By: Belinda Smith

Is it Really Over Until It’s Over?

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Teetering on the abyss.  Is this cold, dark and frustrating place the bottom?  The absolute, granite, rock-hard and unforgiving bottom?

The offensive numbers are horrific.  Yes, the Mets are at the top of the heap in terms of homeruns for a team.  But as the Yankees have demonstrated to the rest of the universe, you cannot count on the three-run homerun as your only offense.

I thought things were bad last year pre-Cespedes but this year makes me reach for the Pepto Bismol.  In the shortest off-season in Mets history, we danced, we sang, we waited for pitchers and catchers to report.  We waited for spring training games in Port St. Lucie, longed for the sound of balls on bats and sunshine and hot dogs and a beer.  This was going to be our year.  Remember the hashtag:  #unfinishedbusiness.

When the reporters started picking the Mets to win the division and the pennant, I became a little worried.  When the Nationals signed the no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners Dusty Baker as their new manager, I grew concerned.  I knew the Pirates, the Dodgers, the Cardinals, the Cubs, and the Nationals were going to be out for blood this season.  We lost Murphy and we all thought, well, Murphy is a not-so-great second baseman who hits .265/.270 and hits maybe 10-15 homeruns a year.  Not a huge loss.

But in the back of my mind, I was worried.  We had all heard that if these pitchers stay healthy and can pitch to their potential, it would be off the chain.  We drooled at the prospect of one of the best – if not the best – starting pitching in the major leagues.  And Zack Wheeler, waiting in the wings.

April started and things were good.  The National League pennant was raised.  Then came May.  Oh, we thought – it’s early.  We still have such a long way to go.

But as I write this, tomorrow is July 1.  The All-Star game is next week.  Things are not good.  And we may be at rock bottom.  ESPN says that the Mets team batting average is .233.  There are four players hitting above .270 (Kelly Johnson, Cespedes, Lagares and Loney).  Everyone else is hitting below.  How bad is it with our catchers?  Steven Matz, at .208, is hitting better than all three catchers, whose combined average is .193.  Michael Conforto, who had a brilliant half-rookie season last year and a great April has bottomed out to .222 and has been out-sourced to Vegas.  The combined team batting average is .233.  The futility of bringing runners home has reached epic proportions.

And the injuries.  They are dropping like flies.  Wright.  Duda.  d’Arnaud.  Zack Wheeler.  Lagares.  Duda, I hear on sports talk radio, is two weeks away from even starting any baseball activity.  Matz and Syndergaard are going to pitch through bone spurs.  And our Captain, oh Captain, David Wright, may be gone for good.

So where are we now?  A bedraggled starting pitching staff (Yes – Matt Harvey’s won/lost record is a staggering 4-10 and yes, he is on target to possibly lose 20 games this year) that may or may not be suffering from pitching so many innings last year.  An anemic offense.  A bullpen, that aside from La Familia (a la Jim Breuer), causes panic attacks.  De Aza, who has been a complete and utter disappointment and may find himself DFA’d once the Mets bring back Reyes and Lagares.  Duda is still a month away and no offensive catching to speak of.

Is there a blue and orange lining in this playbook?  The pivotal series, thus far, begins tonight against the Cubs.  Brandon Nimmo had an impressive at-bat in the eighth inning of last night’s game, going toe-to-toe against Matt Scherzer before drawing a walk.  Lagares and Reyes might bring some fresh bats going into the second half.  Zack Wheeler is scheduled to return.

But as I listened to Howie and Josh last night, there was a tinge of a struggle to stay optimistic.  The Mets managed one hit off of Scherzer until he was pulled and to Logan Verret’s credit, he did his job, keeping them close before the bullpen came in and we reached for the anti-anxiety medication.  According to Ed Coleman, the Mets have the exact same record this year as they did at the exact same time last year.  But what is most surprising is they have scored the exact number of runs v. this time last year.  The Mets are in third place and only three games above .500 – a place I never thought they would be at this point this season.  Did we witness a glimpse into the “what can be possible” last year, or was it only the abyss staring back at us?

About Belinda Smith

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