As Keith Hernandez loves to say, "Almost only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades."
In this young season, the Mets have managed to take a season of hope, with so many changes in the off-season and a great 3-1 start, into a season of early heartbreak. The Mets have taken two aspects of baseball that usually generate a winning formula and turned them into a stylish way to lose and torment th
e Shea Citi Faithful.
Over the course of the first 13 games that saw the Mets go 4-9, they have done two things well as a team: Score runs in the early innings of games and make late inning comebacks. One would assume a team that could do these things on a consistent basis would be on their way to a winning season—but not the Mets.
Out of the 13 games, the Mets have put the first run on the board in nine of those games, but would go on to lose five. There are two major reasons for the Mets' failure to capitalize on these opportunities to close out leads.
The first reason has noticeably been the pitching staff. The issues go deeper than just the bullpen's inability to not give up runs. In a mind blowing stat, Mets pitchers have given up a run in the half inning following a Mets run, a resounding 43 percent of the time. That is the easiest way to kill any momentum the team just gained.
The other issue is the team has also failed to tack on to their leads. Even in a game like the one against Cole Hamels and the Phillies, they were able to put six runs up quickly, but were only able to add on one run for the rest of the game. The Mets know as well as anyone that a six-run lead in the ballpark is not safe even though things worked out that time. The offense is going to need to realize the pitching is too shaky to think any lead is safe, and they need to pour the runs on throughout the whole game.
I never even got to mention their continued troubles with bringing home the man on third with less than two outs, especially in the first inning with the rate Jose Reyes has been going on so far.
Manager Terry Collins said it best. The Mets were just one pitch or one hit away from being a 9-2 team rather than the 4-7 one they stood at before being swept in the double header. He hit the nail on the head recognizing his team could not find a way to come through in that clutch moment. His players did not respond the way one would hope after being called out by losing yet another close game.
David Wright's at-bat with Matt Lidstrom in that next game against the Colorado Rockies could sum up the Mets' whole season up until this point and continue the theme of missing their one moment—falling just one run, one ball, one base, one foot (give or take) short from getting the win. The whole feel of the team right now seems negative and the Mets have lacked that breakout moment to break the defeatist atmosphere around them.
The Mets need to take a line out of Al Pacino's book from the movie Any Given Sunday and try to get out of this funk by keeping it simple:
"Either we heal as a team or we are going to crumble. Inch by inch, play by play till we're finished. We are in hell right now, gentlemen believe me and we can stay here and get the shit kicked out of us or we can fight our way back into the light. We can climb out of hell. One inch, at a time. That's a team, gentlemen and either we heal now, as a team, or we will die as individuals. That's baseball* guys. That's all it is. Now, whattaya gonna do?"
Terry Collins needs to find a way to get this message across to the team. If it takes a team meeting where he plays the movie and forces them to watch it, so be it—something needs to be done. I am not going into a complete panic because of a losing record, 13 games into the year—it is the fashion they have gotten there. Someone needs to grab the bull by the horns and win a game for this team to energize their teammates and lighten the mood surrounding them.
The fan base has suffered enough over the last few years to deal with these near failures. Coming close is not going to cut it in New York. No one cares about the person who finished in second.