Remember 2006? Way back when, when Billy Wagner, Carlos Delgado, and Paul Lo Duca joined an already strong lineup headed by Jose Reyes, David Wright, and Carlos Beltran? Remember the walk-off wins, grand slams, and automatic bullpen? Remember the
champagne, Lo Duca hosing off the fans, and Gary Cohen saying, “After running roughshod over the National League, the Mets are NL East Champions,” as Cliff Floyd ran the final out in from lef field? Remember the reunion of the 1986 Mets, and how that ceremony at Shea seemed like the passing of the torch to the new can’t-miss champions from Queens? I do. And I miss those days.
It seems like so long ago. Maybe because since then, the Mets were upset in the 2006 NLCS, have blown a seven-game lead with seventeen to go in 2007, endured the sudden, Titanic-like decline of Delgado, and are now struggling to tread water at the .500 mark like many other National League teams with half the Mets’ payroll.
In 2006, they would have never lost two straight one-run games to the Padres while scoring a grand total of two runs. They would have never let their momentum run out against a last-place team. And they would have never been 5.5 games behind the Phillies in early June.
The time to blame Willie Randolph has passed – he can’t do anything more for a team that is aging, injured, and inconsistent. The scary chill running up your spine is the nagging notion that this team is simply past its prime, and can’t win with its current roster.
Reyes and Wright are hitting, Beltran is streakier than a window cleaned with motor oil, but will probably get on a tear before all is said and done, but the supporting cast is clearly subpar.
The Mets don’t need an overhaul, just a tune up. But it just doesn’t seem that one new part here or there will get this jalopy firing on all cylinders again. That means there is plenty of hope for 2010. That also means there is little hope for 2009.