Monday, September 29, 2008

The Manifesto (New And Improved)

Guess that sabbatical I suggested last year wouldn't have been such a bad option, eh?

There's a saying, you might have heard of it.

"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."
That's how I feel. Not that this team duped me, but that I let this team dupe me. To a certain extent, we were all fooled by this team ... that this time would have been different. This team, with Daniel Murphy and Argenis Reyes and Nick Evans and an improved Mike Pelfrey and a more focused Oliver Perez and a rejuvenated Carlos Delgado and a revived Jose Reyes and a more honest Snoop Manuel and a less complicated Dan Warthen and Billy Wagner pitching from the windup and all of the moving parts that made the 2008 team less "bored" than their 2007 counterparts and that this team was choke-proof.

We put our blinders on and begged this team to tell us it would be all right. And if it wasn't going to be all right, we begged them to lie to us.

I was fooled. Again. Roger Daltrey, I'm not.

I was looking for the footnote to 2007. Seven games with seventeen to play is a monumental choke job. There were two footnotes that were possible when history was to look back on 2007. One of them was: "The Mets would bounce back from that horrible collapse to make the playoffs the following season." The other was "The Mets would plunge into the abyss after the collapse, missing post season play for the next 25 seasons."

No way did I think of the third option: "The Mets repeated their historic collapse of 2007 in 2008 when they were once again eliminated on the final day of the season by the Florida Marlins." But that's what we're stuck with. Because one choke is a fluke ... two is a trend.

(And three is grounds for contraction.)

Here's what's bothering me already about Collapse Part II: Every time somebody who watches maybe nine innings of baseball all year tell me that this team needs intangible, imaginary concepts like "heart" and "fire" and "guts". I've heard it already. I've used those terms. Sometimes, they apply. This year, they're inconsequential. We don't need "heart" or "fire" or "guts".

We need a bullpen.

Whereas 2007 was one giant choke, 2008 was more like many small chokes encompassed into a big picture that you need to look past the "big picture" to really see. Not that it's any consolation to us, but 2008 was less choke and more suck. If baseball was an eight inning game, the Mets would have had an eight game lead going into the final weekend of the season. Curse you Abner Doubleday for choosing the number 9.

But most of all, curse you Mets bullpen. Curse you Mets bullpen for being the sole ... and I mean the sole reason that the Brewers are going to Philadelphia and not to the golf course where they've been every year since Ben Oglivie roamed County Stadium. And curse you for forcing me to resort to the most simple and the least eloquent to put your accomplishments into a tidy twenty words or less:

You all suck.

When Oliver Perez was slugging through his innings of work on Sunday, I thought of the relief pitchers I would want to keep for '09. The first guy I thought of was Joe Smith. And I'm guessing that Snoop agreed with me. When Perez started slowing down, in came Smith into an impossible situation: bases loaded, one out. He was lucky to escape with only letting one of Ollie's runs to score.

The second guy I thought of? Brian Stokes ... because we need a long man. And he was second in to preserve the tie game that Carlos Beltran created with his two run HR that rocked the house for ... what turned out to be ... the final time. Stokes also didn't disappoint with a scoreless inning.

After that, I really don't trust anybody to come back. But if you had put a gun to my head for a third guy? You guessed it, the third guy in. Scott Schoeneweis.

Um, never mind. I'll stick with two.

But really, if everybody in that bullpen was to depart I wouldn't be heartbroken. Certainly, the only way anybody in that bullpen besides Smith and Stokes attends Opening Day at Corporate Field is either with a ticket or a contract with the Padres. And I'm to the point now ... at this very moment ... if anybody besides Johan Santana were to leave this team, I'd shrug my shoulders in an act of indifference. That includes the Carloses, that includes Jose Reyes, that includes the very handsome David Wright, that includes everyone.

And that's why I'm glad that the current team didn't show their faces at the Shea Goodbye ceremony. Some may disagree, but it took a lot of effort to get the angry crowd (or the portion that didn't leave right after the game like myself) to feel good about anything. And the ceremony actually accomplished that ... seeing this current crop of star-crossed imitators posing as Mets would only send the crowd back to step one of the twelve step program.

