Good morning. This is the 1,583rd game after which we have spoken to you from this blog, where so many losses have been noted that shaped the history of this franchise. Each time we have done so to discuss with you some matter that we believe affected the Metropolitan interest.
In all the decisions we have made in our blogging life, we have always tried to do what was best for the franchise. Throughout the long and difficult period of Terry Collins, we have felt it was our duty to persevere, to make every possible effort to complete the term of season to which you elected to root.
In the past few days, however, it has become evident to us that the Mets no longer have a strong enough competitive base in the standings to justify continuing that effort. As long as there was such a base, we felt strongly that it was necessary to see the mathematical process through to its conclusion, that to do otherwise would be unfaithful to the spirit of that deliberately difficult process and a dangerously destabilizing precedent for the future.
But with the disappearance of that base, we now believe that the competitive purpose has been served, and there is no longer a need for the process to be prolonged.
We would have preferred to carry through to the finish whatever the personal agony it would have involved, and our readership unanimously urged us to do so. But the interest of the franchise must always come before any personal considerations.
From the discussions we have had with Metropolitan and other observers, we have concluded that because of the Terry Collins matter we might not have the support of the mathematics that we would consider necessary to back the very difficult decisions and carry out the duties of this blog in the way the interests of the franchise would require.
We have never been a quitter. To leave this season before its term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in our server. But as bloggers, we must put the interest of Metsopotamia first.
Therefore, the Mets have resigned the pennant race effective at 5:09 PM yesterday. The 2015 season will be sworn in as relevant at 7:05 tonight in Philadelphia.
My fellow Mets fans, our long Nationals nightmare is over. It took 13 innings that felt like 26 spread out over a Thursday afternoon that protruded into the Beltway rush hour, but when it was over, it was over. The playoff hunt the Mets never entered had moved on without them.
Today, forty years after President Nixon gave way to President Ford, and three weeks after returning from the All-Star break fueled by momentum and imbued with hope, the Mets’ record stands at 54-61 — the exact same mark they held after exactly as many games played last year. And last year nobody was entertaining any notions of contention as late as the 115th game.
I doubt any of us were this year, really, but there was that 8-1 stretch when things were looking up and the division was looking soft and the hitting was looking formidable. Now none of those perceptions look remotely viable. All we have, usually, is pitching. Pitching’s a very good thing to have. If you have only one thing, have pitching. But don’t have only one thing. The Mets are proving time and again that pitching alone can’t carry your aspirations as far as a 116th game.
On Thursday, Jacob deGrom was deGood if not deGreat. Yet his relative struggles did not signal deFeat. The Mets hung tough with the first-place Nationals across the National League Rookie of Last Month’s six innings of work. Then almost every relief pitcher in creation bottled Washington up in committee. Chairman Collins’s legislative maneuvers were plentiful, offering up three double-switch amendments in the course of debate.
Taking out the best defender America has seen since Lincoln held off dissolution of the union and replacing him with the James Buchanan of free-agent signings didn’t automatically end the Mets’ day (that would be Bryce Harper’s charge five innings later), but it sure as shootin’ didn’t help…which might also be the epitaph on Collins’s managerial headstone soon enough. Though by guiding the Mets to that aforementioned inspiring 8-1 stretch, he probably already guaranteed his return to office for 2015. It doesn’t take much for a middling-performing incumbent to get himself retained in these parts.
DeGrom did what he could do. Six relievers not named Carlos Torres did what they could do. Daniel Murphy — with three hits versus his teammates’ six in those thirteen innings — did what he could do. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, making up for his lack of Lagaresness with a host of hustle, did what he could do with two diving catches that temporarily staved off the inevitable.
Conversely, Eric Young, Jr., didn’t do a damn thing correctly early on when he cut off Lagares on a single and Adam LaRoche on second. Not only did EYJ take the ball out of the hand of the guy with the world-class arm, he tossed the ball back into the infield as if making some kid in the stands’ wish come true. Yes, he made a lot of kids in the stands’ wishes come true — all the kids who came out to root for LaRoche to score and the Nationals to win.
Young’s throw goes nowhere. Pitchers’ throws (other than the ones they deliver to the plate) go everywhere. Fundamentals aren’t a strong suit of this ballclub, which isn’t a positive sign when you’re supposed to be making up in scrappiness what you’re not providing with talent. Of all the elements one can attribute to a manager’s influence, that’s probably the biggest. That and that business about not losing the clubhouse. God forbid you lose the clubhouse. Imagine how much further under .500 than merely seven games the Mets would be if Collins wasn’t such an expert communicator.
He’s apparently a regular Ron Ziegler in there.
For a spell, just before the break, the Mets hit home runs and everything else. Just after the break, they all stopped hitting. David Wright, whose left shoulder might benefit from not trying to carry the weight of the Mets practically all by its lonesome, said something at the time to the effect of “you couldn’t expect us to keep it up forever,” which is probably a symptom of David Wright having been around a franchise that never keeps up anything wonderful for long. Lucas Duda broke out and homered almost daily. Then Duda recalibrated his internal controls for something approximating human and now nobody but Murphy’s hitting and nobody at all is hitting them out and when you’re not scoring, all the pitching in the world is going to bring you nothing more than a lingering stalemate at best, an extra-inning loss at last.
The Mets have just completed seven games against quality competition. They dropped five of them. The two they won — deGrom outperfecting Peavy; Wheeler asserting his pitcherhood — required minor miracles. When you are, for example, a 1986-style team of destiny, you take those and you add on to them with a string of mundane successes. When you’re the 54-61 Mets of 2014, there are few mundane successes. There were none against San Francisco at Citi Field or Washington at Nationals Park. There haven’t been enough successes of any kind to draw the Mets to within fewer than eight games of a playoff spot with 47 to go and a torrent of teams cluttering their path.
It’s time to issue some executive orders:
• Inaugurate Flores at shortstop.
• Nominate den Dekker to serve on the active roster and actually play a little.
• Pass a joint resolution that grants us a glance at Syndergaard and another glimpse of Montero.
• Caucus with anybody who has a bat they’re willing to horsetrade.
The 2014 Mets are now out of the race they were never in. In definitively leaving it, they do so with this prayer: May 2015’s grace be with them in the weeks ahead.
Also, may you take a listen to Sam Maxwell and me on Bedford & Sullivan, Sam’s continuing podcast series devoted to New York’s National League legacy. On this episode, we touch far more bases than the Mets did during their visit to Washington.
And may you take a glance at Jason’s and my respective responses to Heather Quinlan’s query as to whether the ’86 Mets were truly a team of destiny. Heather is creating what’s shaping up as a very engaging and enlightening documentary about That Championship Season, crowdfunding be willing. Visit the project’s Kickstarter page for more information on how to make this dream work.