Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Alex Cora is mad as hell... and he should be

Fans hate it when players appear to care less about winning and losing than fans do. Hate it when they see the first baseman yukking it up with a baserunner, hate it when guys in the bullpen are seen chatting across the fence, hate it when they see players in the dugout smiling or laughing when the team is losing.

For the most part, it's a misplaced emotion. Fans will always believe that they care more about winning and losing and the team than the players because they are more emotionally invested in the team, and that investment is completely irrational.

Fans have have lived through the ups and downs over the years and have formed strong opinions on how the game should be played, how the manager should manage, who the front office needs to acquire. They base their lives around the schedule, live and die with every pitch, but benefit directly in no way from the team's success except in the joy they derive from seeing their team win.

That doesn't mean players don't care. Some clearly care more than others, but you're talking about athletes whose careers are based on competition. If they weren't competitive, they wouldn't be here. But it's a long season. A player who approached the season like the emotional roller coaster that the fans ride would be burnt out by June.

But perception is reality, and when fans see players appearing to not care, they believe it to be true. And so when the Mets dropped another game in Arizona, failing to generate any runs against Barry Enright, that was bad enough. Then we hear that Alex Cora had to yell at a group of players and media for laughing in the clubhouse following the loss. (According to Newsday, Cora yelled, "A little respect please ... They stuck it up our ***!")

That sh*t just won't fly.

That's the kind of thing that drives fans nuts, that makes them question the team chemistry now that Carlos Beltran and Luis Castillo are back in the lineup. Why are they laughing? DON'T THEY REALIZE HOW IMPORTANT THESE GAMES ARE?!

In the post-game, Bob Ojeda called the Mets out for not playing with any urgency in the ninth inning, and when you hear that from a former player, you have to take notice. But Ojeda also went on to say that when you're winning, the chemistry is always good. What it's really about is production.

Since August 1, the Mets are 5-11. In their last 11 games, they have averaged 1.9 runs per game and are hitting around .200. Their bullpen ERA in that span is above 6. The starting pitching is the only thing that's been positive (Mike Pelfrey excepted), and all that means is that good starts are being wasted by a struggling offense.

We've seen this happen to the offense before. It happens to all teams. This is just awful timing, coming on the road, with the Braves playing well, coinciding with Beltran's return and the lineup adjustments that had to be made to accommodate him. Also, the Mets offense features a lot of aggressive hitters, and when things are going bad, you get a lot of strikeouts and allow the opposing pitcher to throw less pitches and get into more of a rhythm.

That said, the Mets needed someone to kick them in the ass, and say what you want about Cora's meager production and range at second base, he is a competitor and a veteran and is respected the clubhouse. Hearing him get pissed off should send a message to the team that the time for jokes is over, that we're at the risk of seeing the season slip away.

There is a lot of baseball left. I can't see Atlanta maintaining this kind of success rate, and the Phillies are still in third (although there's a lot of chatter about them getting Roy Oswalt and maybe dealing Jayson Werth -- did you catch that, Omar?). There are many games left against those two clubs and a ton of home games in the final five weeks.

So there is time to get things together, and it has to start with the offense. Jason Bay needs to snap out of it. Josh Thole needs to stay on this team and keep hitting the way he has been. This lineup should produce, and it will.

Hopefully sooner than later.

1 comment:

  1. Season over!!!
    No leadership David wright is a mouse Beltran has never been a leader except for one good postseason.....Reyes is a dancing fool...Bay is having a bad year and its his first can't be a leader when you can't produce same for Francoueur..Its time to gets some grit get dirty and get back to 80s Mets baseball........This team is way too soft. As I stated way back in April...