By Mike Steffanos
The Mets and their new manager weren't promising fans a championship in 2011, but they did assure us that we would be watching a better brand of baseball this season.
After falling to the Rockies in both games of Thursday's doubleheader, the Mets have lost five in a row and eight of their last nine. Moreover, the brand of baseball they've been playing has been commensurate with their record, further discouraging fans who are looking for a reason to find baseball fun again in Queens.
For myself, I honestly believed going into the season that this would be a fascinating year, even with the unlikeness of some sort of playoff run. I thought this season would be similar to 2005, when the club hung around in the playoff discussion into September and began to win back their fan base by playing a better brand of ball.
That season also got off to a somewhat rugged start, with Braden Looper blowing Pedro's opening day start and the Mets going 0-5 out of the gate.
The difference was that they managed to put a little six game winning streak on to push their record over .500, which took the early pressure off that team. This season the losing keeps going on, and the team doesn't look like it's having any fun. As a fan, I know that I'm not.
I had a bad week personally, and I could have used some pleasant escape while watching the games. I guess I appreciated the fact that the Mets were showing some fight, but they looked like a nervous team trying not to lose games. Again, it's not fun to watch.
I certainly believe there's enough talent here for the Mets to be a watchable team in the manner of that 2005 bunch, but if they dig a deep enough hole for themselves in the early going then it's really not going to matter. What made watching the '05 bunch fun was that there was, at the least, the illusion of a pennant race for most of the season. If you take that away too early this year then you're really searching for a reason to care.
I'm not by nature a negative person, and I didn't return to blogging after almost a year away to spend my time bitching and moaning how the Mets are ruining my life. (Yes, the title is just facetious.) I have to admit, though, that I'm starting to wonder what happens if this team really doesn't contend at all this season.
I guess the club could start selling the future, but the real prospects in the Mets system really need to be down on the farm learning.
I suspect that Sandy Alderson and company won't succumb to the temptation to yank a Jenrry Mejia up to Flushing just to run him out there and take a beating every fifth day. I don't think Matt Harvey will get the Mike Pelfrey treatment with a jump from A ball to the majors as part of some Generation K light marketing ploy. There really is no good plan B if the Mets don't contend.
The Mets really have to find their way past this start. They can't afford the type of lost season it would be with a last place team playing in front of a few thousand fans every game. In a season where winning back the fans was critical, falling even further from their good graces is almost unthinkable.
As bad as these last nine games have been, a good winning streak could turn things around and get rid of some of the negativity. They hired Collins as manager hoping for a transfusion of some of that boundless positive energy that he possesses, and hopefully that plays out.
If the losing goes on much longer, though, Terry's wife might want to move all the sharp objects and sleeping pills out of sight. It's getting late early this season.