Blame it on the unbelievable injuries, the underachievers, the management, Bernie Madoff, Wayne Hagan, or the rain. It doesn't matter who you point a finger at. When this season finally ends, 2009 will go down as the worst year ever in New York Mets history. That's a bold statement no doubt when you factor in the 1962 season and the entire Vince Coleman firecracker era. But it's true at least when you combine the high hopes for the team before the season started and the fact their new ballpark Citifield just opened.
In 1962, nothing was expected and nothing was delivered. In the early 1990s, has-been burnouts took the field, and to no one's surprise, came up Pat Tabler lame. This year, however, with the acquisitions of top relievers Frankie Rodriguez and J.J. Putz, everyone picked the Mets to -- at the very least -- compete. Sports Illustrated even picked them to go all the way on their cover -- nice to see their personal kiss of death is intact.
No doubt the far-from-Amazins have had an unfair and obscene amount of injuries from stars Jose Reyes, Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran to starter John Maine and the aforementioned Putz. But while some teams refuse to lick their wounds, and are motivated to play the game - the Mets decided to phone in each game -- coming to the ballpark defeated long before the umpire shouted "play ball." Sadly, coming to the ballpark with little spark is nothing new for this team.
Since 2006 -- a year they should've went all the way -- this team has had no moxie or fire, and little heart. Aside from a David Wright or Alex Cora this year, this team extinguished any fires before they started them. To make matters worse, the organization has publicly embarrassed itself by misdiagnosing or mistreating injured players and firing staff in the oddest ways. In short, they create problems on their own to match the problems they have little control over like say, a pulled hamstring.
Look, I have been an avid Mets fan since birth, and I don't mean to kick the team while they're down but they've kicked us around enough to justify this rant. Since this season is lingering like the longest fart in the history of gas, it's time for us all to look forward to 2010 and beyond. In order to really move in the right direction, this team needs a total overhaul, and it needs to start with the Wilpons. The way in which Fred and his sons run this team has become a walking punchline. They simply must go, and I felt this way long before Madoff cheated them out of millions. They have no identity when given their history, they should.
Next, General Manager Omar Minaya needs to go the way of dodo. He should've lost his job after the Tony Bernazard/Adam Rubin incident alone or for the past two season collapses. It's a shame too because when you look at the acquisitions he's made from Johan Santana to Rodriguez to even Pedro Martinez -- Minaya has come thisclose (on paper anyway) to building a winner. Each year, however, since 2006 he's failed to find the final piece of the puzzle to take them to the promised land.
Jerry Manuel has to go, too. Sure this season's not entirely his fault, but no fan will actually feel a fresh start next year if remnants of '09 remain. Plus Manuel's low-key approach is the antithesis of what this team actually needs. Bring back Bobby Valentine, hire Buck Showalter or Larry Bowa, or pray that Lou Pinella gets canned in Chicago - because they have the backbone needed to light a fire under these guys. Next, the entire coaching staff needs to go. The Mets don't hit, can't pitch with any consistency, and make too many base running mistakes and defensive errors for a Major League club. The Bad News Bears was a funny movie, because - well - it wasn't real. The Mets can start the healing process by forgiving Wally Backman for any of his past wrongdoings and give him a coaching job. That guy's got the gritty attitude they need.
From a player perspective, the Mets should try to find takers for Beltran, Reyes, Pelfrey, and even Wright. It pains me to write any of this, but in all honesty, it's time to restock and retool. Wright would net you at least three quality prospects. Ditto for Reyes and Beltran even though they rode the DL the whole year.
The bottomline -- the Mets need a Ty Pennington Extreme Makeover to make them worthy of playing at such a beautiful stadium -- which now actually has some team signage around it (Zing! That's another story). It starts at the top, and then needs to trickle down to the bottom (all Met minor league affliates have been an abomination as well). They have to start somewhere. Even Mr. Met's smile seems to be fake these days and he's plastic.