It took the Mets thirty innings, ten hours and one rainout to lose two more games to the Miami Marlins over the weekend. That makes five straight losses to Miami, over successive weekends. Let that sink in for a minute. The Miami. Marlins. The Marlins, who have won just 18 of their 63 games. The Marlins, who do not have a winning record against any team in either league – except for their 8-3 tally vs. … you guessed it…the Mets. As an aside, the Marlins’ next favorite opponent is the Minnesota Twins, against whom they are 1-1.
Of course, this turn of events comes with a few repercussions. First of all, the demotions of Mike Baxter, Robert Carson and especially Ike Davis became necessary when it became self-evident that none of these men were going to be part of any short-term solution to the Metsian malaise. Davis’ relegation is at least a month late, Carson should never have been here in the first place, save for manager Terry Collins’ slavish devotion to righty/lefty platoon splits, and while Baxter will forever live in most Mets fans’ personal Canyon of Heroes, his failure to get a bunt down in the ninth inning of Sunday’s game was probably his last straw. Their AAA replacements – Josh Satin, Josh Edgin & Collin Cowgill – may provide the spark needed to rescue this season from the disastrous to the merely terrible, but the odds are against it.
The second ramification is that an already-dispirited fan base is on the verge of disappearing altogether. The announced crowd on Saturday was 20,338. That’s number of tickets sold, not turnstile count, so the amount of actual breathing people at Citi Field was far less than that. This will become significant in a moment.
The third consequence was that it awoke the sleeping grizzly in the corner, New York’s own Mike Francesa. For the second time this season, Francesa – the Sultan of Smug – began his show with a rant on the general awfulness of the Mets. Surprisingly, given his history as a Mets’ antagonist, many Mets fans have found themselves agreeing with him. He said that a big deal for a big bat should be imminent, given the Wilpons’ and Sandy Alderson’s repeated statements that the team will have money to burn come the 2014 offseason. This has sent some in the dwindling fan base to drooling over Giancarlo Stanton, Carlos Gonzalez or Andre Ethier – big-slugging outfielders who have either team-favorable or contribution-worthy contracts for 2014 and beyond.
Your intrepid columnist thinks differently. The Mets shining presence – their Lochinvar – and pretty much the only reason to pay attention this year is, of course, Matt Harvey. There would not have been even as many souls in the park on Saturday if Harvey hadn’t been the starting pitcher. Met fans know there’s always a chance to see something special when Harvey takes the hill. For that reason – if, in actual fact, there really is some extra money around next year: the cynic doesn’t quite buy it – the first order of business should be buying out Harvey’s arbitration years and perhaps even a couple of early free-agency opportunities. As it stands now, Harvey becomes arbitration eligible in 2016 and his first opportunity to walk away from Queens will be 2019. If the rampant toxicity persists, can’t you see him bolting at his first shot? Especially seeing as he is on the record as having grown up a Yankee fan? To this fan, that would be worse than Dwight Gooden’s post-Mets rings in 1996 and 2000. While it’s true that long-term contracts for young pitchers are generally foolhardy, Harvey seems to be the exception to every rule: the best option just might be locking him up early, rather than have him be the “will he/won’t he?” distraction anything else will inevitably become.
It would certainly send a nice message for a change.
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