Instead of playing like a team that was suddenly going to turn it on; a team that was going to make the big push through the end of August and into September - they started playing like a bunch of little leaguers.
Sure you have to stay positive, but the New York Metropolitans are falling out of contention faster than Martha Stewart sells her own stock.
If you walk around the ball park and talk to the players, they'll look at you and say something along these lines: "Don't worry, we'll turn it around." Maybe a month ago you would have believed them.
Now you turn away and try not to let them see you laugh.
Former All-Stars, MVPs, Gold Glove winners, stolen base kings – man, they absolutely dominated the Hot Stove League. But when you turn on your TV on any given Sunday this September, you won't be sitting on the edge of your seat watching the Mets in the middle of a torrid race; you'll be cheering on the Jets or Giants.
The wild card looked reachable not too long ago. Heck, the bats were coming alive and the pitching was still there. Shea Stadium was rocking and the hype on talk shows was growing. Hearts were pumping faster. Maybe…just maybe.
But we were all fooling ourselves, thinking that this team had the energy and the stomach to stay in a playoff race. Fans going crazy over a silly little streak…we should feel ashamed, allowing ourselves to be tricked like that.
Now it's time to admit that we root for a .500 team with a 100 million dollar payroll.
As much as it hurts – and, oh, does it hurt - nothing that we, the oh-so-faithful, have seen in the last few weeks can allow us to believe any differently. Heading into last night's game, the Mets were fighting just to have more wins than losses.
There are no real signs of effort, just a team going through the motions, day in and day out. And when we say the word "team" with regard to the Mets, we're really stretching the definition.
As the clock runs out on this nauseating season, we have to force ourselves to watch. On the field, its back to the same old, all-too-familiar, story; struggling to score runs and playing poor defense. Little leaguers collecting big league paychecks….
Roberto Alomar has an injured groin, Edgardo Alfonzo is on the disabled list, and the team is plummeting rapidly. Mo Vaughn is finally starting to hit, but too little, too late, as his team's chances float away like a hot air balloon at the County Fair. Mo hitting does not translate into 'mo' wins.
We thought this was our year, our time to knock off Atlanta and gain control of first place in the National League East. The personnel going out on the field every day might have thought so, too, but you'd never know it from the way they've played all season.
Here's a snapshot of the Mets' season for you: Jeromy Burnitz shaking his head in disgust after another strikeout.
And that shot is part of a much larger collage: Balls floating over the head of an outfielder who never played the position before; veteran players getting picked off base in crucial situations; muffed grounders; dropped fly balls; misplayed pop-ups; rally-killing double plays; rally-killing strikeouts; no rally at all…….
The dog days of summer have come far too quickly, and without any sign of the longed-for miracle.
"YA GOTTA BELIEVE", they shout, "YA GOTTA BELIEVE!" They hold up signs and cheer until they're hoarse.
I'll tell ya what you can believe – that it's another failed baseball season at Shea. Another year without a post-season in Flushing.
That's what ya gotta believe.
Writer Christopher Guy covers the Mets and is the football guru for NYFansOnly. E-mail him at NYMetsBelieve@aol.com.
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