The Mets were swept in a three-game series by the Washington Nationals at Citi Field this week. That should not come as a surprise, since the Nationals have now won 11 straight in Queens. However, the last quarter of this season is looking a lot like the last quarter of the 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 seasons. The Mets are starting to look listless, and simply not competitive.
Sure, an explanation for the sweep could be that the Nationals are simply better than the Mets. However, the Mets were swept by a depleted Washington team, a team without Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth. The most troubling part of the sweep is that the Nationals didn’t just beat the Mets, they seemed to be able to do so at will. Washington slugged home run after home run, taking fearless, ferocious swings in the batter’s box. They hit Juan Lagares with a pitch, yet there was no retaliation. Mets seemed to be intimidated; they seemed to be willing to roll over and accept defeat.
This is not new. The last few August and September months have been tough to take in Flushing. The pattern seems to be that the once undermanned, yet feisty Mets simply become all-of-a-sudden outclassed by the same teams they’d been playing all year. The “reasons” for this then start to fly. “We’re tired”, “we have a lot of young guys who aren’t used to a 162-game schedule”, “we’re going to change our pre-game routine”-all of these stop well short of explaining why this team melts shortly after the All Star break.
Some will look in the dugout and point to the leadership of Terry Collins and his staff. Others will look at the team Sandy Alderson has assembled, while others direct their frustration to the team’s frugal ownership. The truth is that culpability lies with all of the above.
Earlier this week, Collins said this team will be playing meaningful games in September. Perhaps those games will mean something to the competition, but at this juncture, those games will likely mean nothing to the Mets (except for assessing talent). The post-game concerts can continue, as can the discounted tickets for strikeouts in a series. However, none of these creative attractions will bring people to Citi Field, only winning does that.
Many of us did not think the Mets would contend this year. As part of a building process, that’s fine. However, some incremental progress was expected, and it certainly does not appear that any will take place (at least in the standings). The Mets will have to win 17 of their last 40 to get to 74 wins, the mark of the last two seasons. Based on what I’m seeing, I’m not convinced they can do that.
Here’s my bottom line. The Mets aren’t just losing, they’re losing in a patterned way. They appear to have lost any grit, any sense of determination. Worst of all, if any of us thought that a cultural change was taking place to no longer accept losing, we apparently are mistaken. It’s the same late summer malaise as in previous years. I don’t have a prescription for something to change this. However, I know one thing. This pattern and this culture definitely need an overhaul.