We certainly needed one today with the range of emotions the crowd had to go through today. Ticket holders today had just about an hour and a half to go from happy to angry to morose to sullen to nostalgic all at once. After the sixth inning, I'm thinking about changing work schedules so I could get to Game 3 of the Cubs/Mets playoff series on Saturday. By the ninth inning, I'm looking up at the soda stains on the back of the upper deck stands ... trying to take in every nook and cranny that this Stadium had to offer me in the last 32 years of my life, and resigning myself to the fact that "Holy crap, this is it. Once I leave here, that's that."

And that's why I had to stay. Some left, and I can't blame them. Everybody has to deal with these things in their own way. I stayed. I'm glad I did. It started with some reminders as to why we're thought of as second class citizens by the people that provide us with this stupid sport called "baseball", as we were told at 5:23 that the ceremony would start in five minutes. Eight minutes later we were told the ceremony would start in two minutes. This confirmed what we already knew: that this team's only good at counting when they're counting the money they're going to make by selling the dugouts and the championship banners and the NYC parks logos that encase the trees.

Sorry if that comes off as being petulant.

(Some Phillies website referred to my Choke Manifesto from last season as "petulant". I don't necessarily disagree, and there's sure to be more of it in the coming post, and in the coming weeks and months. So if you're expecting anything different, you might be disappointed.)

Then we were reminded that there were very important Mets that had "other things to do" rather than be here for the only closing ceremony that Shea Stadium will ever know. Great, more misery. Not that Nolan Ryan, Hubie Brooks, Mookie Wilson and the like didn't have better things to do. But after what Mets fans had to endure on Sunday, the previous week, and the previous two years, everything felt like a slight.

But then the players who were here came out. And we were excited again for a few minutes. The highlights, of course, were guys like Doc, Darryl, Piazza, and Tom Terrific. But what got me were the guys that helped introduce me to baseball that you don't see anymore. Did anybody really expect to see Dave Kingman come back (or for that matter, show his face in public anywhere?) When was the last time Craig Swan was at Shea Stadium? And my first ever favorite Met, Doug Flynn? They really invited Doug Flynn? Boy, I didn't think this organization had it in 'em to be all-inclusive and recognize players from all eras and not just the good ones. The Mets have been accused of not recognizing their history. Every single criticism in that regard has been well deserved.

But Doug Flynn? Well played, evil geniuses ... well played.

It was all emotional, and it made us forget for a little while that our franchise is once again the joke of the sporting world. But it reminded us that this is it. The old barn is gone forever. No playoff games with the Cubs ... and no next season. It'll be knocked down and made into a parking lot by April.

It's a lot of childhood they're knocking down.

Unfortunately, every time I think about all the good times I've had at Shea, and even the multitude of bad events I've witnessed personally (Pendleton in '87, Gibson in '88, the Yankees clincher in 2000, Scott Speizio in '06), I'll think about the fact that while our bullpen sucks, it was former Met Matt Lindstrom officially closed out Shea Stadium by knocking the Mets out of the playoffs. And that it was the Marlins who were scooping dirt from home plate as a keepsake ... and as a symbol of conquest.

And that the Honeymooners episode that was shown tonight was the one I referenced yesterday: the one with the cornet. Everything was supposed to be louder than everything else. Instead, Shea Stadium exits stage left ... quietly.

26 comments:

MetFanMac said...

The Curse of Endy Chavez is now official.

Omar Minaya: here is an offseason shopping list for you.
1. Bullpen.
2. Bullpen.
3. Bullpen.
4. Bullpen.
5. More bullpen.
Thank you.

Mike said...

if anybody besides Johan Santana were to leave this team, I'd shrug my shoulders in an act of indifference. That includes the Carloses, that includes Jose Reyes, that includes the very handsome David Wright, that includes everyone.

Now, now. I know we're all hurting, but maintain an even keel. Carlos II can go (that's be the older 'Los, the one with the grey facial hair), but we certainly don't wanna see Messrs. Wright, Reyes, or Beltran anywhere but Citifield next year.

Now, as to Delgado, Wagner, Pedro, Castillo, Easley . . . you can warm up the plane.

