An unfortunate habit that Met fans have acquired over the past few years is that every night is a 'big' game for the team or that it's a 'must-win' and there will be major consequences if the Mets don't perform. Granted, having missed the playoffs by one game two out of the last three seasons, I can understand why the belief exists that every game matters. And don't get me wrong. The games in April and May make a difference. A team's results in the first two months of the season can often be a good indicator of where a team stands compared to the rest of its division. But the reality is that over 162 games, not every game is a "must-win." We may treat it like that because we don't know what's in store for us in the future and at the moment it's the most important game. But the fact of the matter is that the best teams in the Major Leagues still lose 60-70 games every season, so it's usually not worth getting terribly bent out of shape or too excited about games in the middle of May.
I'm not going to lie though: Sunday night's game against the Yankees definitely gave me something to smile about. Not only do I love to see the Yankees lose, but to see K-Rod against A-Rod in that last at-bat was one of the most exciting moments I have witnessed thus far in this short season. Jason Bay hit two home runs against CC Sabathia, Alex Cora came through in the clutch, and Johan was terrific. The ninth inning was certainly stressful, but that's what baseball is all about. While they are painful at times, I enjoy the near-heart-attacks that I experience every night when watching my beloved Metropolitans. And more importantly, I think Sunday night's game was a sign of positive things to come.
For one, it gives the Mets a jolt of energy going into their series with Philadelphia that starts Tuesday evening. By taking two of three from what many consider to be the best lineup in baseball, the Mets proved this weekend that they are not rolling over. They are not letting what the New York media is saying affect them, and they are going about their business as usual. Back to just a game under the .500 level again, the Mets have a chance this week to reboot their season in what some may see as a crucial series with the Phillies.
From a baseball standpoint, Met fans have several things to be happy about from this past weekend, which should give them some confidence going into this week. Jason Bay seems to have finally come alive, the Mets added another reliable arm to the bullpen by activating Ryota Igarashi from the disabled list, and the team hit several times this weekend with runners in scoring position. Something else I'm excited about: no more John Maine or Oliver Perez. More than anyone else on the Mets, there is no question that these two pitchers have caused more stress to Met fans this season than anyone else. I am glad to see that R.A. Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi have replaced them, and I am excited to see how they live up to the hype that has been surrounding them over the past few months.
In terms of Jerry Manuel's job safety, I personally believe the media is exaggerating how much danger Manuel is actually in. Is Minaya concerned? Absolutely. He should be. He had expectations for a team that aren't being met, and he probably wants to find someone he believes can do a better job. I think Jerry has to make adjustments. He has to realize that he can't send his best players up to the plate to bunt all the time, and he can't overwork the bullpen as much as he has been. I don't think the front office is prepared to fire Manuel this weekend, but they are certainly keeping an eye on him. Being a manager is one of the hardest jobs in baseball. It is a job that often takes all of the credit and all of the blame although neither is often justified. The players have to perform. The Mets have to do what they did this weekend, and they have to do it on a consistent basis. If they do, they will be in contention in September and will have a chance of making the playoffs. And if they don't, I think Bob Melvin might be getting a call sometime soon.