Earlier this week, Jerry Manuel had a team meeting with his players after the Mets dropped their fifth straight game, a 6-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. They had been playing sloppy, lethargic baseball and had fallen two games under .500. In the nearly half hour meeting, Manuel claimed the following:
“The whole key was to say that we have enough. We have enough. We’ve got enough in here to do what we need to get done. Let’s get it done.”
Although not a fiery speech, it seemed to do the trick for the next two games, as the Mets took the finale in Milwaukee and followed it up by rallying from a five-run deficit in Pittsburgh to defeat the Pirates. The latter victory evened the Mets’ record at 39-39 and pushed them to within one game of first place in the mediocre National League East. The team was back on course and was heading into Philadelphia confident that they were going to do some damage.
Then Livan Hernandez took the mound in Philly and Manuel’s words seemed to have been forgotten. Livan struggled mightily in his three-plus innings of work and was not helped by his defense. Apparently, someone also replaced the team’s Tom Emanski Defensive Drills video with a grainy copy of the Bad News Bears. Coach Buttermaker could have done a better job managing this team tonight. The Mets failed to cover second base on a hit by Jimmy Rollins, which allowed him to take the extra base. Later on, Daniel Murphy did not chase after a ball that had gotten away from him, allowing Shane Victorino to reach second base. Of course, even if the Mets had played fundamentally sound baseball, they still couldn’t hit Phillies starter Rodrigo Lopez. They must have mistaken him for Joel Piñeiro.
Three days after Manuel’s team meeting, the Mets played the same way they had played during their five-game losing streak. If Manuel can’t fire up his players before their biggest series of the year, then I think I have to step in and do the job. Actually, let me hand the podium over to my spokesperson. Perhaps he can inspire the team to have an extended period of success. President Whitmore, the microphone is yours:
How can any team not respond to a speech like that? The Mets must put tonight behind them and go back to playing fundamentally sound baseball. They might be shorthanded, but if they remember to cover a base or chase a ball every once in a while, you never know. They might just be able to pull this series out.
Jerry Manuel, I’m calling on you to lead this team to victory tomorrow. Make sure our Fourth of July is as successful as President Whitmore’s Independence Day. If you can’t get the team to respond to your leadership, then your world might come crashing down around you as it did for the aliens in the movie. Remember these words and watch the team turn this thing around. Happy Independence Day to all! This team meeting is now adjourned!