Steve P said...

Some thoughts about the funeral/tribute to Shea following yesterday's game:

Final pitch--Seaver to Piazza….great touch, fitting exit

Nice to see Willie Mays and Yogi Berra on hand…why couldn't Howie refer to Willie as baseball's greatest living player? (something I hear Joe DiMaggio insisted upon for Old Timer's appearances) Many of us believe he was THE greatest player (living or dead).

Sad they could not get to come back: Jerry Grote, Nolan Ryan, Ray Knight, Mookie Wilson, Davey Johnson, Jon Matlack

Puzzled to see they did invite back: Doug Flynn, George Foster, Jim McAndrew (wasn't Doug Sisk available?)

Personal Faves: Eddie Kranepool, Felix Millan, Jerry Koosman

Still looked great: Cleon Jones, John Stearns, Bud Harrelson

Where was Doc Gooden's parole officer?

Returning Alumni I want to hear more about his post baseball career: George Theodore (doesn't he look like a Seinfeld character?)

Why no mention of Bobby V?

Imagine what this ceremony had been like if 56,059+ fans had not just gotten their hearts ripped from their chests less than 30 minutes before.


Just my $.02

Anonymous said...

Very well done...this might be your best post...
We has this talk a few days ago and though I know where you are coming from, the bottom line is both Randolph and Manuel could only work with what they had and who is responsible: OMAR!!!!
And now the Coupon boys want to give him four more years? Last year was horrible; Unfortunately, I expected it this tme because they are the New York Mets.
Goodbye Shea...I worked there for 17 great seasons and I agree w/ Joe Benigno...it is "Our Dump"
Beezermess

Anonymous said...

With all due respect, shut up. Seriously. I agree about most of what you said, but don't hang this on Wright or Reyes or the Carloses. We are lucky to have them and you need to respect that instead of feeling sorry for yourself. Do you know how many fan bases in all of baseball would trade their entire farm system and their best hitter for those guys? They play hard and they score runs.

This season we had an amazing starting staff and an amazing offense. It came squarely down to 2 things: 1) the bullpen was atrocious and 2) they didn't fire Willie Randolf soon enough.

Rickey Henderson said...

Rickey's not going to waste a single moment more waxing poetic on these bums, but suffice to say: shit better damned well get changed this winter. Disgusting.

K.C said...

Metstra,

I agree that the bullpen sucked. This is something we quickly found out at the start of the season and were reminded of throughout. But there is no excuse for the lack of offense. Five runs in three games. Really, that's all we've got?

I could not believe that on the last day of the season, in a must win game, no one except for Voltron stepped up. No one. It's a shame.

As for the bullpen, the only person I want to see back in 2009 is Joe Smith. I won't let my grief overcome my sanity, I want Reyes, Wright, and Voltron on my team. Everybody else can go where the sun doesn't shine. Yes, I'm looking at you Castillo, M. Anderson, Delgado, Church, Schneider, Castro, Minaya, A. Reyes, all of you.

Unser said...

I have to vent:

1. Saying the bullpen sucks is an insult to other sucky pens. This pen was the worst group I have ever seen or heard of in my 33+ years of following baseball. Everybody but Smith (including Stokes, who, by the way, was saved by Endy yesterday) must go. Schoenweis is just terrible.

2. 5 runs in the last 3 games. 3 and 4 on the final homestand against a team that clinched and a team that was out of it. That is the definition of a choke, notwithstanding an awful bullpen and the absence of Wagner, Maine, Tatis, etc.

3. For me, the death knell sounded on Wednesday night , when Wright could not drive in Murphy from third with no one out in the ninth. When you have a God awful pen, you CANNOT let easy opportunities pass. It's one thing not to get the big hit with men on and two out, but a lead-off triple in the ninth and you can't make contact? Big time choke.

4. Back to yesterday, you CANNOT intentionally walk a batter to load the bases with this pen. These guys DO NOT THROW STRIKES consistently enough. They (including Smith) are incapable of negotiating around hitters like that. Not to toot my own horn, but I've been saying this for months.

