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Nice Win, But...

Mike SteffanosSunday, July 9, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

I was so frustrated with the way the Mets were playing when they fell behind 5-3 that I was motivated to do something that I never do -- I started writing the following piece about my frustration. David Wright's home run took away some of the frustration, obviously, but I felt that what I wrote was still valid. Am I being too demanding here, or are other Mets fans finding themselves somewhat dissatisfied lately despite the big lead?

Ever since the Mets returned home from their terrific road trip on June 16, something has been missing. The Mets have been able to turn it on for a game here or a game there, but I don't think their 11-13 record since that trip is indicative of how poorly they have played. No, they haven't been awful, and yes, they've had to overcome some poor pitching at times and some key injuries. I guess what bothers me is that in many of the losses (and even some of the wins) the Mets are being outworked by the other team, and seem to be taking some aspects of the game for granted.

I've been a Mets fan for over 35 years, and I've learned that you can't live and die with each game in a 162 game season. It's inevitable that your team, no matter how good they are, goes through stretches where they play fairly bad for a significant period of time. Physical errors, like the one Nady committed in right field today are part of the game and you have to accept them. Mental errors, like when Jose Valentin and Endy Chavez took for granted that the Marlins weren't going to try to aggressively take the extra base -- even though they have been doing that all series -- are much harder for me to take as a fan. Paul Lo Duca and Jose Reyes both made basic baserunning mistakes in the pivotal eighth inning that might have cost us a win if not for Wright's heroics.

Since the Mets have returned from that trip, they seem to lack a little of the hunger and competitiveness that characterized the team for much of the first half. Maybe that's an inevitable hangover of such a big lead. I'm not really sure why it would lower the team's baseball IQ, though. Look, maybe they come back from the break refocused and I can feel good about this team again. Right now, I'm a little aggravated. I'll be back later tonight with the game recap.

Comments (8)

I'm feeling much the same way. There's something missing...the hunger. They appear to have become complacent. Sometimes, i can't even bear to watch the game.

I'm hoping that things get a little more lively after the break.

At this point in the season and with a dozen game lead, the Mets main opponent is boredom. Their play, at times, over the past 4 weeks has reflected this fight against boredom as they've appeared disinterested during games and have lacked spark a great deal of the time. There is no team pushing them from behind to win every night. They know and the rest of the division knows that there is no team that has the talent and drive to catch them at this point.

I think a lot of it has to do with general health. Aside from a handfull of guys, they've all got bumps and bruises to nurse. This break is coming at exactly the right time.

You said it Dubb. The break is coming at the right time. Nobody could expect the team to continue to play like they did vs AZ. They need to get healthy and get the pitching staff in order in the 2nd half. Did you see the grades in todays Post? I actually thought they were not bad and I agreed with them for the most part....

Everyone makes a few points, but the only point worth knowing is that it is a long season. Should the Mets be 58 and 31, sure, but the lead has also allowed Willie to go to his bench earlier and more often than even he would have normally been inclined to do. In particular, this let Valentin and Chavez prosper and add a few unexpected wringles to the mix. And when you consider the contribution of the entire bench, including Woodward, Castro, Marrero and even Milledge, this has been a key to first half success and second half intuition. The bullpen after a rousing start came a bit back to Earth after mid-May, but they could be even more powerful in the second half with Henry Owens added to the mix and a usual second half by Wagner. Omar has taken a lot of heat on the Benson trade, but it really yielded El Duque and Maine and that may turn out to be a real winner considering he also dumped a highly inflated salary and one bombastic brunette with fake boobs. The biggest concern is Pedro and who will end up being the 5th starter down the stretch. Willie has some significant young talent to choose from in Maine, Pelfrey, Bannister and Soler. There is not one other team with that luxury. Frankly, Delgado (the weakest glove, streakiest hitter and oldest regular) is of some concern, but the rest of everyday lineup is pretty sound. Pretty good lineup of position players who came up through the Mets system out there right now:
Not a bad lineup with an ace in KAZMIR.

The losses aren't bothering me. They're sitll in first place and thye're there by alot so no need for me to be mad.
I think people just need things to be mad at. Some people should just calm down and take a chill pill and just enjoy the season.
It's a stress free season because of the lead.
And I see it as, the Mets have about 3 weeks to get the front-line starter and make themselves not only dominant in the NL but enough to take down an AL team.
Because I'm confident the Mets have MORE than enough to take down the NL teams, I'm VERY confident they make the World Series.
Now, as for them winning it? Not soo much. Those AL teams are official.
BUTTTTT at the same time they would onyl have to face 1 AL team in the World Series, not a gauntlet of AL teams. And as we all know, by then it's all a crap-shoot, whoever is hot will take the series.

Guys, I'm not discounting the injuries and the lack of pressure from other teams in the division. I'm not worried about winning, I'm just not enjoying the brand of baseball being played since mid-June. I really enjoyed the brand of smart aggressive baseball the Mets were playing before this streak. I thought the Marlins were smarter and more aggressive this weekend. I'm hoping the break is coming at the right time, and we start playing well again.

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