“You are what your record says you are.”

– Former New York Football Giants coach Bill Parcells, 2005

“Those were the real Mets.”

– Cubs manager Leo Durocher after a Chicago win, June 1969

“I’m afraid we’re starting to see the real team peek out.”

– Vince, a Met fan friend of mine, this morning.

There is nothing as schizoid as a .500 team. They’ll either leave you high as a kite or too low to care. You can have visions of pennants dancing in your head one moment, then wonder how they ever won a game the next. This Mets team might be the poster children for the push/pull of the season-long grind. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” we keep telling ourselves. Whatever we need to say to get to sleep at night.

A year ago, I asked, “Who are these Mets?” That was a genuine query about a team whose actions surprised me. Pleasantly. It was a question posed in wonderment after a rare power show against a couple of far superior teams. Now, I ask “Who are these Mets?” and I ask it for identification purposes, as a questioning of what this team actually is. Is it the team of staunch starting pitching and decent defense that blistered Baltimore, Tampa and St. Louis? Is it the meek band who rolled over quietly in the first Yankee series and at home against Cincinnati? Is it the squad who showed something in that second Yankee set, but just came up short in the end?

Or is it something else? The last two losses have conjured up a less-than-fond 50th Anniversary scene. The Chicago Cubs, who were playing at a non-robust .333 clip before the Mets arrived, have provided the stage for a genuine Polo Grounds tribute. The play these past two games has been nothing short of Marv-worthy, as David Wright masquerades as Don Zimmer, Lucas Duda has done a killer Gus Bell imitation and Ronny Cedeno has been able to channel his inner Charlie Neal. There have been baserunning gaffes, torpid batting and indefensible defense. I’ve seen bad baseball. I can take bad baseball. What I can’t stomach is stupid baseball and that’s all I’ve seen since the weekend. Look, there’s no shame in losing two-of- three to the Yankees. Far better squads than the Mets have managed that one. This Cubs series has drifted off the grid. And I’m not even mentioning everyone’s most beloved target, the bullpen. So it’s already a series lost in the unfriendly confines and now a long charter to Los Angeles to continue the fun. What could have looked like a nice ride to the All-Star break is now looking like the familiar road to nowhere. I don’t know what to believe anymore.

Who are these Mets?

Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley

8 comments on “Will The Real New York Mets Please Stand Up?

  • Chris F

    Charlie, Im afraid the answer is simple: the Mets are all those teams. A while back I cautioned that we need to be very careful hanging a “contender” label on this team. Sure, the NL East is headed for parity, but let’s be real. This team is not ready for October. No shame in that. That we are even contemplating being a contender is a world away from where 2011 ended, so I say we have turned the corner, and now seeing what the brighter lights can look like. The plain fact is that some days we get Gil’s Amazin’s and other days we get Casey’s Metsies. If we get a little more of the former, and fewer of the latter, then we are ok. But the reality is that we are inconsistent, with dramatic swings of competence. October teams don’t do that. Sure, Ive been pretty unhappy in the last 4, and heading to LA is giving me the queasies, but we should celebrate the real improvements, identify the gaps that need filling and aim for 1 game above 500 by the end. Add in all the other drama (and a way better record at Citi than before) and I’ll call this a good year. It’s been Bad News Bears out there, and instead of screaming, I think it’s time to pull a deep breath and channel the Ol Perfesser!

    • 7train

      Well said Chris.

      I see it like this. How many guys on this team will remain in their current role when we’re ready to legitimately compete for a World Championship every year, year in and year out?

      Niese, Parnell, Wright if resigned, Davis possibly in a platoon, Thole at backup, Duda maybe in a LF platoon, Tejada likely at 2B, Niewenhaus probably in a platoon in RF, Murphy in a utility role, Gee spot starter/pen Dickey could catch the first couple and maybe Johan does too but that’s about it.

      That’s twelve at the absolute most and will probably be more like eight when all is said and done.

      Some of these guys may get squeezed out ie Murph if Havens is still with organization and forces his way up. Gee ect. Some might get traded, four or five pieces will be added next year, five or six the following year along with a FA or two and a couple of trades. Then we’ll be a legitimate contender. Until then enjoy the ride.

  • Brian Joura

    Good starting pitching and timely hitting can take a team far. A lousy bullpen and a porous defense will potentially hold them down. The team needs Ramon Ramirez and Bobby Parnell to help conquer the late innings. I think a playoff spot is still within reach and that’s not something I expected to say in late June.

  • NormE

    I tend to think more with Chris F. It’s a roller coaster ride, but as the season goes on the dips will be greater than the highs. I think that most of us would have been pleasantly surprised back in March with the present record. Who could have predicted that Dickey would be as
    outstanding and Santana would bounce back from surgery as well as he has? Niese and Gee have held their own, but with Pelfrey down (not that we expected a lot) the so-far-so-good return of Young has been a surprise. The team is over .500 with a bullpen that is untrustworthy.
    The team defense is shaky, there is little team speed and the power is inconsistent.
    Brian, I would love for you to be right, but I just don’t see it.

    • ducat2

      After watching two games where nothing goes right, today we see a 17-1 victory where everything turns golden. Who are these Mets? Will the real New York Mets please stand up?

  • Metsense

    Chris F and 7Train are right that the Mets are not ready for October and on paper should not be considered contenders except that the Mets on the field have positioned themselves into being contenders. The front office needs to seize the 2012 opportunity without sacrificing the base that they are building for the future. Regarding the bullpen, Alderson said: “This is an area to begin to look at externally.” (6/12/12) In RA Dickey’s book he lamented how the players in the clubhouse were disappointed to see the Mets as sellers in 2011 when the players felt they had a chance. A bullpen acquisition would help moral, add a spark and maybe steal a playoff spot and us fans will just have to deal with them not being ready.

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