The Mets are now 1-5 on a West Coast trip against crappy teams. Tonight they got beat by Max Scherzer, he of the David Bowie eyes, and Trent Oeltjen, a young Aussie who really ought to retire the moment the Mets leave town. (Trust me, Trent — baseball isn't this easy.) They got beat because they sent out a lineup composed of guys who couldn't make the Junior Varsity, because they were unlucky, and because at various points they played flat, indifferent and frankly lazy baseball for the second night in a row.
One more final game in the desert and it's back home for 11 against the Giants, Braves and Phillies, all considerably tougher competition than the Padres and Diamondbacks. Barring a jaw-droppingly unlikely series of events, that homestand will be the final Waterloo, the stretch after which even the true believers will have given up.
The hope here is that it doesn't mark the season going from unfortunate to ugly. Because it's looking like it sure could.
It's been clear for some time that 2009 was going to be a harvest eaten by locusts, a famine year that reminds you baseball is fickle. Which is taxing to live through, but part of being a fan. But a sour spring has turned into a nauseating summer, with mutterings about subpar medical care and willful front-office blindness, the drip-drip of revelations about Tony Bernazard's reign of terror and Omar's self-immolation at the podium. That wasn't enough to necessarily turn the fans against a wounded team, but now the effort on the field has to be called into question, too. It was bad enough that Livan Hernandez showed up Alex Cora and Luis Castillo half-assed a throw to Daniel Murphy; it was worse that these misdeeds came a night after Jerry Manuel's made his displeasure with Angel Pagan, Fernando Tatis, Mike Pelfrey, Anderson Hernandez and Murphy evident.
Omar Minaya, for all his many faults, was probably going to get a pass for 2009 because his team got hit by lightning. Then he had to pick an embarrassingly public feud with a reporter, and now his future seems very much in doubt. Jerry Manuel, for all his many faults, was probably going to get a pass for 2009 because his team got hit by lightning. But now his charges are playing like a team that's stopped listening to its manager — and much more of that could put his future in doubt.
I've been more than clear that I think Omar should go, and I think as a strategist Jerry is a pretty good player's manager. So what's wrong with a purge of the ranks? Nothing in the long term, I suppose. But purges are generally the culmination of ugly, bloody times. Citi Field has flaws that good conscience demands the Mets address before 2010, but so far it's been a relatively bright spot in an otherwise horrible year. That can change quickly, however, and it will if the Mets come home and play the kind of indifferent garbage-time baseball they've shown us on this road trip. The Wilpons are already staring at the likelihood of inaugurating their new park with 90 losses, which is bad enough; having the Mets slump across the wire pelted by well-earned boos would be a whole lot worse.
Say “boo” and you're three-quarters of the way to saying “book.” Take your mind off the carnage with Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets, available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or a bookstore near you. Keep in touch and join the discussion on Facebook.