By Rich Coutinho
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We all know what a horrible stretch of baseball the Mets have shown their fans since the All-Star break. They have lost 12 of their last 13 games and there are signs that the frustration is beginning to get to them. On Wednesday, Tim Byrdak seemed openly upset with catcher Josh Thole over his pitch selection and although he later apologized to Thole, a veteran pitcher like Brydak should know better since he has the power to shake off a young catcher in a key spot in the game. But there is a bigger issue here according to Terry Collins.
“We are going to get this turned around”, says the Mets manager,” and we will see a different team in the next few days. But we must remember that we don’t make excuses and this team has to stand up and be accountable. We showed in the first half we were good enough to compete and now that times are tough we need to pick up each other.” Collins appeared particularly peeved at Brydak for his actions and I would surmise he used this as an opportunity to tell his team he would not tolerate anything less.
“Losing is one thing”, says David Wright, “but the way we are going about our jobs is unacceptable. This is not the way we behaved in the first half and Terry stressed that. He cares deeply about everyone in this clubhouse and we need to start a nice streak. Two weeks of the second half will not define us if we start to win some games but this is no fun.”
The Mets head out on an 11-game road trip that will take them to Arizona, San Francisco, and San Diego, which is not the best setting to orchestrate a winning streak. “We need to have each other’s backs and stick together” continues Wright, “When you have a losing streak like this in a fishbowl like New York, we all have to be on the same page. We have to use this as an opportunity to come together as a team.”
I have been in a bunch of locker rooms in the last three decades of covering Mets baseball and finger-pointing is usually the first sign of the beginnings of a crack in that room. We all know this Met team has fallen down the chute but I honestly did not think team chemistry would ever be an issue. But losing does strange things to people for one simple reason-everybody starts looking for a parachute but there are never enough to go around–and so finger-pointing is an easy way to deflect blame from yourself.
How do you fight that? You look in the mirror and make sure you are prepared to pitch, hit, coach or manage depending on your role. You take the field with a singular purpose and if you lose, you lose with no regrets. You put everything on the line no matter where you are in the standings. I have seen that all year from this group except for the past few days. It is OK to lose your way a little bit in how you react to losing. After all, we are all human. But winning in sports has always been about one simple concept–You win as a team and you lose as a team. Leave the finger pointing to the media because that is what they do.
That is what the Mets must think about on their long flight to Arizona. It will define them as players and people. This team spent the better part of the first three months of the season thinking about each other, pulling for each other, and encouraging each other. And I think it helped them win. They need to find that groove real soon if they are to save their season. But more importantly, they need to be able to look at themselves in the mirror.
And all of that may not be enough to save this season because this team has issues but at the very least they will go down with a fight. It is what I’ve come to respect about the 2012 Mets. And I think win or lose, Met fans expect that from this team.
Do the Mets have what it takes to turn the season around? Be heard in the comments section below…