By Rich Coutinho
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I have sat and watched the Mets the past week and for the first time this season, it seems the effort is not there and it is sad to see. I know this team has been beset with a multitude of injuries and tons of off-the-field issues but effort should be consistent even if the results of those efforts are anything but good. There are tons of reasons to play hard-but the biggest reason is you are a professional baseball player and as such, effort should be a given.
There are many players on this roster trying to impress Terry Collins in the hopes of securing a roster spot in 2012, and trust me on this one - the Mets manager is taking stock of what he sees and there is a lot he does not like right now. Aside from all that, these players owe it to the sport to "play the game right" especially considering they are taking on the Braves and Cardinals in the next week. Why do I say that? These two teams are in a wild card playoff race and for the Mets it is the chance to spoil things for them. What is the motivation you say? Let's start with the fact that the Braves have ruined more Met seasons than any other in franchise history and as for the Cardinals need I say more than "Yadier Molina"?
In 2007 and 2008, teams like the Nationals and Marlins took great pride in ruining the Mets seasons and I personally admired those teams for putting everything on the line for pride. The Mets should treat these seven days like "their playoffs" by playing some daring baseball. Take the extra base, push the envelope on the bases, be aggressive at the plate, and pitch like it means everything. For players like Ruben Tejada, Justin Turner, Pedro Beato, and Bobby Parnell this week is especially important because their ability to keep at it through the end of the season will be a big determining factor in their future with this organization. And for players like David Wright, Jason Bay, Jose Reyes, and Angel Pagan this is a chance get a small measure of revenge for what these teams took from them. It will never make up for it, of course, but it is all part of being a professional.
Getting to .500 is likely a pipe dream now for the Mets after dropping 6-of-7 to the Nationals and Cubs, but finishing ahead of the Nationals and Marlins is more than enough motivation to finish the season strong. Again, it is not the losses that bother me as much as the acceptance of the losses. And if I were Terry Collins, that would be my message as the Mets take the field in Atlanta tonight. This week is "your playoffs" and a chance to show me what you can do. All season like the Mets or not, you could never question that effort or toughness. That is -- until now. And so, the Mets have 12 games to get it back. It will not reverse the results of the season but it will reinforce the notion that despite a sub .500 record, the culture in this organization has indeed changed. And that is why these last two weeks should be important to the residents inside the Met clubhouse.
Can the Mets finish strong? Leave a comment below.
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