By Mike Steffanos
Marlins 5 - Mets 4
Once again the Mets manage to stage a rally in the 9th, once again they fall short. It's become a theme for the season. At some point if I'm feeling particularly OCD, I might sit down and try to calculate how many games the Mets got at least the tying run to the plate in the ninth and then lost.
Willie certainly left himself open to second-guessing again. I can't say that I was happy to see the dying hopes of this season hanging on the right arm of Shingo Takatsu; I thought it was a mistake. I think the pressure of being a first year manager with a bad bullpen caught up to Willie last night. He took the gamble and watched the season float away over Cliff Floyd's glove in the seventh. Still, the bottom line is that this bullpen needs to be a real priority for Omar in the off-season.
I don't know about you, but I just knew Beltran wasn't going to come through in the ninth inning, and I don't like feeling that way. I have nothing against this kid -- I can't fault his work ethic, his willingness to play hurt, or his commitment to being a part of making the Mets a winner. I find it painful to watch the pressure he puts on himself to live up to a contract based more on his potential than anything else.
Although I am convinced (and drone on endlessly) that the Mets must ultimately change the way that they do business, must stop betting the ranch on high-price players and work harder to build a solid baseball organization, I also freely confess that I did support signing Beltran. Because of that, I am complicit in his failures. I can't say "I told you so", because I didn't.
And I still like you Carlos. I still root for you. I still hope that you can find the sense of peace playing baseball in New York that you spoke of when you came back from that awful collision. I hope that you can turn those boos into cheers, if not this year than next, because you do everything right -- except when you are in the batter's box and the game is on the line. Then, frankly, you just suck. I still root for you Carlos -- but you don't make it easy.
As I said at the start of my post, Willie has a knack for leaving himself open to big-time second-guessing. I'm not going to defend him here, because he has earned some abuse. As a first-time manager, I guess this shouldn't come as a huge surprise to any of us. Willie, I'm still willing to give you the benefit of the doubt to a point, but you have to do one thing. I expect you to find a way to keep this team from completely tanking the season.
We've seen that way too often in September, and I'm not willing to sit through another early checkout. I've given you the benefit of the doubt plenty, Mr. Randolph, and I won't let you off the hook on this. I'm willing to wait another year for a real playoff push by the Mets, but I will hold you personally accountable if this whole month goes down the toilet.