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Danger, Sandy Alderson

As I wrote yesterday [1], the Mets do nothing and then they do bad things and then they do dumb things. That was true again tonight, except it was far worse. Yesterday’s game was depressing and discouraging. Tonight’s was infuriating — a bone-headed, brain-dead disaster [2] that was sickening to witness.

The Mets are utterly horrible and completely unwatchable. This is the worst stretch I can remember since the Mo Vaughn days of winless months at Shea, in terms of a team plummeting through apparent rock bottom after apparent rock bottom. It’s true that bad teams — and by now it’s clear that’s what the Mets are — have stretches like this. But there’s a danger to this 11-27 disaster beyond what it does to the club in the standings and to our blood pressure in the stands.

This isn’t the last two weeks of the season — the Mets have 39 games left, which will be played over the next 43 days. That’s a long time — longer than God made it rain to wash everything off the Earth that wasn’t on an ark, to invoke a disaster that right now seems only slightly larger.  If you average out speedy games on getaway days and extra-inning slogs, it’s a good 117 hours of baseball yet to play.

One hundred and seventeen hours is a lot. At a comfortable pace you could use that time to walk from Manhattan to Pittsburgh, or see the entire run of “The Sopranos,” start over and get halfway through it again. If the Mets are going to play 117 more hours of lethargic, horrendous baseball — which right now seems all too likely — those 117 hours are going to have a corrosive effect on a fan base that is already battered and cynical. It will obscure the message that there is a long-term plan aimed at restoring the Mets to respectability and contention. The effect will be measurable in tickets not renewed and fans who wait to come out to see Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler and other names we don’t know yet, or who never turn out at all. It will make things that are hard enough even harder.

Yes, this was fundamentally a year about stepping away from the old, bad Mets of Omarpalooza contracts, and not yet a year about putting finishing touches on a winning team. The horror of the second half doesn’t invalidate that plan — though the fundamentally disappointing or derailed campaigns for Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Josh Thole and Dillon Gee sure don’t help. But it makes it a lot harder to sell the future to free agents and fans and everybody else. Waiting for the future demands patience, yes — but there’s patience, and there’s enduring a disaster of these proportions. The latter makes it a lot harder to ask for the former when you need to.

I don’t know what the hell the Mets ought to do, but they need to do something — even if it’s just for the sake of doing something. Maybe it’s firing coaches, or putting dirt on the corpse of Jason Bay seven months early, or dispatching players who can’t seem to pay attention to baseball for three hours to Buffalo or the unemployment line. Would any of that fundamentally change the product on the field? I doubt it. But as Terry Collins noted in a different context tonight, in denying/admitting/waxing philosophical about whether his team had quit or not, sometimes perception is reality. The perception around the Mets right now is rotten to the point of dangerous. That can’t be allowed to become reality any more than it already has.