Having grown up on the tough streets of Mahopac, N.Y., I’ve been witness to some of the worst Mets seasons in human history. Truth be told, I never thought anything would come close to the ’92 disaster, when the organization spent enormous wads of dough on players like Bobby Bonilla, Vince Coleman, Eddie Murray and Bret Saberhagen, then finished 72-90 and last in the NL East. (For a great read, I highly recommend The Worst Team That Money Could Buy, by John Harper and Bob Klapisch) Those Metropolitans were a truly horrific collection of charactersâ€”dismissive, arrogant, indifferent, cruel. Just the absolute worst.
Or so I thought.
Although these 2009 Mets are not nearly as bad, humanity-wise, as the edition from 17 years ago, the season has been an even greater disaster. First, there were the expectations: A sparkling new stadium, chock full o’ bells and whistles; A refurbished bullpen featuring not one (Francisco Rodriguez) but two (J.J. Putz) closers; the continued development of two of the best young ballplayers aroundâ€”David Wright and Jose Reyes; A healthy Carlos Delgado at first; an in-his-prime Carlos Beltran in center; a stupendous young hitter, Daniel Murphy, bursting onto the scene. The list goes on and on and onâ€”these Mets were supposed to rule the world, and even Sports Illustrated predicted a return to the Fall Classic.
Yes, there have been injuries. Lots and lots and lots of injuries. But the problems run significantly deeper. First, the ballpark is terrible. Not aesthetically. But in 2009, with a power-loaded lineup, you don’t build a stadium with dimensions befitting the ’85 Cardinals. Second, Omar Minaya, the GM, spent so much time thinking about the bullpen that he forgot about a little thing called, well, depth. Sure, the Mets boasted an All-Star-packed lineup. But what if the elderly Delgado got hurt? What if Ryan Church failed to produce? What if Reyes, injury prone throughout his career, went down yet again? Behind the stars, New York boasted … mush. Fernando Tatis. Angel Pagan. OK playersâ€”but limited.
Worst of all, the Mets haveâ€”from day oneâ€”lacked spark. Perhaps it’s the hangover of blowing one too many down-the-stretch leads. But this has been a listless, dull team from April through todayâ€”one never befitting of a new stadium or a rabid fan base. They’re a yawn a minute, and it’s insanely mind-numbing to observe.
So, what to do?
A. New general manager: I like Omar. Always enjoyed covering him. But he’s done a terrible job with a bevy of resources. Willie Randolph was let go because it seemed he’d never be able to dig out from past failures. Now, the same applies to Omar.
B. New manager: Jerry Manuelâ€”very, very nice man; very, very ordinary skipper. This is an odd job. A team tires of its fiery leader, it hires a cool dude. Cool dude gets old, a fiery leader is needed again. In other words, where’s Bobby Valentine when we need him?
C. Trade either Wright or Reyes: I know … I knowâ€”terrible idea. But desperate times call for desperate measures. The chemistry is clearly off here. An infusion is needed.
D. For Christ’s sake, move in the fences.