No matter how you slice a baseball season, a team figures to win 60 games and lose 60 games regardless. The remaining 42 determines the success or failure of that season.
Some losses, of course, hurt more than others and last night’s 9-8 balk-off heartbreaker in 10 innings could be one of those games if the Mets cave into the negative expectations thought of them coming out of spring training.
However, I don’t look at sweeping the Braves in Atlanta as much a sign of progress as I do how they bounce back from last night.
It was clear R.A. Dickey was off his game and for much of the night it appeared they would simply go down at the hands of Chipper Jones – the real owner of the Mets. However, Jason Bay got a couple of hits and drove in a run and Scott Hairston tied the game with a homer.
All of a sudden, we were looking at a new Mets team, one of grit and fight. Amazingly, the Mets were going to sweep, but Francisco Rodriguez coughed up the lead, and well, you know the rest.
To lose on D.J. Carrasco’s balk was one of those things you never saw coming, yet something not surprising with how things have gone the past few years. Right, typical Mets.
OK, what next?
They could either look at last night as devastating, and now that they are below .500 again, slide into obscurity and take the summer with them. Or, they could demonstrate the resiliency they’ve shown the past three weeks and regroup.
Baseball teams aren’t often fueled by emotions as teams in football and basketball, but the Mets have an opportunity as they come home to feed off the anger and disappointment from last night and continue their building. The season is far from over, but for the Mets the season will be defined by the next six weeks.
If they stumble, management could pull the plug and begin the fire sale. In the back of our minds, that’s something we’ve anticipated all along. Even now, with Jose Reyes playing so well, half the fan base is waiting for him to be traded.
However, should they recover and play well, this team could stay intact and try to make a run at a wild card. No, there doesn’t figure to be any serious acquisitions because of the Wilpon’s legal and financial issues, but there could be enough tinkering to make this an interesting, enjoyable and unexpected summer.