To be a Mets fan requires an incredible amount of patience, discipline, and tolerance, among other traits. It's a non-stop job that will often cause much crying, screaming, cheering, and clapping throughout an average day. But most importantly, being a Mets fan means knowing that there are 162 games in a season. There is always time to make up for your mistakes, and there is always time to catch other teams.
As the Mets leave South Florida tonight to begin a short two-game series against Atlanta Monday evening, there are probably many things on everyone's mind. How did the Mets, a team that was in first place just a couple weeks ago, fall to last place in their division in the blink of an eye? Well for starters, their starting pitching (no pun intended) has been dreadful. With a rotation that seemed to be so strong during the ten-game home stand a few weeks ago, it seems like every pitcher is having their share of trouble on the mound. Oliver Perez can't get past the fourth inning, John Maine can't throw strikes, and Jon Niese has apparently reaggravated his right hamstring, which cost him a large part of 2009. It's not a hard concept: all winning ball clubs start with great starting pitching. And I am not even talking about velocity. I am talking about the lack of location and movement from all of the starters as of late, even Johan. Dan Warthen needs to seriously help this rotation find itself quickly -- or else the Mets will find themselves in a far worse spot than they are already in.
Secondly, Jerry Manuel is absolutely driving me crazy with the starting lineup. I am glad the Jose Reyes-batting-third experiment has apparently come to an end. Reyes is a leadoff hitter. The reality is that he doesn't give you very much power; to put Reyes in the three hole when you have guys like Angel Pagan and Luis Castillo hitting ahead of him is truly a waste. He belongs in the leadoff spot, where he can reclaim his role as the table setter for this team. The clincher for me was Thursday night against the Marlins, when Manuel had Reyes bunting with Castillo on second and no one out in a tie game in the ninth inning. If Reyes is a truly the number three hitter that Jerry Manuel believes he is, then why is he bunting in that situation? Manuel was simply announcing that he didn't believe in who he thinks is his best hitter to get a hit in that situation. Instead of letting him swing away, he had him attempt to lay down a sacrifice bunt, which is something Jose has proved time and time again that he has trouble doing. Not surprisingly, he was unsuccessful and eventually popped out to shallow left field, and the Mets left the runner stranded, allowing the Marlins to win the game 2-1. Reyes was meant to be a leadoff batter. He gets on base, makes things happen, and is as clear a key to the Mets success as anyone else on the roster.
Things are tough right now for the Mets and the Met fan base, that is not a secret. And it's easy to say that the Mets are done and won't recover from this losing streak. I know I for one am very frustrated. It's hard to keep turning on SNY every night knowing that the Mets are in a funk. But the reality is it's still May. They still have over 100 games to make up ground, and just by observing this team over the first six weeks of the season, I know they are not going to give up, no matter how bad things get. All teams have their share of bumps in the road, and this just happens to be one for the Mets. I still believe the Mets are able to do a lot of things right and have the capability of being competitive in the National League. It is still way too early to tell how the Mets will end up come September, but enjoy the ride until then. Be thankful that you're not a Pirates fan, and know that you're in the same boat as thousands of other Met fans. Lastly, always remember that Ya Gotta Believe!