There’s a lot of air-sniffing going on around the Mets these days. People close to the team – and far away from it, as well – are beginning to wonder exactly which way the wind is blowing. There are portents abounding, smoke signals to be seen and tea leaves to be read. We are 50 games into this rapidly-becoming-painful season and change is definitely in the air. We fans can only wonder what kind of conversation goes on in the back offices at Citi Field. Is something actually up? There hasn’t been this much brewing around the team since Rheingold packed up and left for good in 2005.
One message that was quickly and emphatically decoded was who was to be held responsible for the Mets’ anemic offense. Hitting coach Dave Hudgens took the first fall. It’s never been clear how much a hitting coach has to do with the productivity of the offense – timing, luck and the opposition have as much to do with a poor offense as technique and “approach” – but he will always be the symbol when the hitting goes south. There is much speculation as to whether the firing of Hudgens is a stand-alone action, or merely the first salvo in a series of personnel bombshells – on-field and off – to come. Could Dan Warthen – unaffectionately known as “Floyd the Barber” in these parts – be next? How about manager Terry Collins? Will Lucas Duda, Chris Young and Ruben Tejada — all currently toting overcooked-linguini bats — still have the jobs they were promised come the All-Star break? All these questions are ripe for conjecture, music to the ears of the MSM and bloggers, who are rejoicing at having something else to generate sales and mouse-clicks besides the daily bad news between the lines.
Meanwhile, your intrepid columnist dug out a portent of his own while waiting out Friday evening’s endless rain delay. As security moved us from the unprotected acreage of the Pepsi Porch to the shelter of the Caesar’s Club with lightning on the way, it was decided to go check out the Mets’ Museum and Hall Of Fame. Shockingly enough, the exit of the Museum connects directly with the entrance to the Team Store, so after we left the Museum, we decided to check out the latest line of Mets tschochkes. Prominently displayed were t-shirt replicas of the jerseys worn by some of the most prominent heroes of ’86. There was a “Carter 8,” a “Strawberry 18,” a “Gooden 16” and… a “Backman 6.”
What was that?
Backman? Really? There wasn’t a “Hernandez 17,” or a “Knight 22” hanging there. There wasn’t a “Darling 12” or a “Wilson 1” to be seen. All were bigger stars and arguably bigger contributors to the legend of ’86, but there was Wally Backman’s “tersey,” front and center on that rack of Mets retro mufti.
Just another in a long line of things about this team that make ya go “Hmmmmm…”
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