Well, here we are, another season come and gone. One might be tempted to say “down the drain,” or “shot to hell” and one wouldn’t be wrong. Let’s face it, coming off an all-too-brief success cycle, the Mets’ 2017 season is one best left in the pile of bones representing 1974, 1992 or 2003. 92 losses is an awful lot, especially for a club that had designs on the World Series when the season started. As a result, changes were definitely required. Manager Terry Collins, pitching coach Dan Warthen and head trainer Ray (“Angel of Death”) Ramirez were all let go before the last hot dog wrapper blew from the Citi Field grass. You can’t say any of these firings or non-renewals is unfair, though holding Ramirez responsible for the spate of injuries is a little like blaming Sam Champion – the New York Eyewitness News weather guy — because it’s raining out. Besides, as one Twitter wag put it, “Ramirez fired? Well, now who am I going to boo on Opening Day?”
Funnily enough, though, yesterday, October 4, marked the seventh anniversary of the last spate of Queens head-rolling. On that date in 2010, manager Jerry Manuel and GM Omar Minaya were let go. And after another 90-plus loss year – 2004 – there was another lineup for the guillotine, when manager Art Howe and GM Steve Phillips spent that season dead-men-walking. Do you see the same pattern I do? The Mets are a perpetual bell curve. A management team comes in when they’re at their lowest. They start replenishing resources, so there’s a slight modicum of success for the first year, a significant jump in fortunes the next and a playoff appearance – or two – right after that. Then the steep downslide starts and it always appears a lot swifter that the rise or the building. It bears repeating – and it often is right here – that the Mets were in the World Series only two years ago and fought their way into the Wild Card game last year. Suddenly, seven years into the regime of GM Sandy Alderson, they fell off a cliff. It should be noted as well that Alderson is entering this offseason without a contract extension of his own, but he has cultivated his reputation and gravitas such that he can basically write his own ticket when it comes to employment status: he’ll leave when he’s damn good and ready. We fans still wait for the day when the bell curve flattens at the high point. Alderson and his predecessors always preach developing a “sustainable run of success,” or a “culture of winning,” and it never happens. We look into our own division and see a historically long streak of playoff appearances. We look across town and can’t escape some moron braying “27 rings, baby!” We want that. We’re hungry for that. Yet, we content ourselves with a couple of postseason appearances a decade. The beat just goes on.
So… now what? The team is in rubble, what with all the mid-season contract shedding, there’s no manager and no pitching coach. Replacement names were being floated about, even before this benighted year was over. Given Alderson’s reputation, it probably won’t be somebody who would excite the fan base, at least at first flush. We’ll hope for the next Joe Maddon or Terry Francona and probably end up with Dick Scott or Bob Geren. Whoever it is, he will most likely lead the team back up the mountain, get to the playoffs a time or two, then get cashiered six or seven years hence. The beat just goes on.
This same article could probably be written after the 2024 season, just with updated names.
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