5. Delgado's ball (much like Piazza's in 2000) would have been out, or off the wall, in just about any other stadium. He hit it on the screws. Maybe it is time for Shea to go.

6. The Marlins came in chirping about ending our season, silencing the crowd and how much fun they had last season. They grabbed dirt at the end of the game. The Phillies (who rose to the occasion down the stretch again) are laughing at us, for the second year in a row. The Brewers WERE WEARING WILD CARD CHAMPION CAPS BEFORE OUR GAME ENDED!! How many times can other teams throw it in the Mets faces before they do something about it? This team needs to acquire an SOB, an enforcer if you will, to put in that clubhouse next year.

7. Johan's heroics on Saturday, Endy's yesterday (and in '06). Can this team ever consummate these great moments with a win? As Johan says, it's time to be a MAN.

8. I thought the closing ceremony was going to be pitiful after that debacle. But I have to say, it was great. Kingman got me, as did koosman, Gooden and Swan. But the real moment was Seaver throwing the last pitch to Piazza and closing the centerfield doors. I almost lost it then. Good job by the Mets there . . . for once.

9. Once again, I can't watch the post-season.

10. Thanks again MD for all the yuks.

Schneck said...

Great post. I was at Shea Saturday and Sunday and, as you alluded to, what a range of emotions. Saturday I finally sat in the picnic area and we got to stand on the warning track during the National Anthem which was very cool. My son got Ron Darling and Gary Cohen to sign his 'Gary, Keith and Ron.com' shirt which was also cool. We were looking for Keith but were told he got 'stuck in traffic.' Overall Saturday was a great experience including Johan's brilliant performance. Sunday, of course, was different. We got there early since I wanted to maximize my time at Shea on this last day. We were trying to enter Gate A when we noticed a big crowd gathered and, as it turned out, the bus with the former players was unloading. It was amazing to see Piazza, Ventura, Backman, Millan, Swoboda, etc. all getting off the same bus with Met shirts on. An amazing moment. Of course, once the game started it was downhill from there. Ollie was solid out there but as the offense showed no spark (other than that moment where Beltran tied it up) I had this horrible feeling of inevitability. The moment the bullpen took over, I felt as if I knew that it was over. I wish I was wrong but as the two home runs left the park, I felt no surprise. I also stayed for the ceremony. After going to Shea for almost 40 years how could I not. Despite the loss it was impossible not to smile seeing all of players on the field once again bringing back decades of memories. I was relatively successful in not allowing the past memories to make the current situation even more frustrating. I was also glad that our current Mets did not take the field because I think that would have wiped away all feelings of nostalgia and brought back the the repeated heartbreak. Sorry for the length as I had only planned to type out a sentence or two but my fingers would not stop typing once I got started. One last thing...if they bring Schoenweis or Heilman or Ayala back next year, I will be kissing my semi-season ticket package goodbye (assuming it will even be available at Citifield).

caryn said...

I'm shocked that a Phillies fan could use the word "petulant". They must have borrowed someone's Scrabble Dictionary.

My photos of Willie Mays are blurry because at that point I was just crying too much.

Doug Sisk said...

All right now, Im upset too... but hey lets look for solutions. How about this for next year

Reyes
Murphy 2B
Wright
Delgado
Manny
Beltran
Church
Pudge

Now I dont want pudge, but you know minaya will get him.

How can you pick a bullpen? Can anyone? I mean their doesnt seem to be any real way to figure out what they will do from year to year...And those that are steady are either locked up or are being groomed to be closers. Thats why I would not be surprised to see parts of this bullpen back at all
You could have Smith, Feliciano as a loogy, Filthy back, Matt Wise, Heilman if you cant get anything for him could just end up as a long man spot starter. Shoenweis should probably be gone. Get K-Rod.

No more meaningful games in september...thats how you fix this. Domination. Done by September..If anyone remembers, in '06 people were getting worried because the mets were really struggling to clinch. Its a bad september team. So clinch by August. Easy right?

And one last question...

Why Wasnt I invited?

weesle909 said...

Anon #2,
Reyes and Wright were a combined 1 for 8 yesterday.

