Following today’s ugly loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Mets once again find themselves right at .500 mark (62-62) with 38 games to play.
They are 11 games out for the NL East division lead and 8 games out for the Wild Card.
With the Braves and Phillies in the midst of hot streaks, the only realistic shot for the Mets to earn a playoff berth is the Wild Card. The odds of making up an 8 game deficit with 38 to play are slim to begin with. However, the feat becomes relatively insurmountable because the Mets must catch six teams in the standings (Philadelphia, San Francisco, St. Louis, Colorado, Los Angeles, and Florida).
During the miracle year of 1969, the Mets overcame a 9-game deficit to steal first place from the Chicago Cubs en route to their first World Series title. So hypothetically, a comeback is possible. The difference though is the leadership and style of play of the ’69 team and maybe a little bit of luck from the baseball gods (see the “Black Cat Incident”).
Gil Hodges, manager of the ’69 Mets, did not tolerate anything less than 100% effort from his players. His philosophy resonated with the likes of Tom Seaver, Buddy Harrelson, Tommie Agee, and the rest of the team. Fans could tell that this team wanted to win more than anything else, and they proved it by never giving up down the stretch.
Now let’s look at the current Mets. Manager Jerry Manuel sometimes confuses himself with some of his sayings and philosophies. His team leaders, Wright and Reyes, have both had streaky seasons. Jeff Francoeur has been the vocal leader of the team all season, but his credibility lacks due to his .231 BA and .288 OBP.
Realistically, the Mets will miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season, but that does not mean they won’t go down without a fight. Here is what I would like to see for the rest of the season:
1) Continue the strong starting pitching. Mets’ pitchers have posted a 3.66 ERA, 5th best in the NL.
2) Improve on clutch hitting ability. Let’s face it, this team is not an offensive powerhouse. They do however possess the ability to get the big hit in a big spot. They’ve averaged just 2.3 runs per game since the All-Star break, which is the worst in the league.
3) Play fundamental baseball. If they lose, their losses should be hard fought battles in which they put their best effort forward but are outlasted by their opponent. Scoring one run against Zack Duke (5-12 on the season) is simply unacceptable.
4) Start thinking about the 2011 season. Let some of the young players develop (Thole, Tejada, etc.) who the Mets feel will play a role on the team next year.
If the Mets can play solid fundamental baseball, they will rack up some victories. Although it may be too late to reach the playoffs this season, a strong finish will give Mets’ fans hope for the 2011 season.
About the Author
Written by Jim Mancari
James (Jim) Mancari hails from Massapequa, NY. He graduated from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA with degrees in History and Kinesiology. Jim currently is pursuing a Master's degree in Journalism at Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY). He is a devout Mets fan and takes pride in his team, despite their lack of success over the last few years. Like all Mets' fans, Jim has plenty of hope. Jim also writes for the NJ Nets on this site. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. He appreciates and respects additional opinions.