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Don't Let the Terrorists Win

Mike SteffanosTuesday, September 9, 2008
By Mike Steffanos

It seems lately that half of what I read or hear about the Mets from the mainstream media contains references to last season's collapse. When Jose Reyes has a bad six game start to September, the Post's Bart Hubbach "subtly" works it in to his notes column:

Is Jose Reyes headed for another September swoon?

The past week certainly had the makings of a repeat of his final-month flameout last season, when the shortstop's .205 average was a primary reason for the New York Mets' historic collapse.

While Reyes' rough start is certainly news -- I mentioned it myself yesterday -- note that in the space of two short paragraphs Hubbach managed to work in swoon, flameout and collapse.

Admittedly Jose was a non-factor in the Phillies series, but I'm not quite sure a really rough weekend merits the over the top treatment that Hubbach gives it. Then again, this was the same writer that tried to convince Mets fans that Jerry Manuel thought we were all ca-ca based on his "fertilizer" analogy, so it needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

On the other hand, Hubbach has followed a well-worn path that has been utilized by many in the local media. The name of the game is getting your stuff read by as many folks as possible, and appealing to the fears of Mets fan is obviously the gift that goes on giving. I suspect this well is nowhere near dry.

While it might make for a more sensational and hence more widely read story, and while it would be stupid to pretend last year didn't happen, I question the value of taking these constant trips down dreadful memory lane and the endless need to compare everything this year to what happened last year.

I think the Mets have a pretty good thing going this season. Given what they have to overcome, though, that may not be enough to make the playoffs -- or go very far if they do. And that's the tender spot where they keep sticking us.

To those of us who are die-hard fans of our team, the end of the season feels like a death. Compound that with the circumstances surrounding last season's failure, and that death takes on all of the gruesome characteristics of something out of a slasher film -- even to the point where the victims in those films seem to be somewhat complicit in their own demise. The 2007 Mets never heard the scary music growing louder in the background as they indifferently sleepwalked through much of the season.

We fear a repeat of how we felt when it ended last September. Why don't want to experience that death again. There are those out there who seek to exploit that fear over and over and over and over and over...

In a sense, though, giving into this fear forces us to die this death many times. A smart guy who lived a long time ago had something to say on that subject:

Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.

William Shakespeare
Julius C├Žsar. ACT II Scene 2.

My rejection of all the negativity that surrounds this team at times has nothing to do with wearing rose colored glasses and refusing to note all the obstacles blocking the way. It has everything to do with a desire to enjoy the ride as far as it will take me. If the Mets come up short I will deal with it when it's over. In the meantime, I won't give in to those whose self-appointed task is to play off my fears and endlessly rain on my parade.

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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Comments (7)

Reyes had a tough series against the Phillies, but before that he was hitting well against the Marlins and the Brewers. I think he just ran into a bunch of pitchers who he traditionally doesn't hit well against (Moyer, anyone?) in the series with the Phillies. We'll see how he does the rest of the way out, but I'm not as worried as I was last year.

I agree. I think that most of the "last year's collapse" talk comes from the media and they will continue to dwell on it until the season is over. I hope the Mets players are not dwelling on it, because it is in the past. As the saying goes - we live, and we learn. I know when I have a given a poorly received presentation, I try to find out what worked and what didn't work.
I wont relive it constantly. Just try to learn from it.
Today thee is a 1.5 game lead over the Phillies. If the Mets hold on then I will feel good. If they should fail valiantly, then I will fell ok. If they should pull a choke job. Then I will hibernate from the sports section for a few months like I did last year. Regardless, I am going to enjoy the ride as long as I can.

But I would like to see fewer pop-ups to the infield from Mr. Reyes.

Reyes had 2 hits today. So did Wright.

I think it was their Phillies series that got to them, not the magical mythical evil September swoon.

As long as there is some life left to the "collapse", Reyes not hitting last September, and the bullpen debacle of 07' they will continue to write these stories. As you said: "preying on the fears" of Metsies worldwide. I believe this team can get it done and low and behold the Mets are still in first place by 2 1/2 games thanks to the Fish. Our team has given us a wild ride this season and yes, I believe the players want to prove that last year was last year and this year is not the same as last year. I just want them to go out there like they have for the past 2 months and a half and put it on the line every game. If they can get to the post season, make the dance, and win the whole thing, it will eventually shut these "beat writers" up. Lets Go Mets!

I look at fielding, baserunning, a batter's approach to a hitting situation -- that sort of thing in determining whether a team is fully engaged or not. Individual hitters go through hot and cold spells; if a player is playing hard and smart his talent will eventually take him to his level whatever that might be.

Talk about a team not fully engaged: how about the Brewers, in that recent series with the Mets? Your team has just lost two games, is trailing in a third against a team that might well be your opponent in the first round of the playoffs -- and you get caught flatfooted by a double steal?

The clear opposite of the coin is the play that Reyes made last night with Milledge batting, ranging deep into the hole to snag a hard grounder, and gunning Lastings out. That play required all of Reyes' athleticism, of course, and total concentration and anticipation as well. I don't think Manuel feels any need to discuss Jose's game approach with him just now.

Sometimes reporters anticipate a particular development leading to a certain result, so much so that they will report that result even when it doesn't transpire. Wagner goes down, there's no obvious candidate to replace him; ergo, the Mets are doomed. For my money the Mets are and will suffer more from John Maine's absense than from missing Wagner; and maybe they can survive both. But if not, it won't be from choking.

Damn; I was SO hoping to include a Shakespeare ref of my own! How about those "muling and puking" sportswriters? He wrote that, tho' I don't remember in which play.

I have to add this, all the articles that are now saying how "Amazing" it is to see Delgado on this type of tear is very entertaining. First, I can honestly say that by mid-June I was in accordance pretty much with everyone who said, maybe Delgado has lost it, or platoon him. He was just not getting the job done for the money he was being paid and for the purpose he was traded for. That being said we have to be reminded of the fact that this guy has always been a professional, and was able to recover the discipline at the plate, recover from the injuries, and focus on being the force that he had been previously. The clip that he is hitting homeruns might be "amazing", but the approach at the plate should not be. This guy has had the numbers, and is potentially a hall of famer. He has done what he had to do, got his mind right, changed his approach at the plate back to what had made him successful, and become the leader that the Mets wanted him to be on the field. The MVP chants are well deserved, as with many who thought the boo's were. What I'd like to call "Amazing" is the fact that all those who wrote Carlos D off earlier, cannot find the "cajonnes" to admit they made a mistake, did not know what they were talking about, or that they should be eating humble pie at this point. C.D. has helped revive this team and the fanbase to a new level. This is the fighting team we all looked for earlier in the season, and we have been reminded of the fact that once again 162 games is a marathon not a sprint. Whether he can soley lead this team to the World Series or not, the fact remains is that Carlos D. has risen to the highest level and has carried this team almost single-handedly since the break. It's "Amazing" how quickly we were ready to send him packing into the sunset! GO Mets!

Jason - Agreed. I think the Mets as a team were pressing against Moyer after being shutout by Meyers, and that didn't help Reyes, either.

Greg - I don't see a choke coming, though I agree they might not make it. Given what we were looking at back in June, I am really grateful.

LJ - Agree with your take on Delgado and the Mets putting it on the line each game. Last night was a game they would have lost last September for sure.

dd - I wonder what the bard might have said about Delgado?

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

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