Sunday, September 28, 2008

Disgrace

The 2008 season ended in fitting fashion - at the hands of a bullpen that has more blood on its hands than Lady MacBeth.

If Jerry Manuel made one mistake today, it was in believing that Scott Schoeneweis could get a right-handed batter out when Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez inevitably pinch-hit for Jacobs leading off the eighth inning. He obviously wasn't going to get the lefty-lefty matchup that he wanted; should Manuel have simply let Brian Stokes face Jacobs and take his chances? Well, the result tells us that Stokes couldn't have done any worse.

Then it was Luis Ayala, whose batting practice 3-2 fastball ended up in the bleachers courtesy of Dan Uggla. At that point it was time to offer silent prayers to the God who has ignored us so many times before and hope that somehow, the Cubs would find a way to outlast the Brewers. Minutes later Ryan Braun hit a two-run homer to give the Milwaukee the lead; don't expect to see me in church anytime soon.

So it's over now, with the death blow delivered by the Florida Marlins for the second straight season. Blood should flow throughout the concourses of Citi Field this off-season, from the general manager's office all the way down to the home team's clubhouse. Massive change is badly needed, but with the Wilpons inexplicably leaking word of a four-year extension fpr Omar Minaya earlier this week, there's little reason to believe that such massive change will take place.

This isn't Jerry Manuel's fault, of course, but he probably has to go too. Any reminders of the horrors we've seen over the last two years must be completely scrubbed out, and that includes the job of a man who really deserves better. Manuel will land on his feet; he deserves a shot at one of the vacant managerial jobs in the off-season.

As for me, I'd still love to see Bobby Valentine or Wally Backman given the manager's chair, but the Wilpons will probably hand the job over to a retread with a recognizable name and a timid personality. This is a loser franchise, after all, and they will surely go for another loser instead of taking a chance on someone who might upset the apple cart while winning ballgames.

There can be little to complain about with Oliver Perez's performance, even though he probably shouldn't be asked to return next season. He was simply brilliant for five innings, and economical enough that he could've easily lasted eight innings if he remained effective. Cameron Maybin's double to lead off the sixth came on a 1-2 pitch at the conclusion of a tough at-bat, and the Marlins dunked in two straight singles that were really more about fortuitous placement than getting good wood on the ball.

Manuel was right to go to Joe Smith when he did, with one out and the bases loaded in the sixth inning. The 1-1 pitch to Josh Willingham was a strike, but that doesn't excuse the next two pitches that were clearly out of the strike zone. Smith made the best of a bad situation after that, getting a pop up and a ground out to get out of the inning. The game was going to be in the hands of The Arson Squad at that point, and we all knew what that was going to mean.

My only other quibble was starting Ryan Church in right field, who has looked terrible this weekend and for large portions of the second half of the season. He looked completely lost at the plate again today, striking out in his first three at-bats, and Church brought nothing to the table that couldn't have been replaced or improved by Endy Chavez or even fan favorite Daniel Murphy.

Then again, Nick Evans made a rookie mistake by throwing to third on Mike Jacobs's deep fly ball to left, and that may have indirectly led to second run of the sixth inning. There are people don't understand why the Mets would shop for a natural left fielder after the season. They think that a platoon of Murphy and Evans should suffice.

What those people do not undertsand is that an infielder's instincts are not easy to overcome and do not automatically translate to the outfield. If you have any doubt about that, look at the play Chavez made to reel in the third out of the seventh inning. Is there any doubt that ball would've sailed over the head or Evans or Murphy and driven in the go-ahead run for the Marlins?

That's not a knock on either rookie, each of whom may have a place on the 2009 Mets anyway. Murphy has spent most of his professional career at third base, while Evans has mostly played first. It's not enough to go out and read Outfield Fundamentals for Dummies; a true outfielder understands that the ball absolutely must go to second base there, to keep the baserunner on first and allow the pitcher an opportunity to get a double play.

If Evans throws to the right base after corralling that first out, Perez might have been left in the game to face Dan Uggla, who has struggled mightily this season against left-handers. Uggla has only grounded into 10 double plays this season, but he has also struck out over 170 times and would've been a great match-up for Perez. It's all academic now, but the simple act of having to play two rookie infielders out of position for so much of the season had a profound effect on this game.

