By Joe Rini
Ahh, remember those carefree days of February in Florida with Yoenis Cespedes and Noah Syndergaard strolling into Mets training camp atop horses, with visions of a championship in the hopeful eyes of all fans.
Well, five and a half months later, a thoroughbred named Syndergaard has as many wins in August as the pitcher, Cespedes is on the DL, and the horserace that is the NL pennant race sees the Mets at the top of the stretch with the leaders far in the distance as the Amazins desperately try to finish in the money and earn the second wildcard spot.
The last three weeks have been a cruel reversal of fortunes for the Mets from last year. Whereas the 2015 vintage had won 15 of 22 games and vaulted themselves into first place entering game 120, this year’s team has dropped 14 of 22 over the same span and they trail the second wildcard spot by three games as they battle St. Louis, Miami, and Pittsburgh for baseball’s postseason consolation prize.
Even with the young starting staff battling fatigue, mounting injuries, and the offense’s ongoing problems scoring runs consistently, the hope was the Mets would gain ground in the standings with six games at Citi Field last week against two weaker NL West teams but instead they dropped four straight to Arizona and San Diego including a three game sweep by the Diamondbacks.
After the Diamondbacks completed the sweep with a 9-0 shelling on a stifling hot Thursday afternoon on August 11, a very frustrated Terry Collins answered the first and only question of his postgame presence with a four minute diatribe questioning his team’s effort before storming out for a 15 minute players only meeting in the locker room.
Speaking to reporters, Collins said, “I’ll stand up and be accountable. That’s what I do. But I know one thing, there’s got to be a passion to come and play. There’s got to be a sense of, ‘This what I do for a living. The people who pay to see me play are going to see my best effort.’”
“Starting tomorrow, we’re going to get after it here. And those who don’t want to get after it, I will find somebody else who does. Because in Las Vegas, there’s a whole clubhouse filled of guys who want to sit in this room. And I’ll find them.”
The Mets are 3-2 since Collins’ tirade and are in the midst of a 10 game road trip that could see them scheduling early October vacation plans if they don’t improve soon. After three games in Arizona, the competition ratchets up several notches against the Giants and Cardinals. Yet as Terry Collins said of his undermanned team, “I don’t care who’s not here. There are no excuses here. These are major league baseball players.”
In other news, the Mets became the first New York men’s pro sports team to sponsor Pride Night on August 13 with a portion of ticket proceeds going to the LGBT Network and its anti-bullying Safe Schools Initiative. Finally, in a sad note, original Met Clarence “Choo Choo” Coleman passed away on August 15 in South Carolina at the age of 80. A fan favorite despite his limitations on the field, Casey Stengel joked of the fleet footed Coleman that he never saw a catcher run after passed balls so quickly.