The Mets are in a bit of a tailspin, and I'm not surprised by it. This fits into a loose pattern, and I can only go by what I lived through as a fan starting with the 1987 season.
- After the Mets lost in the 1988 NLCS to the Dodgers, the team started to slide the next season. It was a series they should have won, and after it, things got really bad for a few seasons. It really wasn't until Bobby Valentine was hired as manager and Steve Phillips came in as GM before things turned around.
- After the Mets lost Game 1 of the 2000 World Series to the Yankees, the team started to slide the next season. They shouldn't have won the series, but they shouldn't have lost that first game either. They really really had a chance to win and let it get away. Then things got bad. It wasn't until Omar Minaya and Willie Randolph came in to save the franchise that things turned around.
- After the Mets lost Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS to the Cardinals, the team started to slide. We all remember the 7 game lead with 17 to play in 2007, and the bullpen collapse of 2008. 2009 was just the next paragraph in that story. 2010 probably will be too.
You can pinpoint moments in 1988 (Kirk Gibson in game 4 of the NLCS), 2000 (mental mistakes that I have partially blocked out of my consciousness in game 1 of the WS), and 2006 (not scoring after the Chavez catch in game 7 of the NLCS).
You can see the parallels and patterns - sliding from 1989 to the "world team money could buy" in 1992 and rebounding around 1995/1996; sliding from 2001 to the Art Howe era ending in 2004 and rebounding in 2005; sliding from September 2007 into 2008 and falling fast in 2009.
By comparison, Atlanta won their division every year from 1991-1993 and 1995-2005. They failed in the playoffs many times, got back up, and were right back the next year. The Phillies have been in 3 years in a row, built up from 2007 to 2008 to win it all. The Mets aren't in the same class as those teams are/were.
Now I know that the players weren't around for all of these slides. Most were only around for one. It's not necessarily them. It's the culture. What they built up with Frank Cashen was great (maybe he's a candidate for the Mets Hall of Fame). But once things started to get away from them, that was it. Even a broken clock it right twice a day. That probably best explains most of their success in the last 20 years.
Looking towards 2010 and the free agent market, I just don't see the Mets making a big move and spending the money, and even if they do, I don't see them being one player away from turning things around. They just weren't good in 2009 and showed a severe lack of depth. That can't be fixed by one player.
It ain't pretty. I can see why Fred & Jeff Wilpon want to ignore this history, but they're doomed to repeat it.
Leave a comment or drop me a line at DyHrdMET [at] gmail [dot] com.
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