Games 50 through 54 - Mets
Mets 5, Marlins 3
Mets 7, Marlins 6 (12 inn.)
Mets 8, Dodgers 4
Dodgers 9, Mets 5
Mets 3, Dodgers 2
Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can start piecing things together in a meaningful way. Now, it's debatable whether 23-26 in a juggernaut-less baseball division is rock bottom, even for a team with "big-boned" payroll and preseason championship aspirations. It's also an expression a bit extreme to describe a guy with a job and an intact family situation who was simply supremely intoxicated and cut off / removed from respective birthday parties this month. Should "rock bottom" be reserved for 4-32 avalanches like the Orioles of some years back? Should it perhaps be saved to label the mess of a fellow who's auctioning his wife's sapphire bracelet on eBay to afford another fifth of Fighting Cock?
As with just about everything in life, it's relative. Let's just say this about me and my baseball team: this is about as low as we'd like to think it gets for us.
. . . and only time will tell if that's true.
In the last week, I've seen a few things I've been missing this year. I've seen hustle -- the smart kind, not the Rudi Stein idiotic attempt to force something. I've seen execution of what folks call "the little things" of the game. Sacrifices, intelligent baserunning, taking pitches, hitting the cutoff man, hitting it to the right side to advance the runner, not going fishing, not leaving men on base, not looking clueless and lackadaisical. Seems so simple, doesn't it? Well, it's exactly what the Mets were failing to do on enough of a regular basis to win ballgames and give the Township the requisite confidence.
I'll tell you what we also saw: Willie managing. Not managing, but managing. Benching clowns who weren't displaying any sort of capacity to slug their way from a lunch receptacle. Playing guys who sported not "upside" but large doses of scrap. A merit-based line-up, surprise of surprises. Just when we'd begun to question whether John McGraw could've won games with this assortment of overpaid, overaged slackers, just when we'd begun to wonder whether Willie would remain stoically statuesque as he captained this latest incarnation of the Titanic into the depths of the National League, he moved. Like when those weirdos on the Mall in their frozen poses for spare change finally change positions, it was startling. Instead of being creepy, though, it was refreshing.
Over the last year or so we've seen a Mets club that harkened back to the 2003/04 "Bad News Mets" in their ability to lose any contest at any time in a variety of exciting and gut-emptying ways. Seeing a spark that perhaps this can be a club to win any game at any time is the type of redemptive lariat that can sucker a Township's worth in for . . . well, quite a while, if not the duration.
Everything's relative, of course, and one week out of 28 won't mean much come September unless it's a sign of things to come. All I know is that the last two weekends have seen Fun Whitney return to action and bookend some inspired Mets play. There are a whole lot of people with fingers crossed that the worst is behind us now, and that May truly saw our "rock bottom."