I read an interesting article yesterday on the Bleacher Report asking a question that probably hasn’t gone through anyone’s minds lately; would it mean more to the Mets and their fans to make a small push over the last five weeks of the season and finish over .500, or continue their second half slump and get a high draft pick? That, is a wonderful question…one that can come with a loaded answer.
The 2011 season wasn’t supposed to be anything special for the Mets in Terry Collins’ first season as skipper, and it really wasn’t. Finishing the year with a 77-85 and 25 games behind the NL East champion Phillies, there were few highlights to speak of outside of the season Jose Reyes had. Following that, the financial problems continued as we watched the team’s perennial lead-off hitter take a lucrative deal with the Marlins, while Sandy Alderson and the front office didn’t make many moves, with the signing of Frank Franciscobeing the biggest deal of the off-season. Then, something happened that no one expected; they started 2012 by winning.
We watched the Amazins start the year 4-0, then continuing to stay above .500 while beating their NL East opponents at a good clip (except for the Nationals). At the close of the first half, New York was sitting at 46-40, in contention for a Wild Card spot, and we were hearing Alderson talk about being a buyer at the trading deadline. Sadly, the second half had to come, and New York fell off the face of the Earth. What was more depressing was the graphic MetsBlog posted yesterday afternoon, as the Mets have a 101-157 record in the second half of the season since 2009, with their .395 winning percentage being the second-worst in baseball.
So, what would finishing at or a couple games above .500 mean for this organization and it’s fans? It was amazing to see the smiles and confidence fans had in this team, and how quickly they vanished since the middle of July. Playing fundamental baseball and getting situational hits that lead to wins will give the fans a glimmer of hope. Getting a top-10 pick in next year’s draft would be great if they can get a polished outfielder with home run potential, but that won’t excite many because whomever the Mets could draft won’t help the 2013 squad.
If Terry Collins’ closed door meeting this week gives his team a source of motivation and they can put together five solid weeks of baseball, fans can at least feel as if this team could be worth watching come the first pitch of the season next April. It’s been six years since New York has made the playoffs, and it hasn’t been any normal drought. Fans have endured numerous collapses (some worse than others), a barrage of injuries, and the Bernie Madoff situation, just to name a few. After a surprising first half, fans were elated to finally have a team that they believe in again, and that’s what they so desperately want.
A strong finish this season will show that there has been some type of progress as the organization gets closer to 2014, which is supposed to be the year everyone is waiting for. Even if it’s only one more game won this year than 2011, that can at least show us that the bottom line is moving in the right direction. David Wright said a couple weeks ago the organization has made “baby steps” to becoming a competitor. I, for one, would like to see these baby steps translate into a couple more wins at the conclusion of 2012. Seeing our young guys not pack it in because the season is “lost” would be ideal. They can prove plenty to the fan base and instill some of that confidence from earlier this season with a late surge. Let’s see it, boys.