By Mike Steffanos
I've been writing for a while now how I don't have the same feeling watching this year's team as I did last year. Of course they get some slack for their current struggles for all the injuries they have suffered, but they certainly haven't shown the same toughness in the face of adversity that last year's team did when it seemed as if a starting pitcher went down every other day.
I also said that it takes a while for a team to find its identity each season, and I hoped that the Mets would find their 2007 identity sometime soon. Now I just hope that they haven't already found it. Frankly, this year's edition seems somewhat soft to me, and lacking in fire and grit. The can-do attitude that has characterized this team in the face of adversity over the past couple of years just doesn't seem to be around in 2007. I hope it shows up.
Reverend Al, a frequent commenter here, left this one today:
DITTO....check please... Im done... I believed more in last years team then this years team. I am no better then they are right now, I seem to not care as much? I need something, some fire, a brawl,a trade, a win would be nice. This team is becoming boring, laid back zzzzzz. HEY snap out of it. Last year, to me seemed more exciting, we even shared how good a fight was in us when we lost. Is this team so good that they can turn it on and turn it off when they want? ( we can make it up on the road. ) I know last year in the lean times, we were asking anybody if they can swing a bat to step up, but something is differant this year? Or is it just me and I am in a slump too. Last night when I came home and turned the t.v. on it was 3-2 Phillys, I turned it off to watch something else. My fire is going out. Somethings wrong. I think I have to go on the road for awhile.
I think that's what bothers me the most. The perception that this team doesn't care as much as last year has caused me not to care as much. I've been into the starting pitchers, particularly Perez, but not really into the team as a whole. I watch all of the games, of course, but I'm just not enjoying them as much, even the wins.
I still appreciate having a good team that, for the most part, plays solid fundamental ball. Intellectually, there is much to like. They really haven't captured my heart in the way they did last year, though, and in the way some much less talented Mets teams of seasons gone by managed to do. I still like this team, but I don't love them. This has nothing to do with their struggles of the past few games -- this has been there almost from the beginning.
The injury problem is going to be there for a while. Green should be back soon, but Alou is a big question at this point, Carlos Gomez looks like he still needs to be playing every day in Triple-A, while Ben Johnson looks like a AAAA ballplayer to me. There is an opportunity for Lastings Milledge to show that he is ready, if he can make it back from his own injury.
I'm a little tired of waiting for Carlos Delgado -- who I like as a ballplayer -- to decide that he needs to accommodate the reality of time and adapt his style at the plate to regain some consistency as a hitter. Please, Carlos, use the whole field against right-handers, too.
David Wright is experiencing adversity for the first time in his major league career. He'll have to deal with that. I just wish he would shorten his swing back up and not worry about anything but base hits for a while. I'm tired of watching him strike out on outside pitches or pop the ball up.
The bullpen beyond Billy Wagner has been less dependable this year, but Wagner has been great and there is still enough talent to hold leads.
I'm tired of having the feeling that I know whether the Mets will win or lose every game by the fifth inning.
It would be nice for the whole team to get healthy and for the bullpen to get really hot again. It would be nice if the starting pitching can be rewarded for carrying the team since opening day with run support. What would be even nicer would be for this team to rediscover the grit and intensity they had last year. I still enjoy watching them for the most part, but I'd love to fall in love with this team again.