"It hurts doesn't it? Your hopes dashed, your dreams down the toilet. And your fate is sitting right besides you." -John Malkovich in RoundersWell team, you did it.
For a franchise that gave us the Terry Pendelton home run, the Mike Scioscia home run, the Worst Team Money Could Buy, Bobby Valentine's fake mustache, a bases loaded walk to end a playoff series, the 2000 Subway Series, eighteen Brian Jordan grand slams, countless losses to Atlanta, trading a number one prospect who would one day lead the American League in strikeouts for a guy who ran off the field with an arm injury never to be seen at Shea Stadium again, a game seven loss to an 83 victory St. Louis Cardinal team that had no business getting as far as they did, you...the 2007 New York Mets...have done the impossible.
You topped 'em all.
You blew a seven game lead with seventeen games to play.
But it goes much deeper than that.
You had the two bottom teams in the division over the last two weeks...and nothing but the last two teams in the division.
You had a two and a half game lead with seven games left. Oh, that's seven home games left.
You went 1-6 during a group of games that you really should have won at least four of just by rolling out of bed.
You allowed a team that pulled a bush league stunt by announcing publicly that tickets to a one game playoff would go on sale at 11AM, then starting the sale an hour early yet only telling their own fan base, steal the division from you.
You wiped the 1964 Phillies off the map, and brought their franchise back to even when it comes to these things.
You allowed a man who once punched his wife with a closed fist on a Boston street throw his glove in the air and feel feelings that I should have been feeling tonight.
You proved right a man who made a stupid statement at the beginning of the season when he said "finally, we have the best team on paper." I said then that Jimmy Rollins was wrong, and I still say he's wrong. The Philadelphia Phillies did not have the best team on paper. The New York Mets, however, did.
But guess what the Philadelphia Phillies are: They're the best team in the National League East. And that's what counts.
And guess what you New York Mets are, for having the best team on paper: you're a bunch of underachievers who have become the joke of baseball...except there's no punch line besides the ones being written by Leno and Letterman. There's just a punch to my gut.
And you pulled all of this off during the same season that the Yankees came back from about 48 games behind the wild card to make the playoffs for the hundredth straight season, ensuring that Mets fans are going to be ridiculed for the rest of their natural lives.
Oh, and by the way, you have let them off the hook for choking away a 3-0 ALCS lead in 2004.
Anybody who wants to tell me that the 2004 ALCS is still a worse choke than the 2007 Mets were, I'm cutting you off at word one. The Yankees lost four straight games to a World Champion Boston Red Sox team. The Mets, meanwhile, lost six games out of seven to a bunch of B-list stunt doubles who had nothing to play for.
Let me repeat that because it's vaguely important: Nothing to play for.
And now, you're just like them. Because you have nothing to play for.
But I bet the champagne tastes sweeter, right Willie?
But here's what Willie said that bugged me even more...he said it after today's final nail, when he was asked if he had anything to say about the fans:
"Real Met fans know we played our hearts out."Gee, that's sounds a lot like "Real Met fans aren't going to criticize this team...they're going to say aw shucks and we'll get 'em next season and stuff like that."
Yeah, Mr. Randolph, I want to ask you a follow up question if I may: Who are you to tell me what a real Met fan is or does? I'm sorry, have you been here playing, managing, or watching this team for thirty years? No, you haven't. You've been here for four years. Three as a manager, one as a player. And you're going to tell me what a real Met fan does? Or does your years as a Yankee give you the entitlement to tell me who I am?
Here's the problem, and it's something I absolutely despise when I hear it from a player or a manager: They like to say "You've never put on a uniform...you don't know what it's like to be me." And everybody who's ever said that has been right.
But guess what, that works both ways, Willie. You see, you, and everybody who plays for you have never...ever...been in my shoes. And I think you all need to be reminded of that. You don't blindly invest your time, money, and faith in a group of men who don't know you from Adam, but you know way too much about them. And you support them. You support them with your money...with your time...and with your allegiance. You support them because you hope that one day they'll give you that feeling of exhilaration that makes you feel like you're actually one of them.
You hope that. You hope for the best. And you expect the worst. But beyond your wildest dreams you never expect that the worst is going to include a future hall of fame pitcher giving up seven runs in a third of an inning, and hit an opposing pitcher for the first time in his career, and then tells me that he's merely "disappointed", in what surely will be his last outing before he embarks on his farewell tour back in Atlanta, where he will get a standing ovation just for what he did on Sunday.
