There will be a new football related post later tonight, but I had to get to this first...
All season long I’ve been in the small minority of Mets fans that haven’t really panicked. When Wright struggled early on, I was confident he’d be fine. When Joe Smith went from an early season hero and fan favorite (Durden has his authentic Jersey to prove it, possibly the only one ever made not worn by Smith) back to being, well… Joe Smith, I wasn’t really concerned. When Carlos Delgado’s slump proved to be season long, I was disappointed but still felt he would produce enough for the Mets to be successful. When the Phillies took four in a row, I was certainly annoyed - not because I thought the Mets we’re in danger of losing first place or missing the playoffs, but because I hate the phreaking Phillies. I told everyone to relax then, and I did so again after the most recent Phillies sweep. Only this time, the Mets didn’t bounce back like they were supposed to…
I was keeping a close eye on the game last night, smiling and nodding my way through 4 ½ innings against the last place Nationals. The offense and defense were solid, and Maine was just good enough to have the good guys up 7-3. They had found their way out of bizarro world again and were back on track to put the season away over the next week.
One-half inning and five runs later I felt sick to my stomach. Top it all off with the Phillies bullpen (seriously) leading them to a 14 inning win over the Cards and I finally found reason to be concerned.
Throughout the year, I've been saying how the Phillies were irrelevant regardless of how they played against the Mets. Well, now they are relevant thanks to a Mets team that recently made an incomprehensible 10 errors in two games. A team where the back of the rotation has turned into the mess skeptics thought it would be at the start of the season. A team with a bullpen that makes everything difficult, to say the least. Even our beloved Jose Reyes is falling apart: 3 RBI in 30 games, errors, baserunning mistakes (when he actually gets on – which is few and far between these days).
Are they pressing too much? Is it just a slump? Should Reyes have had more days off throughout the year? Should we have really added bullpen help (certainly not Gagne...) or a back end rotation guy at the trade deadline? Nobody knows for sure, and frankly nobody should care right now. It’s about how Willie and the Mets pulling it together over the next 12 days against some of the worst the National League has to offer (Nationals x4, Marlins x7, Cardinals).
If they separate themselves and ease into the postseason, or if the Phillies play the role of the typical Philadelphia sports team and collapse allowing the Mets to back their way in, I don’t really care at this point. How you play at the end of the season has no impact on how you perform in the postseason. I don't want to hear any of that "do you really think this team can do anything in october" talk. Everyone said the same thing about the Cardinals last year. Besides, look at the contenders.
We know about the Phillies issues in the rotation and in the bullpen (both among the worst in baseball), you can't think they are any better off than the Mets. The Diamondbacks have scored 665 runs this year. That's 23 LESS than they've allowed, and fifth worst in all of baseball. The Mets outscored them 30-22 and won the season series 4-3. They faced Brandon Webb and Livan Hernandez twice each, while the Mets threw Maine and Sosa twice, Pelfrey, Glavine, Perez once each (edge Mets in a playoff series). The Cubs and Brewers are both full of question marks and don't scare anyone. The Padres offense is almost as dismal as the D'backs and the Mets have shown they can hit their pitching (32 runs scored in six games, beat Peavy, beat Hoffman). None of these teams are flawless...
So, despite the recent embarrassment, I still believe this team is World Series bound if they can survive the last 12 days of the season (you gotta be in it, to win it).
You see, the Mets ARE the best team in the National League. I don’t think this, I know this. That’s why I haven’t been concerned throughout the season. I’ve watched the Phillies, the Padres, the Diamondbacks, the Cubs, and the Mets as a team, are better than all of them. Every team has question marks and every team has dramatic ups and downs throughout the year. Unfortunately, the best team doesn't always win, but at the end of the day there are a few things I'm sure of:
****There's only one potential posteseason NL lineup that can compare to ours, but I expect them to be watching the playoffs from home (Phillies).
****Pedro, Glavine, El Duque (if healthy) will keep us in the game against anyone in the post season.
****There’s no other NL closer I’d rather hand the ball to than Billy Wagner (34 saves and 2.38 ERA)
****The only person that can keep Jose Reyes from getting on base (and subsequently stealing 2nd) is Jose Reyes.
****I’d let David Wright sleep with my girlfriend.
****And finally, the New York Mets will make it to the World Series…if they can only get to the postseason.
12 games. 12 days. 1 job to do. Hang on tight, it could be a bumpy ride...