With a little help from the bats of David Wright and Ike Davis, plus the right weather conditions for R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, the Mets avoided being swept in Washington and the greater embarrassment of coming home after a winless road trip against the division rivals directly ahead of them in the NL East standings.
How bad was this road trip before Thursday’s finale? I’ll tell you how bad it was. Davey Johnson offered some of his traditional dugout snack food (Rolaids) to Terry Collins to help him deal with the heartburn, heartache and heart stomping going on between the foul lines since the All-Star Break.
Okay, so the sharing of the Rolaids between past and present Mets skippers might not be entirely accurate, but after watching and listening to the team before and after their games this week, perhaps it should be the fans who start raiding Davey Johnson’s medicine cabinet for some vintage 1986 antacid tablets.
For example, on Tuesday Jordany Valdespin put on his Air Jordanys and sent a Tyler Clippard pitch flying into the night. Valdespin had come into the game as a pinch-hitter for Jason Bay. So did Terry Collins reward the ‘Spinster for his late-inning heroics? Nope. The next day, Jason Bay’s name was once again on the starting lineup card, while Valdespin was once again keeping Bay’s seat on the bench warm.
Then, on Wednesday, after the Mets had cut Washington’s lead in half, Collins gave the ball to Saturday’s starting pitcher, Miguel Batista to keep the Mets within a run of the Nationals. That’s not last Saturday’s starter. That’s this coming Saturday’s starter, as in three days after his relief effort. So of course, Batista allowed two runs to the Nats, which ended up being the winning runs after the Mets hit two solo homers off closer Tyler Clippard in the ninth. But of course, when Batista was interviewed after the game, he claimed the Mets were not only better than the Nationals, but that they were THE BEST TEAM IN BASEBALL!
Let me rewind that.
Let me set the record straight. The Mets are not the best team in baseball. They’re not even the best team in New York. Heck, I think a little league team or two in Queens might argue that the Mets aren’t even the best team in their own borough. But they are a good team. And sometimes that’s all you need to crash the postseason party. But when they lose five straight games to teams that are standing behind the velvet rope checking for their IDs … well … let’s just say the Mets are going to have a tough time proving they should be invited to their exclusive shindig.
Terry Collins has to make better decisions as the manager. The relief corps has to stop being the relief corpse. And they should stop making stupid statements when they come off the field. The only statements fans need to hear are ones made by the bats, gloves and arms between the foul lines. That’s it.
By winning the series finale against Washington on Thursday, a National crisis was averted. For now. The Mets could once again be in crisis mode when the Nats visit Citi Field for a crucial three-game series next week. But only if they fail to play the way we know they can play. With heart. With cojones. With a desire to win. With the passion they showed during the first half. Are those Mets still with us? Let’s hope so.