The Miracle Mets, Amazin’ Mets, You Gotta Believe, The Magic is Back… and now Mets Tragic Magic.
In 2006, the New York Mets came within one strike of advancing to the World Series. 2007 was billed as the year the Mets would win it all. Instead, they’ll be forever remembered for blowing the division title in record fashion.
New York enjoyed a 74-60 record at the end of August. The Mets began September on fire winning their first four games of the month and eight of nine to open up a commanding (or so it seemed) six game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies. Chants of MVP sang from Shea’s crowd for David Wright and Jose Reyes. Manager Willie Randolph’s moves were working… the Mets were marching towards the post season. By September 12th the Mets owned a 7 game lead…. And then…… POOF… New York won only one home game for the rest of the season starting with a Phillies sweep. The Mets managed to find themselves one game behind Philly after game 160, tied on 161... Only to implode on the final day of the season. Veteran and future Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine produced his worst major league start charged with 7 first inning runs. Season over.
Never before has the baseball world witnessed a ball club lose a seven game lead with seventeen to go.
New York fans were searching for answers, culprits and scapegoats. Truth of the matter is it was an entire organizational collapse from top to bottom.
Lets break it down from the top. The Mets brass failed at the trading deadline to acquire another starting pitcher for their beleaguered staff. Failed to land any bench players other than Jeff Conine who struggled. Any solid experienced veteran pitchers would have sufficed and was needed. Instead the Mets were content, after all they were on a roll and did not want to give up future talent. They did land Luis Castillo who was needed to play 2B after season ending injury to Valentin.
Next in line is Willie Randolph. Willie has proven he’s a good game manager. However, he failed to teach is immature younger players when to put up and shut up. Discipline was sorely lacking down the stretch as Reyes, Beltran, Gomez and Chavez were all thrown out attempting to steal third base with two outs killing rallies. Randolph could be seen visibly upset in the dugout each time and never successfully corrected the situation. During their record breaking chokathon Randolph was completely solemn during press interviews. He failed to pick his team up off of the mat by way of a positive attitude. He seemed lost in his teams failures dwelling on losing instead of motivating his players for the next game. They were all hanging their heads and sometimes turning on each other during interviews.
The pitchers. Much of the early finger pointing was geared towards the failures of relievers to secure games. The once reliable Wagner, Feliciano, Sosa, Mota, Schoeneweis, and Smith started tiring and blowing large leads. Fielders frustrations were evident with every pitching change. Randolph and his posse were not happy in the dugout. There was no stopping the bleeding. Randolph eventually turned to El Duque to solidify his bullpen but it didn’t work. The oft injured Hernandez couldn’t save the sinking Mets. While the bullpen was busy taking heat for the teams failures… their starting pitchers flew under the radar.
Tom Glavine was at his career worst down the stretch when they needed a solid game from a veteran leader and Hall of Famer. He imploded by never winning a game after September 8th. In his final 11.1 innings pitched he was responsible for 17 runs on 25 hits.
John Maine was 12-5 heading into August and won only 3 of his last 11 starts. He was winless for the month until beating Florida in must win game #161 to put the Mets back in a tie with Philly. Other than his last game he was horrific often looking bewildered on the mound during his struggles.
Orlando Hernandez was enjoying a fine season until August 25th and never started a game in September as this oft injured vet hit the DL after Atlanta thumped the Mets 13-5.
Pedro Martinez didn’t make an appearance until September. If it wasn’t for him the Mets season would have ended earlier. However, his signing has been a tremendous bust as he started only 5 games in ‘07.
Oliver Perez was outstanding for most of ‘07 setting a career high of 15 victories. However, when the Mets needed him most he was at his worst vs. the Florida Marlins on game 160. In a must win game he lasted only 3 2/3 innings, gave up 6 hits, 6 runs, hit 3 batters including 2 with the bases loaded. It was one of the worst implosions in Mets big game history until Glavine bombed on the seasons final game.
Too many big games were started by fill-in pitchers and this hurt in September. Pelfrey (3-8, 5.57), Humber (7.71) couldn’t fill the gaps. Management needed to find a veteran at the dead line and this cost them dearly.
As for the lineup… they did manage to score runs but were inconsistent and non-clutch down the stretch. Losers when scoring 6, 8, 7, 9 & 6 had them barking at their pitchers failures. When the pitching was on, the bats were silent scoring 4 or fewer runs in 6 of final 12 losses.
One of the very few shining stars was Moises Alou who kept on hitting and hitting to the tune of a 30 game streak. Base running was sloppy as runners were thrown out at third base on ill advised steal attempts. Fielding became sloppy, clutch hitting disappeared, fans were stunned and silent. The team seemed to forget one major thing during their downfall. Just play ball. Instead they tightened and flat out choked when games were on the line by way of called strikeouts, weak grounders and feable pops.
2007 was a complete collapse by this organization during the final month. How long its’ effects are felt is anyone’s guess but to rid themselves of the surviving stench of failure changes must be made. It’s time to cut loose failed and aging starting pitching. Glavine has never lived up to his Atlanta days in a Mets uniform. He was completely ineffective when the Mets needed a veteran to shut down opponents. Pedro is next. Why spend so much money on a player who can’t pitch a full season. He was clearly bought for the playoffs but if you can’t make it to the promised land…. ??? Orlando Hernandez. This crafty vet is injured way too often creating rotation gaps.
The Mets history has been filled with great success stories and fan favorite moments. 1962’s inaugural season. 1969 Amazin’s, 1973 You Gotta Believe, 1986 Magic…. And now…. 2007 Tragic.