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It's High Noon, Gangster Jerry

Mike SteffanosTuesday, September 16, 2008
By Mike Steffanos

Game 149: Nationals 7 - Mets 2

I never felt any sense of surety that the Mets would make the playoffs, but I have to admit that I didn't see this coming. I don't believe that you can take a win for granted against any team in September, but I felt that this Mets club would compete and not play scared. To my mind, they looked like a team that had lost its composure last night, playing with desperation rather than purpose.

We'll talk about Pedro another time, because I believe there is a more important issue at stake for the future of this team.

I remember Willie Randolph's first season in 2005 when the Mets had that horrendous early September road trip that dropped them out of any realistic playoff contention. I felt that it was important that Willie had reached a crossroads and needed to keep the team competing and trying to win. To his credit -- and theirs -- that was the case.

Now, for all the hype from Wallace Matthews and some others, I think Jerry Manuel is at a similar crossroads. As a fan, I can accept the Mets not making the playoffs because the team (especially the bullpen) isn't good enough. But if they're going to fall apart down the stretch, I think Manuel is gone.

Don't get me wrong. This isn't all Jerry's fault at all. If I was Omar Minaya, I would feel a big sense of responsibility for what went wrong this season. Jerry couldn't control the off-season decisions made about this bullpen and rolling the dice again with Alou.

On the other hand, the one thing I think a baseball manager should be held the most accountable for is getting his team to compete. Given that every major league manager has some level of competence with strategy and bullpen management, I think getting his team to compete is the most important thing he does -- particularly when things are going wrong. Just ask Ned Yost.

Good thing the Mets didn't jump the gun and offer Jerry a contract for next year. He still has something to prove, and his job is decidedly riding on it. I believe most Mets fans can live with their team coming up short in results, as long as it's clear that they are competing. Right now that is anything but clear.

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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 (3)

Well if getting shutout by the Nats is their idea of competing look out. The offense has looked pretty weak for the past 5 games and guys are looking bad at the plate. Don't get me wrong I don't expect 15 hits a night, but the results for the past 5 games (a 1-4 record) just aint going to cut it. Now they are looking up again, and everything about last year is going to pop up, again. They have to "man up" and get it done, period! However I agree that this is not Manuel's doing, he's playing with the cards he's been dealt. It is Omar who dealt these cards, and gambled that it would be a success. These September swoons are becoming old quick, and they have to find a way to overcome the latest adversity. Lets Go Mets!

These past few games with a man on 3rd and no out and don't score. Loaded bases no outs and don't score is driving me crazy. This time last year I was taking showers in a wheel chair because of a stoke, but thank God thats over and it's a different Sept. for me and I am back to normal. Why can't our Mets have a different Sept. or is this thier normal? and can't win two in a row in the last few games. My faith in this team is sinking fast. "IF" they can pull it off and get into the play-offs. As of now they look like they wouldn't win one game. We truely need a divine intervention. Can somebody step forward and get some r.b.i's please, can someone throw strikes, nothing fancy, just 98 m.p.h. strikes. Can we just be a .500 team in these last 12 games. Thats all I am asking. Or is that to much? " I need a little help from my friend."

And people here and there bandy about the idea that Manuel could win manager of the year. Personally, I could care less, as long as they still fire him. I don't think he's what this team needs, and I think he struggles with a lot of the finer points of managing, both on field and off.

Is he helping them compete? He talks about the wild card like they can't win the East. He repeatedly suggest that he doesn't trust and has no faith in his players. I still think the Mets will win, and prior to the final weekend, but it'll be in spite of Manuel and because they are really that good and the Phillies are really not. They're still streaky, the same was as early this year and last. But they're going to have that upswing into the playoffs.

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