Thursday, May 20, 2004

Game 40 - Mets
Defense D'Art

Cardinals 1, Mets 0
Record: 19-21

I just can't win. I suggest that the Mets should win, and they lose. I outline exactly why they should lose, and they lose in precisely that way. Well, sort of: Trachsel had no letdown (I am becoming a huge fan of his), but Suppan was great, Rolen won the game for the Cardinals, and the Mets once again found away to lose. 1-0 is such a shot in the gut. These are the opportunities that the Metmen had been taking full advantage of lately, but they just came up short.

Today's New York Post has multiple articles that lay a fair amount of blame on the ol' skipper in this game, including one whose entire contents consist of breakdowns of Art Howe's tactical . . . breakdowns. I love the Post for its very New Yorky, shoot from the hip style. (Not so much for its eloquent sportswriting, skillful composition, or journalistic professionalism; those are niceties monopolized by the Times. Anyway, the "Can Art" movement (not to be confused with Andy Warhol) is rolling, but I'm not so sure it isn't a little premature. His relaxed demeanor doesn't befit a New York manager, though he did blow a gasket last week over a horrible call at second base and get tossed. In addition, his quiet, thinking man style is being questioned more and more often with some head-scratcher maneuvers. Admittedly, Art Howe has forced me (that's my defense, at least) to heave inanimate objects across my living room in frustration more than once over the past season and a quarter. But I refuse to join this misguided lynch mob.

The recent resurgence in Metville has been Art Howe style all the way. Not flashy -- no ostentatious win streaks, just take two of three and call it a series, just effective. It's a slow creep from jockeying with Les Expos for the NL cellar to slipping by the malfunctioning Braves to calmly looking on a few games back while the Marlins and Phillies fixate on each other. Counted out early and often, the Mets have quietly returned to the mix, though the only national articles about them these days are Disabled List updates. (Today Big Al hit the DL; if only I were like Antonio Alfonseca so I could cross more fingers for his quick and successful return.) This is just fine by Art Howe.

I don't think Mr. Howe enjoys any sort of spotlight, which will ultimately be his undoing in New York. The only time his A's received a whole lot of attention was in the postseason, when they folded like origami, usually to the Yanks. So this low-profile drag up the standings is perfect for him. Scrapping him now would undo this season, in all likelihood, and there's too many good times left in it to do that now. Let's see how far he can go flying under the radar, and then, if the Mets continue to improve, let's see what he does when all of the spotlights that have been blinding Derek Jeter & Co. get wheeled towards Queens. All we are saying is Give Art a Chance.

The scariest thing is that the chatter about Art Howe is errily similar to that of Grady Little during the regular season last year, except with half as many wins. Yikes.

Back to my personal problem (one of many): what do I write in this space so as not to steer my boys inexorably downward into another loss? Hmmm, I have yet to guarantee victory. Well, here it is: the Mets will win today, completing another series win, avoiding the gaudy win streak that might draw national attention, and continuing the upward progression. Slow progression, that is, like a trawler that doesn't grab the eye like the neon-colored speedboats that flit about, but which nets the catch and subsequently satisfies my hunger. (I must not have eaten enough at lunch today. Better grab a snack and follow this game online.)

METS WIN. You read it here.

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