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It’s Too Late to Turn Back Now

The Mets, losers of seven consecutive ballgames, will win again. They may win their next scheduled date this very afternoon against the Brewers. Jacob deGrom [1] is still one of the finest pitchers around and the Brewers are still — despite taking the first two games of this series — a last-place team with the worst home record in all of baseball.

And if they don’t win today, there’s always tomorrow. There are 89 tomorrows remaining in their 2015 journey. It only feels as if the suddenly sub-.500 Mets will lose them all. They won’t.

Comforted? Probably not. The Mets’ strengths are starting pitching and a schedule that includes as many potential patsies as existential threats. Starting pitching hasn’t prevented them from losing seven in a row [2], nor have the Brewers. Nor has the time-honored team meeting. Terry Collins took a page from the Frankie Goes To Hollywood playbook [3] and told his team to relax [4]. Nine innings later, Frankie Rodriguez [5] Who Went To Milwaukee relaxed the Mets off to dreamland. Prior to our old closer closing the door, it was the generically named Jimmy Nelson [6] taking care of our former first-place team on two hits over eight innings. Jimmy Nelson was not a household word even inside the Nelson household before Wednesday night. I’m guessing “spatula” had a higher Q rating.

Opponents seem immaterial at the moment. Words seem immaterial at the moment. Collins himself suggested team meetings, like his hitters, don’t do much of anything [7]. This one didn’t. Nor did the resting of certain underachieving regulars in favor of massively unproven reserves…as if one can tell them apart anymore.

What strikes me as strange about these Mets who need to be told to relax is the lack of any sense of urgency surrounding them. When you listen to their manager postgame or their general manager anytime, the message always seems to be we did everything right, it’s just the darn scoreboard that didn’t cooperate. Players prepare, coaches coach, scouting reports are compiled, issued and devoured. Nobody performs.

It doesn’t help when your presumably prepared players are incapable performers. Do you get mad at your cats for not calculating sales tax? No, because you know they can’t. And the Mets are loaded down currently with players who can’t in general. It would have been nice to have had a foolproof contingency plan in case key players became unavailable in the course of the season, as occasionally (or often) happens. The Mets didn’t have one of those. The Mets’ bench when this campaign commenced consisted of Anthony Recker [8], John Mayberry [9], Ruben Tejada [10] and Kirk Nieuwenhuis [11]. The ranks have thinned unmercifully from there.

Perhaps someone is working the phones to acquire Grade B talent to reinforce the outer edge of this roster. Grade B would be an improvement. Again, though, the Mets give the impression that you’re the crazy one for wondering why Eric Campbell [12] is the default answer every time there’s a personnel shortfall. Or why of all the positions Wilmer Flores [13] is minimally qualified to play he is continually assigned the one he finds most baffling. Or why their only operative power hitter, Curtis Granderson [14], isn’t deployed in a traditional power-hitting spot in the lineup on the off chance another Met reaches base in front of him. Or why Juan Lagares [15]’s once-beautiful throwing arm is allowed to strain itself worse before succumbing to inevitable surgery.

We are allowed to wonder these things. It would be easier to slough it all off on the perpetually murky state of the Wilpons, their financial follies and MLB’s blatant negligence regarding the New York National League franchise’s inability/unwillingness to compete vigorously in today’s bustling baseball marketplace, but then what are you left with? You’re left with 89 games worth of abyss, from K-Rod to Que Sera, Sera [16], and it’s not like we’re ever going to stop staring down into it and gauging where it might level off. To say “no chance, it doesn’t matter” to the people who buy the tickets, subscribe to the packages, provide an audience for the sponsors and care because there is no alternative to caring doesn’t work. For better or worse, it’s too late to turn back now. Whatever will be, will be, but it’s our constitutional right as fans to keep wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’ it will be at least marginally better before it grows prohibitively worse.

Anything can happen with 89 games remaining. Even a Mets win, sooner or later.