Apparently, I spoke too soon: fire the fanboy.
I suppose this is what a .500 team looks like. A sublime string of wins, crisp games and smart play is followed by a ghastly stretch of boneheadism, vapid offense and corresponding losses. Baby steps, I suppose, but that doesn’t make the dour, Indian-pudding taste of these last three games go down any easier. Each one was winnable in its own way, but each was littered with mental mistakes, limp-noodle bats at the wrong time and just…one…bad…inning in a nearly flawless effort from the odd starter or reliever. That’s all it takes for a season to turn to trash in a big hurry. It would seem that the only difference between a .500 ballclub and a .667 one is consistent bad timing: the hit with the bases loaded that isn’t made, the botched cutoff throw that leads to a run, the Jerry Meals call the pitcher doesn’t get. Ron Darling’s mantra from 2007 and 2008 is playing in my head: “A lot of times, it’s not ‘how many,’ but ‘when’ that makes the difference.” The last three games, the “when” has not been the Mets’ friend.
Again, this is how it seems to go with .500 teams. The stars never seem to align in just the right way, and the sad fact is, a .500 team can pretty much only rely on the fates. Casey Stengel famously told us in 1963 that “You make your own luck.” Shaping your own destiny takes talent, as well as confidence and hard work. Right now, there isn’t enough talent to win the day, and the a scrappy attitude can only take one so far – despite whatever Wayne Hagin thinks about David Eckstein. Until the David Einhorn money comes in and/or the Bernie Madoff lawsuit is settled, there is little that can be done to remedy the situation. Then, Sandy Alderson can put his Jedi mind tricks to use in the off-season and acquire some frontline players – preferably a true slugging outfielder to relegate Jason Bay and a quality starting pitcher to replace Mike Pelfrey – and some prospects to restock the farms.
We fans can see better times ahead. The horizon looks clear, despite this franchise’s widely noted propensity to screw up the best of circumstances. Until that future comes into a little sharper focus, we fans are going to be stuck on the rollercoaster.