By Joyce Mandelkern
Okay, so here's the deal...I'm in sports hell. This has been one lousy baseball weekend...and it had so much promise. I will give the Mets credit for one thing. They keep finding new and creative ways of blowing games to the Phillies. Just when I think they have found every imaginable way to lose, they come up with a new wrinkle to show me. Oh those lovable losers. So for the record, they decided not to play defense, not get the big hit (except for Beltran's game tying homerun), and not pitch well out of the bullpen. We even have a bullpen pitcher who can't throw the ball from the pitcher's mound to second base for an easy out and a back-up catcher you can't catch a foul pop-up for an out. Who's better than us? And as a grand finale on Sunday, they chose to go the walks and errors route. These are your 2007 New York Mets. Your season has come. And hopefully not gone.
Timing is everything. And their timing stinks. The Mets, in effect, could have sewed up the division this weekend. But noooo. Instead, they were swept and embarrassed in their own house by a team that had done this to them before. It appears that winning this weekend was much more important to me than it was to them. And judging from the post game interviews, I'm much more upset about the fact that they lost, and how they lost, than they are. Isn't that nice? I have a killer instinct and the team I root for doesn't. I should clarify that, Paul LoDuca gets upset, Marlon Anderson gets upset, David Wright gets upset, everyone else seems to take it in stride. After all, they're still in first place. So what if Jose Reyes is playing with his head up his tush. I can deal with his slumping at the plate. Yes it drives me nuts that he pops up the first pitch almost every at bat, but now his baserunning and defense are suffering and that is intolerable. What was he thinking with 2 on and 2 out trying to steal third base and taking the bat out of David Wright's hands? I've said it before...physical errors are one thing, but mental errors are unforgivable. We now have a team that doesn't throw to the right base and doesn't hit the cutoff man. The Mets do not play fundamentally sound baseball against the Philadelphia Phillies. They may have just handed them the division title. Nice.
I have made no secret of the fact that I am not a big fan of Willie's as a manager, mainly because of his in-game managerial skills or lack thereof. This weekend was no exception. And of course our sports personalities are so totally different I can't possibly understand how he doesn't feel the need for payback, to put the hammer down on the Phillies, a sense of urgency that I want and need this team to have. He might be better off keeping them on an even keel, not too high and not too low. I suppose time will tell.
One of the many things that drove me crazy this weekend happened Friday night. Carlos Gomez was on third, Jose Reyes on first, Castillo at bat, one out and left pitcher on the mound. Has there ever been a more perfect situation for a squeeze? Suicide or safety, I don't care, but please Willie, try it just once!!! The two fastest guys on the team are on the bases and the team's best bunter at bat and nothing. And the worst part is that the Philllies didn't even pitch out once. And do you know why? Because they KNEW there was no chance that Willie would try and squeeze and that's the problem. I believe it was the 8th inning and we ended up leaving the bases loaded and no run scored. We went on to lose the game. At some point you have to figure how to get a run across with a hit (or without Jose manufacturing it) and Willie won't/can't do it. He is not an NL manager and will continue to be out-managed strategically in the playoffs if we do get there. I wonder if Jerry Manuel even suggested it to him. Should we discuss why he left Feliciano in to pitch to Rowand. Oh forget it, its not all Willie's fault, everything is just a mess. And I do mean everything.
I took the optimistic outlook after the last Phillies-Mets debacle. I don't know if I can do that this time. It would take a monumental collapse to lose the division title and frankly, the way this team played over the weekend, it is quite possible that it might just happen. Winning this division is not a done deal. We don't play like we want it. They certainly could've used the next two weeks to rest some people and ease into the playoffs, but now they will have to play for their postseason lives. And they have no one to blame but themselves. They literally handed the series to the Phillies. Again. We're running out of time guys.
I have always said I prefer to get my stress from sports instead of from the real world. I gotta tell ya though - I need a new hobby.