By Rich Coutinho
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We all know the Mets' season has gone down the chute quicker than a Nolan Ryan fastball. We all know how poorly they've played at Citi Field since the All-Star break. We all know they've had their share of bad luck.
But the type of effort we've seen over the last two nights in Flushing simply can't be tolerated. It was the first stretch this season -- to me -- where the Mets were just going through the motions. That is not acceptable, whether there are two people in the stands or 40,000.
There are too many young players, guys trying to make the grade, to accept that they have packed it in. But when you witness things like botched rundowns, throwing to the wrong base, reckless base running, giveaway at-bats and lack of hustle, you start to wonder where the priorities are.
I've been around baseball a long time and fully acknowledge that good pitching can make a team look flat. So when the Mets were dominated by the top teams in the league like the Braves, Reds and Nationals, I understood why they looked listless.
But these Rockies have more problems than the Mets. Colorado has been missing Todd Helton, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. They've been awful on the road and don't have one single lock-down starting pitcher. And for the past two nights, they've beat on the Mets like a drum.
That can't be tolerated.
Though I know many fans have given up on this team, there are many who still watch the games; so many who still care. The players should care about them if not about themselves.
Until the last two nights, win or lose, I always felt the Mets had given maximum effort. They've been severely outplayed the past six weeks, but I never felt they were being out-hustled. Until now. And I simply don't understand why. Every player in that locker room has something to prove, whether it be a youngster trying to establish himself, a veteran trying to establish greater value for his future, or struggling players that need to find a way out of horrific slumps.
As a team, the Mets no longer have playoff aspirations. As of Wednesday morning, they sit just one-half game out of the NL East basement, tied with the Phillies for third.
They have to summon some pride to avoid finishing last. More importantly, these Mets players have to remind themselves of the responsibilities that come with being a professional athlete. I remember late in the 2005 season, after the Mets had fallen out of the race, Willie Randolph was very concerned that his team was packing it in. He expressed to them that was not an option.
They finished over .500 and Randolph helped plant the seeds that would drive them to the league's best record in 2006.
Terry Collins needs to find a way to reach his team in a similar fashion.
It won't turn around the swoon of the second half, but maximum effort should be a given. That's something we're just not seeing right now.
Think the Mets will give their fans a good finish, or will the last month and change bring more misery? Be heard in the comments below...
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