Where's The Pride? Mets Quit On Season
"Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy Autumn-fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more."
--Alfred, Lord Tennyson: Tears, Idle Tears
You know when players, in any sport, it doesn't just have to be about baseball, start playing to save their manager's, or their coach's job?
You know the story: a team that sucks all season long whose manager or coach's head seems inevitably on the chopping block and then suddenly, the team rises above their talents, or reaches them, flies above their station and goes on a torrid winning streak and either makes the playoffs by hair's breadth or just misses them but either way, giving their fans and the ownership reason to believe that the coach/manager can still inspire his jugheads to victory?
Wayne Fontes practically made a career of doing that for the Detroit Lions back in the 90s when they'd bottom out at the beginning of the season and roar back just in time to save the coach's job every year until finally, they failed and Fontes was gone forever...
You see, I was just trying to lull you back off the ledge with distracting tales of hope and glory from another sport but now reality returns: smack!, Mets lose another to the Nats, this time 6-3.
Rather than rallying around their manager, the Mets seem to be saying collectively, Please fire this pigeon of a man, he's of no inspiration to any of us, he just sits there like a wax museum figurine, muttering platitudes and making sure he doesn't get tossed from a game because he's too cool for that, he's an ex-Yankee after all. Too cool to be associated with we subterranean upstarts and losers, we inglorious and perpetually useless Mets."
In fact, that's Willie over there in his office secretly watching replays of his beloved and successful Yankees, dreaming about the days when he stood out there in Yankee Stadium waving Yankees home from third base. Oh what love. What dedication. He calls Joe Torre nearly every day, Hey Joe, can we tape another Subway commercial, can we Joe, huh, can we? Hey Joe, will you be my friend, hey Joe, can I have my old job back in time for the playoffs?"
I think there's no way to avoid the meaning of a team losing 14 out of 17 of the most important games of the season. The Mets have quit on Willie Randolph and given his utter lack of expression about it, perhaps Willie Randolph has quit on the Mets as well.
Oh, players are loathe to hear they've quit on a season, love repeating some mindless mantra about how hard they're trying, how tough the losses are, etc and blablabla, ad nauseum. But the fact of the matter is, unless you're the KC Royals, you don't lose 14 of 17 and you certainly don't lose 14 of 17 when you're allegedly in the midst of a playoff charge.
Not unless you've quit, not unless you've had your spirit snapped in two and the manager is unable to lift you back into an upright position.
It's a Bitch's Brew, this potion of losing the Mets are gulping down as if it were the last free beer on a Labour Day picnic.
Look at this:
Two nights in a row, the Nationals have someone get tossed from a game. First Frank Robinson gets tossed in Game 1 then in Game 2, Jose Guillen blows a gasket, is thrown out of the game and then tosses shit on the field, still outraged. Granted, Jose Guillen is a bit of a nutter anyway who is well known to crack under pressure but at least the Nats are showing some life, showing they aren't ready to end their season, showing they still know how to win by taking their first two at Shea in this series. When was the last time the Mets took the first two games of an away series? Arizona, the apex of the season, that's where.
Meanwhile the Mets accept their fate of losing like quiet little church mice too busy nibbling on their scraps of cheese as their whiskers twitch, too busy to notice the losses left in their wake like little mouse pellets of shit.
Guillen took a called third strike from Kris Benson leading off the inning. After he went back to the bench, he was thrown out of the game by plate umpire Bill Miller, sparking his tantrum, his spark of life, his spastic rallying cry.
"He yelled and cursed at me out of the dugout," Miller said. "I ejected him. That's it."
Guillen first tossed a batting helmet out of the dugout. After a bat boy retrieved that, he threw a few bats onto the field. Once those were collected, he tossed a shinguard.
"It was a ball," Guillen said. "I don't like it, I let my anger come out, I did whatever I need to do."
Coincidentally, mere moments after Guillen was tossed and nearly spontaneously combusted on the field, Preston Wilson and Vinny Castilla clubbed home runs on back-to-back pitches, turning a tie game into a 6-3 victory, a rallying point, a distinct moment that yet again showed the difference between a team with guts and a team of gutless quitters.
With 16 games to play, the Nats are now just three back of the Florida Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies. Know where the quiet little church mice quitters are? So fucking far back from the NL Wildcard chase they might as well have continued right on losing after their five loss start to this season - we didn't request the side dish of a false sense of excitement.
The more games the Mets lose in this fashion, the further they slide down into oblivion, the more apparent it becomes that Willie Randolph is not the man to get the job done.
He's a far cry from his beloved Yankees, who instead of losing 14 of their last 17, have actually WON 12 of their last 17, 22 out of their last 32. Wonder where the Mets would be had they put in a similar performance? They'd be leading the NL Wildcard race by about three games, that's where!
So in case those keeping score at home have fallen asleep, Willie Randolph is NO Joe Torre. He's a glorified third base coach who is obviously in over his head.
On the other hand, perhaps everyone should be thanking the Mets for holding out as long as they did.
You know, if the Mets really do suck this bad - hard to believe, I know with one of the better starting rotations in the league, a guy who single-handedly nearly led the Astros to the World Series last season, and a few Hall of Famers on their roster, but bear with me on this one, then perhaps the Mets have actually outperformed their true level of talent for most of the season - perhaps they really are no better than a .500 team, or perhaps they are stuffed with AAA players up a year or two too early or perhaps they are just a very, very expensive version of the Cincinnati Reds, who knows?
And if the Mets really DO suck and if they've simply been playing over their heads all season (will this be Manager Willie's rationale in post-season discussions on how to save his job?) then this collapse was inevitable. You can't keep your head above water forever if you don't know how to swim. Adrenaline only goes so far.
So rather than pissing on the memory of this season and becoming rapidly disgusted with the efforts of this pathetic assemblage of baseball riff raff before us, perhaps we should all give them the sustained and appreciative applause they deserve for holding on for so long as they did before finally letting go.
That they have let go at all, that they've finally quit on us after threatening to all season, is proof enough that pride is an empty word they are mouthing at this moment and that the quitters are rising to the top. There's no one better than the manager to blame.
Now for a quick glance at the non-quitting portion of NL Wildcard race, the Phillies overcame Andruw Jone's 50th homer of the season to mash the Braves, 12-4. In doing so, they moved into a tie with Florida for first place in the NL wild-card standings, and closed within five games of NL East-leading Atlanta with their third straight win over the Braves. (See, it CAN be done) - They've won five of six overall since Houston swept a three-game series in Philadelphia last week.
See, swept by the Astros and win five of their next six, not LOSE 14 of their last 17.
This is an example of a WINNING team, a team that doesn't QUIT.
Just so we all have that clear in our minds.
After today folks, it's all a parody. No more taking these lads seriously. We at Archie Bunker's Army will make the dying embers of this wretched season interesting for the readers, even if the Mets won't.