By Jason Keidel
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The Mets' ghastly season seems to have trap doors. One night they lose a 3-2 heartbreaker at home, then they get pummeled 16-1, making them 4-24 in at Citi Field since the All-Star break. Yes, 4-24. They haven't won a game at home since August 26.
According to The New York Times, the Mets are on pace to have the worst winning percentage at home (.148) in the second half of a season since 1933, eclipsing their own .158 mark in 1979. Even the Astros, on course to lose 110 games, do better in their building.
This begs a fair question…
Are the Mets the worst franchise in baseball? Between Bernie Madoff and Jason Bay, there's a lot of bad karma in Queens. And since the team can't fire Fred or Jeff Wilpon, should Sandy Alderson hit the road?
After the Omar Minaya ship sank, aided by Ollie Perez, Luis Castillo, and Mike Tyson (AKA Tony Bernazard), the Mets promised New York a New Day, with Alderson's stability and nobility leading the way.
Alderson's answer to the problem was to drown the Mets in brain cells, in Ivy League intelligence, hiring J.P. Riccardi and Paul DePodesta to form a formidable think tank to flush the rancid past from Flushing.
How's that going? There hasn't been one solid signing over the last two years to which Mets fans can hitch their wagons and say, "Hey, that's gonna be big in a year or two." And there's no excuse for the inertia in player development, free agency, or the standings. You can't play the rebuilding card in New York without at least flashing a little cash or plucking some stud from a fertile farm system.
It's not Terry Collins's fault that Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey are injured, or that the lineup is thinner than Angelina Jolie. But there's always an excuse for the Mets, who have a profitable network, a pulchritudinous ballpark, and some of the best real estate in America. New York City is still a baseball town, yet you can only find it in the Bronx.
According to USA Today, the Mets are spending about $93 million on their roster. Three playoff-bound teams in the National League – Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Washington – are spending at least $10 million less. The Oakland Athletics have a paltry, $55 million payroll and are a whisker from winning a postseason spot, as are the Baltimore Orioles, who are spending $81 million.
If Wilpon is the problem, then the Mets and their fans are in trouble. Yadier Molina, as Molinas do in New York, put a hex on the Mets in 2006. Once Adam Wainwright's curve put Carlos Beltran to sleep, the Mets have gotten exponentially worse, blowing colossal September leads in 2007 and '08 before dropping out of the playoff picture entirely.
This year the Mets were the darling of New York for a few months, peaking at eight games over .500. David Wright darted out as the National League's MVP and Terry Collins was conducting a lovely summer symphony. Until he wasn't.
Frankly, the Mets' collapse is almost as inexplicable as their early-season ascent. They just don't even try to be good anymore. And a dearth of decent talent is no excuse for apathy. Is there any reason to think the Mets will turn this around?
And where's the symbolic light at the end of this endless tunnel? Shall we pretend Matt Harvey is the next Bob Gibson? Sadly, the future looks as wretched as the past and present. Alderson's charge was to shave payroll while keeping the Mets tolerable, if not competitive. He has accomplished neither.
Someone has to pay, but the Mets have no money. And maybe no future.
Feel free to email me: Keidel.Jason@gmail.com
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