In a must win game.
At home.
Against a team with nothing to play for.
Against a pitcher the Mets have owned.
Who is a head case with an entire section entitled "Suspensions, confrontations and legal trouble" on his Wikipedia page and I am not even kidding.

1 for 8. You ok with that? That's called 'not getting it done'.

Having said that...
I agree that we need to keep them, and just hope that some day, some way they can go from being good players to great players. Players that get it done in the clutch.

For the record, I am NOT blaming them for yesterday's loss. I'm just saying that, so far in their careers, they simply have NOT come up big in big games...

schneck said...

re: the bullpen...if you get any pitchers in the bullpen not named Schoenweis, Heilman, Ayala and perhaps even Sanchez and Feliciano that combination could not be any worse than what we have now. You get 5 new guys and if a couple of them are semi-reliable we've come a long way. Jesse Orosco did appear to be in game shape, by the way, and should not be discounted as an option.

weesle909 said...

And while I'm in a crappy mood, one other thing I've been meaning to say for a while now...

Can we PLEASE NOT bring the playing of "Taking Care of Business" after a win over to the new stadium?

It's the height of misplaced arrogance to play that. As if winning is something we just always do. What team are they watching?

(But please bring the "Everybody clap your hands...". My son loves that.)

Mark said...

metstra, hardly a collapse you dumbass

Metstradamus said...

Dumbass? That's mature.

schneck said...

I just saw on Metsblog that Jeff Wilpon is quoted as saying that the Mets were "overachievers." I guess blowing 81 saves in the second half would be underachieving? That has to be the most idiotic statement that I have heard (so far) about the 08 Mets. He is a tool.

Unser said...

Not sure if my prior post made it to you but, in a nutshell:

1. Smith is the only member of the bullpen who should remain. The rest don't just suck - that's an insult to sucky bullpens. They are absolutely horrid. And, as Jerry has now learned on several occasions, you can't intentionally walk a batter to load the bases with this bullpen. Not one of them has the ability to throw strikes consistently enough.

2. They watched the Marlins chirp before the series about ending our season. The Phillies laugh in our faces. And now the Brewers wear the wild card champs caps before the end of the Mets game. As Johan says, is this team MAN enough to do something about it? Apparently not.

3. Can't this team use big moments in a game as a spring board to victory? Delgado's grand slam or Murphy's lead-off triple on Wednesday? Beltran's HR yesterday? Endy's catch?

4. Loved the closing cermony. Swan? Seaver? Kingman? Millan? Flynn? Loved it. Loved the crowd reaction to Gooden. Best part was Seaver's last pitch to Piazza and the shutting of the doors in CF. I got chills.

5. Thanks again MD for all the yuks.

Krup said...

When you really stop and think about it, this particular Mets team had no business being in the middle of a pennant race or wild card race with a week to go in the season. This is a team that was all but dead not too long ago. A team that lost key players (as well as their replacements) throughout the entire season (starting pitchers, their closer, both left fielders, both second basemen, their starting right fielder).

So, I'm going to look at this season for what it was: First it was lost and a major disappointment. Then, Snoop took over, kept throwing things at the wall to see if anything would stick, and sure enough, we had some truly fun, exciting baseball. And then, in the long run, any realist knew there was no way it could really last. Even if they scratched their way into the playoffs, they most likely would not have made it past the first round -- not without Tatis and not without John Maine. There are only so many games Johan Santana can win by himself.

Thanks for another great year of commentary, Sir Metstradamus. See you in the Spring...

Ceetar said...

Need to shake up the bullpen...again. This has to come down to scouting. We did have a whole collection of new faces here, and they failed. Heilman had a bad season. Wagner got lost, Sanchez didn't really recover. Minaya certainly tried, but he failed in that respect. So how did this pathetic losers in the Phillies bullpen suddenly show up, and how did they all pick right and Minaya all picked wrong? probabyl some luck, but it needs to be addressed.

What else needs to be addressed? Well first off that pathetic excuse for a 'manager' needs to be released.

Sad to say, but our approach at the plate, and on the mound needs work. Gotta replace Warthon and HoJo,a nd I think it has to come from outside, not within this organization. Mazzone, one of the best pitching coaches, is theoretically available.