And guess what else you don't get to experience: at the end of the season, you get to talk to the media for a day, and then you go home for three months. You go to your nice homes, with your wonderful families, and shelter yourselves from everything until spring training.
Meanwhile, we're stuck here. We're stuck to carry the brunt of what you failed to accomplish. We get to hear it from Yankee fans who ring our phones, taunt us for hours on end, and in turn affect our wonderful families who, with word and deed, live and die with us as we live and die with you.
And speaking of die, here's what else we get to deal with:
Wallace Mathews, at this very moment, is doing a jig while writing his latest Met-bashing column...this one he doesn't even have to work at.
John Kruk has probably poisoned himself alcoholically with all the toasts he's drunk to tonight.
Mike Francesa and Chris Russo? They're probably lathering each other in Crisco, giggling like school girls in anticipation of the piling on they're going to do tomorrow.
You, the 2007 New York Mets, have proved them all right. The Mount Rushmore of baseball stupidity? You've raised their IQ about 100 points in one fell swoop.
Congratulations. It must have taken a lot of work to do all that you did. More work than, oh I don't know, winning one or two more games down the stretch like you were supposed to do.
Good thing it's just a game, right boys?
You must think I'm a little bit harsh. Well, you have it coming. Being a Met fan sometimes is like learning how to ride a bicycle...teetering back and forth trying to find your balance between being a supporter, and being a smart ass. You won the division title last season while blowing the field away. With that, you won the benefit of the doubt. You lost Game seven to the Cardinals, but they did go on to win the World Series. So you got a pass.
You didn't look the same in 2007 as you did in 2006. But you had the division lead over two improved teams in Atlanta and Philadelphia...and we all knew that you wouldn't run away with it in '07 like '06. So you got a pass.
Your bullpen blew lead...after lead...after lead. You lost four straight heartbreaking games to the Phillies in Philadelphia. But you went and got that seven game lead. So you got the benefit of the doubt.
When you lost the lead, and you lost the playoffs, you have lost the benefit of the doubt.
You lost the benefit of the doubt when you all tried to steal third base with two outs. You lost the benefit of the doubt when you couldn't hold a three run lead in the bottom of the ninth...or a five run lead in the top of the fourth. You lost the benefit of the doubt when you forgot that there was a force play at third base with runners on second and third. You lost the benefit of the doubt when you stopped running out grounders, and started socializing with every middle infielder every time you got to second base...which wasn't very often down the stretch.
You know what I've lost? Hope. After Yadier Molina, after Adam Wainright? After that happened? I hoped that spring training would start the next day. Things were still going rather well. You actually went farther than the Yankees, you had something to build on, and 2007 was the season for "the next step."
Little did I know that "the next step" would be right off a cliff. Because do you know what you've made me hope for now? You've made me hope that when spring training starts in 2008, I hope you guys don't show up. I hope you take a sabbatical. I hope that there's a Mets-free 2008. I hope Tradition Field stays locked up. Because to see you guys swing bats and run pitching drills and dig out curveballs from the dirt is only going to drive me to drink all over again...just as you did tonight.
What's the point? What's the point in going through all of this again if you're just going to find new ways to crush our spirit? So you can have that inevitable spring training brawl with the Marlins to get your revenge? Oooh, I can't wait! That'll make me feel better.
I know that's not possible. I know you'll be back. Well, at least some of you will be back. And against what I think is my better judgement, I know I'll be back. I know that hoping for a sabbatical is unrealistic. But did it turn out to be any less realistic than hoping that you'd make the playoffs this season?
So go. Enjoy your offseason. But lord help you if I see a picture of any of you in the act of actually enjoying your offseason. Lord help you if I see you in any stupid photo layouts for fashion magazines, or eating fancy steak dinners with your agents. The only thing I want to see you eating is the humble pie that you've forced all of us to eat as local and national media will continue to ridicule the Met fans you leave behind...who's only crime was throwing their allegiance behind you...while we have to sit back and take every last drop of it because there's nothing we can say on these blogs to defend you.
Hey, after the humble pie, you can have some chicken if you subscribe to that "you are what you eat" theory.
Just make sure it's boneless.