By Mike Steffanos
Game 158: Cubs 9 - Mets 6 (10)
Yesterday was probably my last game at Shea Stadium. If somehow the Mets could have overcome their almost bizarre problem with scoring runners from third with no outs, it could have been up there with the best games I ever attended. As you all know by now, however, they couldn't and it wasn't.
I guess it's somewhat ironic that my last game at Shea was also a first -- the first time I ever sat in that left field picnic area. The company was great; the view from there was really cool. And for a while the game possessed real drama, if not the crisp execution I would have liked to have seen.
As the Mets playoff chances once again seem to be slowly sinking into Flushing Bay, I find it hard to harness a grudge against Oliver Perez, David Wright, Ryan Church, Luis Ayala or anyone else's choice for fall guy. I'm tired of spending two years trying to believe in a team that seems to have trouble believing in itself when its back is to the wall. While I'm no fan at all of the booing that goes on at Shea, I do understand the underlying frustrations that lie at the root of it.
Anything can happen in baseball, but I suspect this team will need to find their own version of Keith Hernandez to change the mentality and ratchet up the toughness. As there would never have been a 1986 without Hernandez, I doubt there will be a new championship to celebrate without someone coming in and shaking things up. Daniel Murphy seems to have it, but he's just a kid. While Santana seems to have that quality, it really needs to come from an everyday player and a veteran.
But in the meantime (and weather permitting) we seek to reach back down into our bag of optimism and try to cheer this team on. Honestly, though, I hate to say this, but my personal bag of optimism has been virtually emptied by too many withdrawals and not enough deposits over the past couple of years.