I have had to be very real with myself and my Mets fandom in the last few weeks.
This team is terrible. Willie Randoph was not the problem.
Jerry Manuel was not the problem. Neither was Luis Castillo, Oliver Perez, or any other single player.
The problem is mental. The problem is one of group psychology. There is something inherently wrong with he makeup of the players on this team as a group, and until it changes, nothing will change.
I look at Carlos Beltran, David Wright, and Jose Reyes, the longest tenured Mets at this point. Individually, they are all extremely talented players, who for whatever reason (and I don’t claim to have the answer) are unable to take that talent and succeed on the highest level. Carlos Beltran will forever be defined by Adam Wainwright’s curveball in ’06. David Wright will be forever defined as Captain Un-Clutch, or as I have taken to calling him K-vid Wright because I have never seen a more talented player look so consistently lost at the plate. Jose Reyes will forever be defined by plays like last night where he was caught napping leading off first, down one run in the ninth where he was doubled off on a failed bunt attempt. The frustration being that it was the fourth time he was on base last night, and scored only one run.
So, what is the problem then? I think I heard the answer last night. Not from David Wright, the supposed leader of this team, who is as full of excuses as he is terrible swings. Not from Terry Collins, who appears to have absolutely no control over what is going on with this team, and sounded totally fine during his post game presser last night, when he should have been airing out his lazy players for their awful play. It wasn’t from Carlos Beltran, who instead of taking Angel Pagan, his protegé, under his wing and explaining to him how god awful his base running has been and how his lack of production is killing this team, has been loafing after balls in the outfield.
No, I heard the answer from the least likely of sources. R.A. Dickey, the Mets knuckleballing “Ace”, who was as honest and candid as I have ever heard a major league player, or any player for that matter in my sports watching life.
Following the latest Mets implosion, Dickey threw himself, and his teammates by extension, under the bus, the classiest and most honest way I have ever heard. What he said in essence is that as 25 men, they have to stop saying “We are getting unlucky, we need to play better, we are better than this, we need to execute” as those are simply empty words, and be honest about who they are, what they are doing wrong, and find a way to fix it. To say I was left speechless would be an understatement.
Dickey’s exact words were:
“It starts with me. We have to find a way to be honest with ourselves about what kind of team we are. We can’t just keep telling ourselves, ‘Oh, we’re a better team than this.’ We may not be. And we’ve got to be honest about that, and identify what we’re doing wrong, and do it better. That’s the only way you have any real growth…If we keep waltzing through the season and saying, ‘Oh, we’re better than this,’ or ‘We’ve had some bad breaks,’ or ‘The umpires are bad,’ we’re going to look back and kick ourselves in the butt because we’ve done nothing about it. We’re walking too many guys, we’re not hitting with runners in scoring position. If you can identify the problem, it doesn’t have to be psychologically so overbearing.”
I think this was so powerful to me because this is how I try to live my life. Analyze what you do, think about the outcome you desire, determine what action is needed to obtain the outcome, if the desired outcome is not obtained, be real and honest about why not, and act differently in the future.
This is ground breaking because this type of talk has not come from the Mets in 4 or 5 years. There is 0 accountability for failure, because there has always been an excuse. David Wright is the face of this for me. He always has a reason why the outcome was what it was, without ever owning his own failure. He never says “We failed because I struck out with runners on first and third with one out.”
I have no idea if Dicky’s comments will have an impact, I have no idea what kind of voice he has in that room of men. What I do know is, Carlos Beltran isn’t speaking up, David Wright isn’t speaking up so someone has to.
I am still waiting for a beat reporter to ask Terry Collins this question: “If your entire focus this spring was on fundamentals and playing the game the right way, and your team has the worst record in the league for no other reason than they are the least fundamentally sound, most undisciplined, unfocused team who does none of the little things right, is that your failure, or your players failure?”
I am so disappointed. There is not Jerry Manuel to fire, there is no Oliver Perez to send packing. This is the team and the manager that I was hoping for, these just are the results I have hoping for.