You'd figure everybody had all the evidence they needed to prove just how inept the 2009 Mets were. They've filled gag reels and faux Monopoly boards with pops that were dropped, bases that went ungraced, fielders who fell and everything that went comically wrong — right?
But wait! Another clip has revealed itself. It's footage from September 26, the 155th game of this besotted season. We pick up the action in the fifth inning of the Mets at Marlins, two outs, David Wright, All-American superstar who always plays the game correctly, on second. Jeff Francoeur lashes a liner into the left-center field gap. Francoeur takes off. So does Wright…sort of. After breaking back to second for a moment through reflexes that would seem antithetical to the situation, David runs for home. Then he jogs. Then he trots. Then he strolls. It's not like there's going to be a play at the plate.
There is, however, a play at second, where Francoeur is digging for a double. Cameron Maybin's throw nails Jeff for the third out of the inning, but that's OK, because David drove in the lead run to make it 3-2 and now he's scored on Francoeur's hi…
He didn't score?
He didn't touch home before Uggla tagged Francoeur?
The run doesn't count?
It's not 4-2?
It's only 3-2?
It is, isn't?
Yikes, yet again.
The maw of the 2009 Mets that sucked the competency out of everybody at one point or another finally got to David Wright. He hadn't been hitting well since he came back, but look what he came back from. He stood at the plate the night before and tried to argue the Mets out of a run — the one Brian Schneider scored on the passed ball David thought he fouled off — but you could admire him wanting another chance to swing with two runners on. This, though? Breaking back to second and turning it off before reaching home? How is that not anything but more embarrassing 2009 footage?
This decade's first year all but ended with Timo Perez slowing down at a critical interval and not scoring. This decade's last year has ended a bazillion times, but Wright not scoring on a hit when his run was etched into scorebooks everywhere…do the Mets ever learn anything at any time in any era?
Timo Perez, most recently (and somehow appropriately) a New Jersey Jackal, is no longer our cause save for the myriad what-ifs he left behind in his not quite cloud of dust. David Wright, however, we worry about in the here and now. But David needs the rest that is coming his way a week from today. David needs this season to end more than any of us do, which is saying a ton. We need David — who just passed Howard Johnson as our most oft-used third baseman of all time — bright-eyed and immensely alert in 2010. We were nowhere with him before he was beaned, but we were beyond nowhere without him. We're not much with him the way he is at this moment.
Season's not over yet but the Mets packed it in Saturday night minutes after Wright's non-run. John Maine, who had the decency to hit Cody Ross and Brett Carroll in the fourth, flattened out his pitches an inning later and the Mets stopped competing thereafter. Oh well, we'll always have the victorious fluke of Friday night when the Mets overcame the Marlins for once and a couple of Mets calmly said, yes, it is good to exact a bit of payback for the last two Septembers…which is something no Met seemed to think was important in their previous Marlins series at Citi Field, when we were easily swept. It struck me that the two Mets who copped to this human instinct were Cory Sullivan, who drove in the winning runs, and Frankie Rodriguez, who recorded the final outs. Neither Sullivan nor Rodriguez were Mets in 2007 and 2008. But Sullivan was on a team that won a pennant fairly recently and Rodriguez helped another team win a World Series. Maybe this is how winners respond in the face of constant losing.
Hard to tell. We've seen lots of losing lately but very few winners.
We also haven't seen much in the way of good old-fashioned bopping. Fernando Tatis smacked his eighth homer of the year last night, putting him one hot streak from the team lead. Of course there have been no hot streaks from Mets power hitters in 2009, which is why you can have eight home runs and be so close to having the most on the club at the end of September. With seven games to go, let's check the leader board:
At this stage of the 2001 season, for what it's worth, Barry Bonds had 68 home runs, or four more than the Mets' top seven sluggers have in 2009. The more salient, less juicy comparison for our troop of fencephobes would be the 1977 season when their predecessors in blue, orange and futility were led by a trio of boppers who could bake no more than a dozen dingers.
No Mets team ever had a lesser total from a home run leader than the '77 crew — and it took the three of them combined to fall sixteen short of George Foster's league-leading 52 home runs. The question now becomes — other than “Is there anything left that can go seriously wrong with seven games remaining?” — will anybody here hit a twelfth and even thirteenth home run? Will our 2009 gift bag include a new standard for absolute impotence?
Sheffield seems done. Wright has dug a hole. Beltran got one very good swat in Saturday night but doesn't yet seem to have the going-deep knack back. Murphy? Daniel needs just one to tie and two to pass Hendu, Hammer and the Dude. It would seem appropriate that the guy derided widely for a) not living up to his post-2008 hype and b) being passed off as any kind of answer at a traditional power-hitting position despite not hitting with much power would wind up with the team lead in home runs. Then again, on the 2009 Mets, Daniel Murphy's eleven home runs stand as a tower of power rising nearly as high as the old Keyspan sign.
I'm going to miss baseball season when this one is over. But I'm not ever going to miss this baseball season.
If you haven't yet, please participate in our readership survey here. Thank you.