Are they trying to lose on purpose? Part deux

Mr. MetI heard David Wright, the third baseman, on the radio this morning talking about how his Mets’ teammates haven’t “made off-season plans yet.” At least I think it was the radio – at this point it’s really hard to decipher the voices in my head from the ones coming out of mechanical devices. I wish I was being funny, but I’m not… I feel like Apu Nahasapeemapetilon at the end of a 36-hour shift at the Kwik-E-Mart. Remember that? He thought he was a hummingbird.

Anyway, I don’t think Wright was trying to be funny about the plans for the off-season quote, either. However, he might feel like he and the Mets are caught in a swarm of hummingbirds as those little bleepers dive in and out with the hearts and wings racing a hundred-miles per second as they try to poke his eyes out.

In this scenario the Phillies are the hummingbirds. They are ravenous and beatific all at the same time. They are also tied for first place in the NL East with just three games to go in the season because the Mets just can’t win a game when it matters.

I just can’t get over the fact that if the Mets had been able to beat the lowly Washington Nationals at home in just one of the three games this week, this would all be over. The Mets would be making plans for where to stay on the road in the NLDS instead of hearing manager Willie Randolph tear into them like a wolverine on greenies in a post-game tirade following the team’s loss to the Cardinals last night. Heading into tonight’s action, the Mets have won just three of their last 13 games and they have lost seven games in a row at cranky old Shea Stadium.

It was also during those 13 games that the Mets’ lead over the Phillies shrank from seven games to nothing. Imagine that… seven to zero in two weeks! It’s like those ads for those crazy diet pills in which they claim a person can lose 25 pounds in four hours. But, if one day you’re hanging out with some friends and the topic of rock-solid, sure-footing in the NL East standings is broached, you can say, “Yeah, well, I once saw the Mets blow a seven-game lead with just 16 games to go.

Heimlich“It was ridiculous. It was like they were waiting around to lose[1].”

Stunning. It’s all so stunning.

Anyway, I also heard an announcer proclaim on the radio this morning[2] like and antebellum preacher that, “This isn’t a choke… This is a COLLAPSE!”

Unlike Wright, the announcer was trying to be funny. At least I think he was trying to be funny. But he seemed like one of those types of people that believed everything he said. He measured every word so that it would be significant, though you could hear it in his voice – he was worried. The hummingbirds were diving in like little, tiny P-51 Mustang fighter planes and a rolled up newspaper used to swat the pests away was hardly a defense.

So this is what it has come down to for the Phillies and Mets. The three games this weekend determine which team will play on in the post-season and which team will have to scramble to cobble together some off-season plans. Interestingly, too, is that that the Mets and Phillies are matched up against the two worst teams in their division. The Phillies host the Nationals this weekend, who are fresh off a three-game sweep over the Mets at Shea and are feeling pretty groovy because they did not lose 100 games this season. Everyone thought the Nats (72-87) would drop 110; instead they have a chance to not lose 90.

Meanwhile, the Mets entertain the Florida Marlins, which, coincidentally enough, is the only team they have managed to beat in the last two weeks. Like the Nats, the Marlins won’t lose 100 either. But unlike the Nats, this feat isn’t going to go down as any type of success. Heading into the season, the Marlins thought they had what it took to challenge the Mets, Phillies and Braves atop the division standings, but things just kinda didn’t work out.

Who will things work out for this weekend? Or, will things work out so well (or badly) for both teams that they will have to come back a day after the season ends to sort it all out?

***

M80Talked to Aaron Rowand, the center fielder, after last night’s game and offered a query whether this Phillies’ club had any similarities with the World Champion 2005 Chicago White Sox. Rowand, of course, was an integral player on that team, which was known for having fun and being colorful in the press. It also seems as if that White Sox team was a lot like a college fraternity, but not like the one that held toga parties or socials with the sororities. No, this frat was more like the one that held illegal off-campus keggers, built bonfires that weren’t easy to extinguish, and had a member who knew how to make home-made M-80s if he could ever locate the 50 milligrams of flash powder.

So when asked if this tight-knit Phillies bunch was like the 2005 champs, Rowand didn’t hesitate.

“No doubt,” he said emphatically.

“This is the second team I’ve been on where the group comes together. We all have the same goal and it’s special,” he said. “Whether we win or not it’s a special season.”

But all things being equal, he’d rather win.


[1] This is part of quote from Mets’ catcher Paul Lo Duca, who told reporters after Wednesday night’s loss that, “Seems to me like we’re all waiting to lose.” I’m using it to be clever. I think it worked, but I haven’t gone back to re-read any of this yet. Perhaps I’ll just finish writing this and go off to take a nap without the re-read? Hey, it was funny once – why ruin a moment for myself?

[2] At least I think it was this morning… does the post-1 a.m. drive back to Lancaster count as this morning? Technically, yes, it was this morning. But I always played by the rule that the day wasn’t over until I had gone to bed. Is this a common train of thought?