?
Here’s what I do know. Everybody in Boston hates Bobby Valentine. Everybody in New York still loves him. Just when you thought the “Bobby V to the Mets” rumors were dead and gone…