The Mets have looked awful the last six games. No sense being coy about it. Since the glorious Fourth, the Amazin’s have looked decidedly less so. In fact, four of the six games were a horror show. Listless hitting, shoddy defense, sub-par starting pitching, bad medical news, possible mishandling of a prized prospect – this is all starting to feel a little too 2010-ish for your intrepid columnist’s liking.
I am reminded what a fragile thing a baseball season can be. All it takes is an extended poor stretch to give a feel-good story the bums’ rush. The Mets have built some goodwill and the perception of the team among the general populace has started to shift, but the play surrounding the All-Star break has reminded more than a few die-hards that this club always seems to be teetering on the precipice of irrelevance. In its present position, this team cannot afford to appear to be mailing one in. But that’s exactly how they looked on that Sunday game against the Cubs (7/8) and the first game against the Braves after the break.
That the All-Star game – the putative Mid-Summer Classic, which featured a surprising amount of Met-focus – was bracketed by such limp performances is pretty disheartening to those of us true to the orange-and-blue. That R.A. Dickey and Johan Santana were pretty well cuffed around by a Braves team that’s been scuffling for runs all season throws up a bright red flag that all that goodwill and good pub may have been built on sand. That a senior member of the coaching staff had to resort to bad-mouthing an ump in the wake of a five-run loss is nothing short of an embarrassment.
Of course, I am a fan, so in the midst of this stretch, it’s going to seem to me that this is it, the end of this particular party. That the 2012 New York Mets are, indeed, done. That this is the post I never want to write, but have to every year. I know there are 73 games remaining – two-and-a-half months of what could still be some glorious baseball. I know that there is a run or two left in this bunch. I know they can make me look back at this post and laugh at my Polo Grounds pessimism. I know this could just be a rough patch on a road to 90 wins. That’s what my head says.
I also know that the last several Julys have been most cruel to the gang from Flushing. Years of Met-watching has my heart sink at this 1-5 stretch, feeling – on the verge of “knowing” – this is the first tone of 2012’s death knell. At the very least, I’m most certain this stretch will be the difference between sprinting to those dreamed-of 90 wins and a struggle to achieve a pedestrian 81.
I sure hope I’m wrong.
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