In an article on MLB.com yesterday Marty Noble quoted an unnamed Met as saying that "we play at the temperature of the manager. I know Willie cares a lot, but he's not showing it much." Mike and the Mad Dog talked about it with Paul Lo Duca yesterday and Lo Duca wouldn't say anything when they asked if the manager should have come out to join arguments the catcher and Marlon Anderson had about balls and strikes. That all led to a team meeting before last night's game with the Nats which David Lennon of Newsday astutely pointed out can have two results - Team wins and manager a genius or team loses and manager a desperate sap. I guess that makes Randolph a desperate sap.
The Mets lost 9-8 in Washington last night thanks to a terrible outing from their starter. The last time a Maine got shelled like that Teddy Roosevelt charged up a hill; John gave up 11 hits and eight runs before getting the hook one out into the fifth inning. By that point the Mets had blown three seperate four-run leads and whatever fire they might have generated with the meeting was snuffed out. Watching the Mets is watching a dead team right now. If they pitch well they don't hit. If they score eight runs, their staff gets lit up for nine. If they pitch ok and hit ok, they can't catch the ball. It doesn't add up to wins and that's obviously going to fall on Willie.
Michael Kay was pontificating during the Yankee game last night that he doesn't understand why people would criticize Randolph for having such an even keel since, after all, he studied at the Joe Torre school of serenity. What Kay didn't mention is that when the Yankees have a rough patch people always criticize Torre for not getting angry and not throwing bats because they expect to see their manager's passion to snap a losing streak boiling over. The difference between the two seems to be that back in the day when the Yankees needed to show some grit and fire they had a Paul O'Neill to personify it and in recent years they've lacked that kind of attitude on the team. That's the same problem the Mets have. Lo Duca is a fiery little guy but he doesn't seem like he's got the whole clubhouse in his corner but the rest of the team looks like they couldn't care less about what's going on. I'm sure it's not true but when Maine ran into trouble last night the team just deflated and even when they rallied in the ninth it didn't feel like the win was there for the taking.
What snaps the losing spell? A great start would be, well, a great start. It's Mike Pelfrey tonight, though, and the Nats are definitely loving their spoiler role. Their fans aren't, there were about 750 people at the game last night and most seemed to be staffers from Charlie Rangel's office, but the Nats are playing like it's the World Series. Hats off to Manny Acta for that and the Mets should try to follow their lead. They could also use the old Jose Reyes and a dose of good luck but that good start would make everything so much easier.