I like to think of myself as a realistic Mets fan.
This offseason, while many of my fellow Mets fans were picking the Amazins to finally overtake the Phillies and win the division, I was quietly optimistic while still taking a wait-and-see approach.
I even picked the Phillies to win the division in my National League East season preview article on Bleacher Report.
With that even-keel mentality in mind, I think it may be a long season for us Mets fans.
I know it's not even May yet, and with more than 140 games left to be played, it's certainly way to early to hit the panic button—especially for a veteran team. But when you factor in that the Mets missed the playoffs on the final day of the season the past two years, Mets fans have to wonder if a poor April will come back to haunt them in September.
Much of the Mets collapse in 2008 was centered around the terrible bullpen, and rightfully so, but most fans forget that the team's record was around or below .500 for the first 70 games. If the Mets played just slightly better baseball early in the 2008 season, they would have probably made the playoffs.
The Mets' front office also blamed the bullpen for the team's collapse, and made fixing it a priority during the offseason. The bullpen has been much better, but while fans were cheering the additions of K-Rod and JJ Putz and clamoring for Manny Ramirez, they missed one thing: This team is still full of holes.
Bullpen issues and Luis Castillo aside, this 2009 Mets team suffers from many of the problems the 2008 team suffered from. Every starter after Johan Santana is a question mark, Oliver Perez remains an enigma, the offense is very top-heavy and leaves to many runners on base, and David Wright is not only still having trouble hitting in the clutch, but his strikeouts are also way up (20 whiffs in 66 at-bats).
Not to mention that Daniel Murphy's defense in left field has been so bad, he makes Todd Hundley look like Willie Mays.
But this weekend was supposed to right the ship.
This weekend, the Nationals were coming to Queens.
The Mets would win the first two games on Friday and Saturday, to get within a game of .500. A win on Sunday would bring the Mets their first series sweep of the season, as well as even their record. The Nationals were just what the team needed to get them going in the right direction.
Then the Mets went out and lost to the Nationals on Sunday by the score of 8-1.
No series sweep.
No .500 record.
No heading in the right direction.
Just more of the same: 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and Oliver Perez stinking up Citi Field.
The win was only the fourth of the season for Washington.
Sure, the Mets won two-out-of-three from DC, but when a team has championship aspirations, they must win all three games in a home series against the worst team in baseball (especially if they have been playing poorly as of late).
So now the Mets are still under .500 and will have a tough week ahead of them. They start a three-game series at home against the Marlins who are currently leading the division, and then the head to Philadelphia for a three-game set against the World Champions.
If the Mets don't get it together soon, it could be a week from hell—even if the season is barely a month old.