Anonymous said...

Here's my question, Metstradamus. Will the Marlins be nominated for the Hall of Fame/Hate or whatever you call it for their disgraceful behavior after the game? Anyone who was there should know what I'm talking about.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to stop by and say thanks Metstra. Yours is one of those places I had to stop everyday. Misery loves company I suppose.

Onto the NFL (Seahawks) and NBA (Knicks). See you in the spring, unless I slit my wrists first.
-- Dave Crockett

Marco DL said...

It took me more than a day to finally recover from my own Black Weekend (not just the Mets, also Manchester City and Belenenses in european soccer helped darken it some more...).

Saw part of the match Sunday night on NASN (while fighting with my father who wanted to see the Milan soccer derby - ah also A.C. Milan won making it worse) and managed to see both Beltran's homer and the two HRs by the Fish in the top of the eight...I refused to watch the remainder of the game since I knew we were not going to pull back again after that, a feeling that sadly has been proven true.

As you all guys say: keep Smith in next year's bullpen and throw the other lot (bar probably Stokes) in the East River mafia style!

Thx for all the laughs and tears you gave me this year Metstra and I'll try to be present also in the offseason because despite all this I'm still a Mets addicted!

If any of you guys is into soccer I suggest to join me and cheer for Manchester City, who can be as heartbreaking as the Mets...

upstate met fan said...

You know, I always thought Francesa hated the Mets. Now I know he despises the Mets. He was the first to suggest that either Jose or David should be Traded. He's a real evil human being. I can't believe we have a few more years of this piece of human waste on the FAN.

Mestra, you got it right. Pitching, pitching, pitching. Bullpen, bullpen, bullpen. Period.

Delgado has to go. Trade Heilman. Adios Ollie.
We know who the usual suspects in the bullpen are who need to go.

Sprinkle a nice Starter and a couple of gutty players and we'll be good shape.


Screw you, Francesa!

Windmill Willie said...

Metstra

Sorry to hear that you were there for this. You could have bet me any amount of money and I wouldn't have believed that this could happen two years in a row...same team...last day at Shea. But you know, as an outsider looking in, its not surprising. The Mets for their entire history have either won dramatically (miracles) or more often crashed and burned. The contrast between the closer at Shea and the one in the Bronx is almost fitting the way their histories have played out.

Some other quickies:

Willie has to be laughing hard. Treated like a hero at the Stadium and watching Poop Manuel and Omar collapse again.

Omar extension? Reminds me of the Knicks giving Isaiah an extension during a playoff run hot streak only to see them collapse down the stretch and become irrelevant for the seasons afterward. Shouldn't Omar be accountable in the same way as Willie?

Bullpen yes. Also, while you can't throw Reyes, Wright, and Beltran out of town....they have to hit in the clutch in order to be considered great or the "franchise". That separates these guys from Jeter and others that deliver in the clutch and win championships. Until they do, they cannot be put in the same breath or measure up.

Given the Mets history, wouldn't it have been a better idea to do the ceremony before the game like they did in the Bronx? Only I don't think those in attendance would have reacted well if David Wright came out to say a few words after the game (ugly).

It makes me sick that Yogi even went to this thing.

Collapse? Agree that it could be worse than last year given that they blew division and wild card. Wild Card to a team that was in a tailspin, had only one starting pitcher on 3 days rest three consecutive starts in a row, and fired their manager the week before.

I thought you would have chosen the Jets game over this...you would have seen some real (good) history with Brett that day. You're a glutton for punishment.

Metstradamus said...

Windmill Willie,

I don't know why it took me until now to respond to this but one question:

Why would it make you sick that Yogi was there?

He WAS a Met player and manager, wasn't he?

He DID lead the Mets to a World Series, didn't he?

You Yankee fans kill me. You have a great closing ceremony of your own that Yogi was practically front and center for, not to mention him being at your all-star game, but that's not good enough for you? He has to be barred from our celebration too? For as much as you say that Met fans are jealous of the Yankees while Yankee fans aren't affected by anything that the Mets do (and you personally have said that ... for the record), it's funny that this, of all things, makes you sick. I for one find that hilarious.