A Realistic View of the New York Mets' Latest Collapse

Andrew MeesAnalyst ISeptember 29, 2008

I haven't written on Bleacher Report in a while, partly because society dictates that I need to work in order to survive, and partly because I wanted to take this month of New York Mets baseball in, so I'd have a lot of earth-shattering material when I finally sat down to write. 

And what a month it was. I cheered, I cried, I lost my dinner almost nightly. For every memorable win, there was a loss that made you feel like you just got a crushing blow to the stomach. 

And when it was all said and done, the Amazin's once again collapsed in another September and again missed out on a postseason that seemed destined to have games played at Shea.

There's been a million articles written about it, from Bleacher Report to the New York papers. I don't know if I'll ever get over the way the past three seasons of Mets baseball have ended, and it's certainly not going to help going over every missed opportunity and blown lead of the season.

At this point, I'm just too fragile.

The articles that have been written about this team on this site have all had great points, but one really needs to be driven home in my opinion: Despite what some fans think, this team was lucky to be in position to be vying for the postseason. 

People, this team had the worst bullpen in the majors after the All-Star break, before they lost their closer for the final two months of the season to injury. They had 29 blown saves. 29 blown saves. That's over a month's worth of games.

They lost nine games in which they were leading after eight innings, most in the bigs. Their playoff hopes rested on a reliever that the Washington Nationals couldn't wait to get rid of closing games. Does that sound like the bullpen of a playoff team to you? Didn't think so. 

They lost one of their top three starters, John Maine, for the season with almost two months to go. They had bench players play more than 50 games at second base and both corner outfield positions.

For a large portion of the season, they relied on a platoon of two rookies in left field, both of whom were never supposed to be anywhere close to the majors this season. Then, they lost their two best bench players, Fernando Tatis and Damion Easley, in the season's final month.

Rookie left-hander Jon Niese made his first three major-league starts for this team—in September. Yet, in spite of it all, this team was up three-and-a-half games with 17 to play in the National League East.

Did they collapse? Sure they did. Nobody can deny that. They had a chance to get in to the playoffs, heading into the final game of the season, and they blew it with another choke-job performance.

But with all that happened to this team over the course of the season, it could have easily been a meaningless final game at Shea. While the result hurts more than words can describe, it's important to understand that despite being so close, this team wasn't really playoff-caliber.

They had an incredibly talented core and an unmatched ace, but a horrific bullpen and a laundry list of injuries proved to be too much for those players to overcome.