Mets 3, Tigers 0
Tigers 8, Mets 7
Tigers 15, Mets 7
Dodgers 5, Mets 3
Dodgers 4, Mets 1
Ah, the June swoon. The New York Metropolitans can now boast a 2-9 record this month -- to follow a 19-9 May. It's been vexing, perplexing, and especially frustrating because there doesn't seem to be anything or anyone at whom to point the finger. For Willie Randolph, it makes it difficult to tweak his approach and fix the problem. For me, it makes it difficult to mock.
The beginning of the month saw the Mets drop a series to the Diamondbacks. Yes, the same Diamondbacks who dropped two of three to the Red Sox last weekend and who are now getting pulverized by the Yankees. Terms like "flat" and "lackluster" were bandied about in the post-series quotes. A telling sign, it could later be noted.
There wasn't much bounce-back in the three-game embarrassment against the Phils. (At home, no less.) Each of the games was close, and each was given away in some fashion. It pains me to type that it seemed like the Phillies wanted it more; in baseball, that's a depiction less appropriate than in other sports, but I got that kind of feel from watching that debacle.
Heckuva way to gear up for a big road trip, no? Especially one in which the Mets' interleague foes are all playoff teams from a year ago. (Oh, to be able to complain when facing the Rockies.) The Metros are running a gauntlet of visiting the Tigers/Dodgers/Yankees followed by hosting the Twins/A's/Cardinals -- all bookended by six games against the suddenly spunky Philthies. This is likely the toughest stretch the Mets will face all season, a true make-or-break period . . . and the Mets are looking awfully broken so far.
The Tigers simply overpowered our boys, pummeling Ollie Perez, Tom Glavine and the porous pen. The Dodgers have gone the pitching & defense route the past two nights, stymieing the Metbats while doing just enough to overcome El Duque and John Maine. Again, there's no glaring source of this Met Malaise. Believe me, I'm ready to rag someone, and at this point, I am willing to grasp at straws. Carlos Beltran, ye of the 20-point BA drop and anything-but-clutch at-bats, prepare for your ears to begin burning someday very soon.
You know, it's when the whole team seems to be sagging -- and playing with an extinguished fire to them -- that the manager gets the crosshairs close-up and might need to prove his mettle. Yes, I know the New York Mets are still in first place, still nine games over .500, still a quality club who's been banged up (sort of). It's not panicky desperation, however, to get pissed off about a ballclub sleepwalking for a fortnight and taking us down with them.
The Washington Post ran an article yesterday about Johnny Miller's record round of 63 at the 1973 U.S. Open. Amid the many eye-opening stats and statements, this little bit jumped out at me:
Still, there was a slight stall at that point when he left birdie putts of 10 and 12 feet short on his next two holes, then had his only bogey on the card when he three-putted the eighth from 18 feet.It's that often-described dividing line between the great champions and the merely good also-rans. Miller hit the lull that occurs in every great round of golf, every big game, every baseball season, and it never occurred to him that it was bound to happen, that there were logical reasons for a return to earth, and that hey, he was still going to finish with a pretty good score. Instead, he got pissed, and willed himself back to that ultimate level of play. He expected greatness and refused to accept anything less. It's what "winners" do, and while I lack that overdrive Type A aggressiveness in my personal character, I'd sure like some of it in my baseball team.
At that point, Miller said he started telling himself what he's often said on the air about many other players heading in the wrong direction. He said he got angry and started calling himself a choker.
Properly motivated after posting 4-under 32 on the front, he ran off three straight birdies starting at No. 11 and got to 8 under for the day with his last birdie of the round at the 15th, when he hit a 4-iron to within 10 feet and made the putt.
They don't need to go crazy, but I think a lot of us in the Township would quickly start to get past this atrocious, league-worst start to the month if we saw some real fire. Somebody getting utterly pissed at these losing ways, throwing the team on his back, and willing these Mets to the greatness of which they are so plainly capable. We're beyond shaving heads in solidarity. Time to get angry.