Misery loves company.
Having grown up in the Cleveland area of Northeast Ohio, I can sympathize with the frustration that New York Mets fans are feeling right now. One minute, you are angry and frustrated, the next you are consumed by a hopeless thought that things will never get better. I’ve been there… I know.
It becomes an increasingly more difficult pill to swallow when a team gets so close one year (losing the 2008 NL Wild Card to Milwaukee on the final game of the season), then to seem so far away the next year.
Being from Cleveland, I have seen both sides of the coin. I have watched teams fail because of poor management and I have watched teams fail that were simply unfortunate victims of bad luck and ill-timed injury(ies). I have also seen teams fail due to a combination of those problems, and the Mets seem to be moving into that category.
Loyal Homer and Sports Geek both discuss very real problems within the Mets organization. As Loyal Homer points out, the Mets have had their fair share of drama in the front office. Former VP of Player Development Tony Bernazard was fired for making VERY poor choices, and there was an incident which occurred between manager Omar Minaya and a reporter when announcing Bernazard’s dismissal. Meanwhile, Sports Geek points out that on the field the Mets have also had a multitude of problems around injuries, most notably to Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, and Francisco Rodriguez.
The challenge, though, is to determine which of those problems are the CAUSE for the Mets woes, and which are an EFFECT.
Whenever a team is losing, every action is placed under a microscope. Each decision is scrutinized, and problems that may have been overlooked during a relatively successful season suddenly become overblown crises that fans and the media fixate on.
Those problems are all a part of the EFFECT that comes from losing. I am awarding this debate to Sports Geek because the CAUSE of the problem has to do more with injuries than with those front office issues.
As Sports Geek points out, the Mets have still managed to put together 53 wins, something that many other teams in the league have not been able to accomplish yet. While you cannot blame all of their 61 losses so far this season on injury, it is fair to assume that injuries have been the cause for some of them. For the sake of argument, consider the possibility that a ‘healthy’ Mets team would have won only five additional games to this point in the season. Under that scenario, the Mets would be two games ABOVE .500, and only six games behind the Phillies, instead of sitting at eight games BELOW .500.
Obviously, that is all speculation. My point is simply to illustrate the enormous impact felt by the difference of only a few games. When a team is forced to take the field with less talent than what they had originally planned, those extra losses are bound to happen and they can inflate many of the other problems within the organization.
I do not intend to diminish or excuse the problems going on within the upper levels of the Mets franchise. However, those problems (or at least the increased attention being paid to those problems) are part of the EFFECT of losing, rather than the CAUSE for it.
Regardless of cause or effect, though, Mets owner Fred Wilpon will have to address ALL of those problems if he wishes to see his team make a return to the postseason any time soon.