Ever since I moved to Los Angeles in 2006, I anxiously awaited the release of the Mets upcoming schedule so I could see when they were coming West. That first season, I couldn’t wait for them to come to LA in June, so I drove down to San Diego when they played there in April. In June I saw them in beautiful Dodger Stadium, then followed them to Arizona to watch a game in the warehouse-like BOB (as in Bank One Ballpark, its name before Chase gobbled up the bank and put its own name on the field).
As the years went on, the trips out of town ended but I still took the short drive to Dodger Stadium to see my hometown team. Not this year, though. Even though it was circled on my calender, I just didn’t want to go. Why spend upwards of $100 to watch an offense that can’t get out if its own way when I can watch the game on TV? After watching those games, I didn’t regret my decision in the least.
What a difference four years make. That 2006 road trip went down in team history — the Mets went 9-1 in LA, Arizona and Philadelphia, solidifying their hold on the NL East. This time around, they went 2-9 (including one gift win from the umpires) in San Francisco, Arizona and LA, losing their grip on the Wild Card chase. The Mets were shut out four times, managing only 23 runs — that’s an average of two runs per game. That is not going to get it done, and it certainly didn’t.
The only positive you can take away from this trip is that the pitching was generally pretty good — two of those shutouts were 1-0, the other two 2-0. They also lost by the score of 3-2 twice, and 4-3 once. If the Mets offense could even gave approached a mediocre level, they could have easily gone at least 6-5.
So what happens now? Yesterday I called for the firing of Jerry Manuel, but that won’t happen for one simple reason — if Omar Minaya fires Manuel, then Minaya himself is the next to go if things turn even worse. If he fires Howard Johnson as I expect he might, even though Minaya says no changes are planned, then he still has someone else to blame (Manuel) if the downward trend continues. Minaya certainly wants to build a winner, but he’s also fighting to save his own neck.
Speaking of fighting, how about that scene on the mound yesterday between Manuel and R.A. Dickey? If you missed it, Dickey apparently tweaked his hamstring in the 6th inning. He convinced Manuel and the trainer that he should remain in the game. But two batters later after hobbling off the mound if field a grounder, they paid another trip to the mound.
This time Manuel wanted to take Dickey out. Dickey protested — in fact, I can’t recall ever seeing a pitcher plead that much to stay in a game. He didn’t seem to yell — it all seemed very professional and respectful. But when it was all said and done, Dickey was gone.
“R.A., he’s a bulldog,” Manuel said after the game. “He is a tremendous competitor and he wanted to stay in the game in the worst way. But because I saw him trying to protect it, I didn’t think it was wise to let him throw anymore.”
“Jerry and I, we are just now learning how to communicate with one another,” Dickey said. “He needs to know what he can trust. He knows I am a competitor. He has managed competitors his whole life, so a lot of people tell him one thing, when in actuality it’s something totally different. I respect Jerry immensely, and more than that I know without a shadow of a doubt that he has my best interests at heart.”
Dickey said he doesn’t expect to miss his next start. Let’s hope he’s right, because the Mets really can’t do without him right now.