As for me, I don't know when I'll be able to come back to this blog again. It is a catalogue of failure, six months of abject failure, and there is no other way to look at this lost season. I have had my heart ripped out of my throat by this baseball team for three straight years now, and I don't know how or why I'm supposed to come back for more. Perhaps the closing of Shea Stadium closes a chapter of my life even more completely than I could've ever imagined.

I just don't see how much longer this relationship can continue.

4 comments:

Deb said...

"As for me, I don't know when I'll be able to come back to this blog again. It is a catalogue of failure, six months of abject failure, and there is no other way to look at this lost season. I have had my heart ripped out of my throat by this baseball team for three straight years now, and I don't know how or why I'm supposed to come back for more. Perhaps the closing of Shea Stadium closes a chapter of my life even more completely than I could've ever imagined.

I just don't see how much longer this relationship can continue."

I hear you, Jack, I hear you, and any Mets fan who has the courage to use the common sense God gave him/her probably feels a lot the same way, a lot. I know I do, but I also know I can't stop being a fan. What I CAN do, though, no matter how few people hear it, is continue to voice my displeasure, disappointment, disgust and disregard for the current Mets regime, on a daily basis, via blogging.

Do I think it will do any good? Probably not. I'll probably be called "silly," like I was last week, by a bunch of guys who think they know everything about the Mets, baseball, and how women think.

But were still wrong, and now look like the silly ones.

I just know I could never live with myself if I abandoned ship now. I have to continue on, I have to, and you do too, Jack. Sane, intelligent voices like yours are too hard to find out there in this sticky gooey bottomless black morass of Metsdom.

James Allen said...

It's easy to pick on the dreadful bullpen, but waves of scorn must also go to offense for only scoring 5 runs in 3 games. What the fuck?

The "CHOKE" label is now firmly plastered on this team, something they'll have to carry into their new park, and something that will, of course, put a nice downbeat capper on the history of Shea. Imagine, all the time and effort in making the send of of the stadium something meaningful and having it end like that. The reminder of better players, better times and past memories in general in the ceremony following the game (a HUGE fuck up on the Mets part, it should've been a pre-game ceremony) softened the blow somewhat (a big somewhat), but the moment was still forever smudged. Christ, if they thought the fans were hard on them in April and May, just wait till next year. I wait for the magic moment when the Mets get booed on opening day in their new park.

Oh well, fuck you Mets, see ya next year.

tim said...

Jack, you are a drama queen. We choked in '85 and 88' and '89 but yet your still a fan. If you want to root for the Rays or whoever you decide to root for then go ahead.

This team as constructed with exception of the bullpen, would have won the division in a walk with a better bullpen. A bullpen that should have been fixed on July 31. If you want to hate the Mets hate them because they signed Omar to a four year deal for doing nothing.

Asking a lineup to wake up everyday and produce 7 runs is asking too much. Yeah, they were pitiful in games 160, 161, and 162, as well as others but how about the games where we had leads over 5 runs, there were several. How about 2 run leads in the 8th, 1 run leads in the 9th, forget this tack-on-run bullshit. A major league bullpen should be able to close half of those games out, rather than give them away. This season is on Omar and the bullpen. I have a hard time getting on a lineup that had three 100 rbi guys in it. The Phillies only had 2, with the third highest guy having 86! The Brewers only had 2, both of whom had less RBIs than our 3rd highest (Beltran with 112). Any wonder why they are in playoffs? That's right, better bullpens.

We all talked about how once Willie was fired the ax was squarely on the neck of Omar. July 31 was his d-day to keep his job, he failed.

James Allen said...

As it turns out, the Mets and Phils scored the same numbers of runs this season: 799. I think the general difference is the Mets depend on 3 guys to drive in all the runs, while the Phils have them spread around a lot more. But imagine if the Mets didn't have to put out rookies and castoffs in the outfield for basically the entire season.

But yeah, I'm not trying to minimize the bullpen. It was horrid. I could tick off game after game after game after game after game after game after game after... you get the idea. It was unfortunately incumbent upon the offense to pick up a little of the slack and it couldn't, and 5 runs in the last 3 games just shows maybe how much they were trying too hard, swinging at stuff in the dirt and all the rest of it (the game Wednesday still galls.) Church looked downright defeated this weekend, and the looks on his face seem to sum it up.