Mastering the Midseason Mets Malaise: What Would Kiner Say (WWKS)?
At midseason, this team clearly needs a spark. The beautiful “Los Mets” of April and May have become the depressing “Gross Mets” of June and July.
Is the answer in midseason acquisitions? Or will the return of Pedro or Old Man Moises be the thing to bring the mojo back? Well both men’s histories suggest a certain carnival atmosphere, one keeping company with midget mascots the other using his own urine to celebrated effect. But it says here: don’t count on it. The 1000 lb. gorilla in the room, who I will only refer to as LM…could actually give this team more of a spark than either of these guys. But ultimately, it may be this team will only gel again when the Traveling Carloses start acting less like the Traveling Willburys and more like, um, I dunno, itinerant serial killers.
But as for what to do in the meantime, I have no idea, and I am a bit skittish about instant gratification trades. I love the team as presently constituted, no Trashell’s, Super Joes, Armandos to raise my orange and blue blood pressure. Aside from a few players who seem to be in need of a retirement watch and a kindly pat on the back, the Mets have the parts to win, and a trade-athon would most likely make me unhappy. My love for the players on this team should mean high “enjoyability factor.” What’s more there the Mets are sitting in first place. But good God man, they are playing some very un-enjoyable baseball.
Who to turn to in these puzzling times? I choose Ralph Kiner as my guide, pouring through his body of work for clues. As the philosopher of baseball befuddlement, Kiner is the one man we can turn to in times of trouble. Of course lately, he is just confused. But some times confusion leads to pure poetry. So now, without further ado, and without the aid of statistics or common sense, I will attempt to use the inadvertant philosophy of Ralph Kiner to unlock the key to the current Met Malaise. This is dangerous, so don't try this at home. Where the facts have yet to catch up to my analysis, I’m sure timeless wisdom of Ralph Kiner will win your hearts.
Identity: “Hello, everybody. Welcome to Kiner's Corner. This is....uh. I'm...uh"
If shaving your head doesn’t create a team identity, then a wild eyed Paul LoDuca outburst should, right? Uh…Well if team mojo is measured by smiles on the ballfield, then everything is AOK. But if you’re looking for stirring comefrombehind wins and a never lay down attitude, well, the Mets’ get up and go has got up and went in June and July. Where is the teams’ character at? The Carlossss are quiet stars. The team’s elder statesman, Toothless Tom and Julio Franco-stein are too busy throwing batting practice and grounding weakly and weekly to second with a big heavy bat to inspire my confidence in their authority.
The injury factor: "He's going to be out of action the rest of his career."
Though Ralph was talking about Bruce Sutter in this quote, it does seem like Moises and Lastings Milledge have been on the shelf for, like, evah. LM return might be pending, and I pray will give the team a positive spark. But the Endy and Gomez and Dirty Sanchez injuries have made it tough for this team to get a nice rhythm going. Injuries have been a factor, no doubt about it.
Management: "If Casey Stengel were alive today, he'd be spinning in his grave."
Some fans say Willie is the problem. I am not his biggest fan, and he could perhaps encourage his boys to take the occasional walk, but I don’t think he’s the problem right now. Stengel’s best known quote is much more appropriate: "Can't anybody play this here game?" (the actual quote according to Wikipedia). Sucessful bullpen management, unimpeachable lineups, inspiring on-field tirades, and marvelous double-switches only lead to so many wins, ya know?
Putting the biscuit in the basket: “"The Mets have gotten their leadoff batter on only once this inning."
Runners in *$!?! scoring position! Arrghh. Roy Oswalt. Arrghh. The Mets ability to hit with RISP is RIP. When they get that leadoff batter on base, that leadoff batter is often Jose Reyes, who often steals second, is advanced to third, then sits smiling and thinking about butterflies while his teammates fail him. Don’t it make you mad? Once an inning is enough, if you have guys interested in RBIs.
Power outage: "This one deep to right and it is way back, going, going, it is gone, no off of the top of the wall."
Well without the aid of statistics, I’m going to go ahead and say that the Mets relative lack of homeruns is a major difference between the awesomefense of last year and the awfulfense of this year. Of course, offensive cushions in the early innings apparently don’t work as well when the starter gives them right back though. Yes Tommyboy, I’m looking at you.
As we head into the second half, we fans have to know that there is nothing we can do to affect the outcomes of the games. The best we can do is cope, and try to understand. Turning to Kinology is one way to reach a calm place. Omm. Another soultion is that the *&$*#! Mets start an unrelenting win streak, bury those *&%!* Br*ves and Phillies, and return us to the blissful state we were in this Spring. This is important, because, to paraphrase the great Ralph, "Two-thirds of the earth is covered by water. The other third is covered by Metsfans."