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Is There Life After Mediocrity?

Mike SteffanosSaturday, June 21, 2008
By Mike Steffanos

Game 72: Mets 7 - Rockies 2

The .500 mark seems to be an ongoing theme for the 2008 Mets. They've spent most of the year around it, and their win yesterday brought them back to break-even for both the month (9-9) and the season. They've never been more than 4 games over or 3 games under in 2008.

Their recent play has given hope that they might be able to leave .500 behind and put some sort of run together. They really do look like a better team since things bottomed out in San Diego. Still, after a year of teasing and ultimately disappointing us, I doubt many Mets fans are making firm playoff plans yet.

Shoot, they could get buried the next two games against the Rockies and it will be back to same old, same old. We've certainly seen that in the past 13 months since it stopped being fun and rewarding to root for this team.

Still, there's a different vibe about the Mets and a crispness to their play that's welcome to see. While it wouldn't shock me at all if they fell back to mediocre, I think the faint promise of something more is real. That's the first time I felt that way in quite a while.

I never thought that this team's struggles were all Willie Randolph's fault. I think it's silly that some continue to try to characterize this team as great when at their apex in 2006 they were never more than very good, and have obviously slipped since then. Still, they are still better than they've shown for long stretches, and that is on the manager as much as anyone.

I'm still trying to finish a piece I began a couple of days ago on all of the week's brouhaha. One point I will be making if I ever finish the darn thing is that Willie began to carry a dark cloud around with him that turned him into a liability. While firing him guarantees absolutely nothing about whether the Mets can ever be a really legit contender this season, it gives them a chance that probably wasn't there if Willie stayed on.

Now the seemingly eternal question is now that promise has returned, can they build on it or will it just fade away under the suffocating weight of sheer uninspired averageness?

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