Monday, July 14, 2003

Games 91 through 93 - Mets

Phillies 10, Mets 3
Phillies 4, Mets 2
Mets 4, Phillies 3
Record: 40-53

Two years to the weekend after the passing of super-staunch Phils fan Evan Lloyd in a motorcycle accident, this series was a train wreck for the Mets. There was some redemption with a win in Game 4, but it came only after another blown save by Armando Benitez. (He leads the majors with seven of those.) As if his detractors -- especially the ones who say he isn't qualified to pitch in the Mid-Summer Classic on Tuesday -- needed a little more fuel for their case. To their credit, the Mets' hitters came through in the bottom of the ninth with the winning run. I tend to believe that the reason this younger, less acclaimed version of the Mets could pull this out where their predecessors would have surely failed is simply that, as players yet to rake in the millions of dollars, they appreciate the price of a case of beer. And so, because there is no canceling out of cases in this bet, I now owe Evan's younger brother five cases of PBR bottles while he owes me five of Golden Anniversary Light -- if he can track the GALs down. I'll be busy tracking down those Pabst bottles as well. It's even more insult to injury, as my bet used to be with Evan himself, and he liked his Pabst in the can.

The Marlins, meanwhile, have picked up Ugueth Urbina, so Benitez probably won't be headed there after all. While Atlanta has wrapped up the NL East by the break yet again, Florida is just 4.5 games out of the wild card and has decided they're going to make a run, which you have to admire. At this point, the only team in the division really out of it is the Mets, much to my chagrin. How did it come to this?

In some ways, despite the daily (okay, weekly of late) journal entries telling the story of the Mets' season to date, the Mets have been sneaky bad so far. They've clearly been mediocre all the way, as it's been a few moments of putting it all together surrounded by more moments of it all falling apart. But 40-53 is a horrible record, far worse than the way I feel they've played. Perhaps a lot of this is the recent stretch. They were somewhat holding it together at the point I called the apex (33-37); since then, they've gone 7-16 in ugly fashion, and right at the time when I've been able to follow them the least. (DirecTV is absolutely killing me.) After the demoralizing Yankee sweep(s), they seem to have given up the remaining glimmer of hope they had. Hence, the horrid pace of losses piling up, and the 6th-worst record in the majors.

Now we're at the All-Star break, which is something of a bitter pill for us Mets fans. No Met really deserved to be there, but Benitez's inclusion is pretty much a kick in the gut. Others will continue to point to his stats, his stuff, and his potential. We keep pointing to his potential to lose the biggest games on the schedule. So the lone Met in Chicago for the big game tomorrow (which counts!) is a guy who, in all likelihood, won't be a Met in a month; he's also the most regularly booed Met other than Roger Cedeno, who now receives "MVP!" chants upon his home plate appearances. I'd hope to see him blow the National League's home field advantage except that he's still on the trading block and I'd like to see the Mets actually get some talent for him. I fear that too many other teams are catching on to the anti-Armando sermons we've been preaching for several years. At this point he has to go -- anywhere, but preferably to an AL non-contender on the west coast. I just can't bear to watch another running of "Mental Man-child in Metville."

What does it say about the season when the All-Star break's appeal is a guaranteed three-day stint without a Mets loss?

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