|September 10, 2008|
|Will the Mets Repeat the Great Fold-O of '07? No Way|
|By Kevin McCauley|
|Will they or won’t they? The great question of the day: Will the New York Mets repeat the great Fold-O of last September? It’s enough to drive a loyal Mets fan to drink.|
Let’s take time out from the Sarah Palin watch. [The latest bulletin: our “gal” is currently under the microscope for billing the good people of Alaska for 312 days that she spent at home during her first 570 days in office. Ah, the wonders of Wasilla. Palin’s aggressive “per diem allowance” practice must have slipped through the cracks of McCain’s crackerjack “vetting team.”]
It’s back to the Mets. The boys in blue-and-orange are as usual sweating things out. The Phils took the Marlins last night, creeping within one and a half games of the Amazin’s.
Relief pitching is in disarray. Veteran Billy Wagner has been shut down for the rest of the season as well as next year, leaving the Mets without a closer. The 37-year-old Wags, who supplied much needed juice to the somewhat laconic Mets’ clubhouse, is now kaput. The Mets, however, are 22-10 without Wagner, whose outings supplied an adventure a minute, equal to antics of the unloved Armando Benitez.
The relief pitching is coming down to the unheralded Luis Ayala, a recent Washington Nationals pick-up, and a motley crew featuring Brian Stokes, Aaron Heilman, Joe Smith and Pedro Feliciano. Note to Duaner Sanchez: Take a hike for the good of the team.
Starting pitching is another question. John Maine is on the DL and Pedro Martinez is a shell of himself in the midst of re-invention. Ollie Perez is Jekyll and Hyde, who either shows up as Sandy Koufax or Jay Hook. The Mets have ridden the coattails of a pair of 13-game aces: the superb Johan Santana and the unlikely Mike Pelfrey, who appears to have turned things around.
On the slugging front: poster boy David Wright is in a funk of late, while Jose Reyes’ batting average has dipped below the .300 mark. A late season collapse of Reyes sealed the fate of the Mets in `07. Ryan Church’s concussion worries as does the fire-in-the-belly of centerfielder Carlos Beltran. Luis Castillo is finished, saddling management with another three years of mediocrity. Thank God for the young bucks of Daniel Murphy and Nick Evans who have fans forgetting the ancient and seemingly always injured Moises Alou, a deadly hitter when healthy.
All praise goes to Carlos Delgado, who was ready to be run out of New York before the shabby dumping of Willie Randolph, a firing that turned out to be the best thing to happen all year for the Mets. Big Carlos has been carrying the team with 19 homers since Willie’s midnight axing. Fans though whisper and wonder about how much more can Carlos do this season?
The Mets have 19 games left beginning tonight at Shea Stadium against the Nats. The hated Chipper “Larry” Jones visits Queens with the Atlanta Braves this weekend. Chipper is one of the all-time Met killers, to the extent that he named one of his kids, Shea. How's that for rubbing it in? There is a return engagement with the Braves in Atlanta, plus a four-game set with Chicago Cubs, the National League’s top team, at Shea from Sept. 22-25.
The epic `07 collapse, losing a seven-game lead with 17 left to play, occurred because “Cool Hand” (“It’s just a little bad streak”) Willie had the Mets on cruise control. They also lacked a bona fide ace represented by Santana, who shut down the Phils in a must-win back end of a double-header on Sunday. The Mets also benefit from an interim manager, Jerry Manuel, who urges players to play “gangsta.” Bobby Valentine lurks in the wings.
The Mets will certainly take it to the wire. It is never ever easy. That is the joy and heartache of being a Mets fan. My prediction: the Mets are playing ball well into October, and poised to do battle with the Anaheim Angels--though a return World Series with the BoSox would be sweet.
Let’s Go Mets!
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