Posted Tuesday, May 12, 2009
"You got to be careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there."
Winning streaks, like most things in life, eventually come to an end.
For the Mets, the end came after seven games, at home, with their ace on the mound, against hated rivals, and against a pitcher the Mets failed to sign in the off season, the pitcher who is not Ollie
So on the night the streak ends the question that naturally comes to mind is were those Mets of the seven preceding games an illusion or were those Mets of the seven preceding games the destiny?
Well for starters, one might have considered this seven game winning streak as the The End of the Curse of Ollie.
The streak began the game after Ollie's final, repulsive outing and after he'd been banished to the disabled list with a mysterious knee ailment which was no doubt a simple exacerbation of a pre-existing inability to focus and an inflated ERA. He might not be with the team but he is still everywhere, crept into everyone's thoughts the Friday Night as Jon Niese pitched victory over the Pirates in Ollie's place, in the backs of everyone's mind in every one of those quality starts throughout the streak and of course last night as the Mets were facing Derek Lowe who as every knows, the Mets didn't sign when signing Ollie instead. (Shall we repeat that thrice, as a chorus?)
But Ollie, the poster child for Mets psychological ailments, the human piñata in the room everyone takes a swing at, the scapegoat for so many nights of misery, maybe even Manny's new BP pitcher in the PED League, had no hand in last night's streak-end.
Instead careless errors, the usual lack of run support for Johan and a visit from the 2008 bullpen from hell comprised their loss, the end of that feel-good moment that lasted 7 games.
Were the Mets merely posing these last 7 games when they raised our expectations, proved for a brief flicker of time that their power wasn't just on paper but could be on field as well? Were they rising above themselves, making a last gasp before collapsing, miserably once again back into the paralysing stupor of their incapacity to put opponents away? Were they kidding themselves and us all by thinking for that 7 game period that things were going to turn out alright after all?
We don't know of course.
Failing to execute at the plate and on the field are nothing new for the Mets with Santana on the mound. They seem to think they can just toss their gloves and bats on to the field and sit in the dugout and watch Johan win the game on his own. Much in the way, apparently, as was tellingly revealed by Reyes the other day in a fit of post-winning streak euphoria, that the Mets have played against supposedly inferior opponents in the past. Without passion, without urgency, simply expecting to win and their sad performance in support of Santana would seem to indicate their winning streak taught them nothing about giving their all, always, every batter, every pitch, every game.
Winning streaks end and sometimes new ones replace them. Sometimes losing streaks replace them. Sometimes winning streaks are little blips that blow into season-long stretches and sometimes the dizzying heights of success are simply too much to replicate.
One loss after a seven game winning streak means in itself very little.
After all, the supposed strength of this team, the revamped bullpen, failed miserably last night. Not as miserably as Reyes' goat imitation in the 7th or Pedro Feliciano's predictable decline thereafter, but it failed and it failed before the set-up man or the closer even could get there to the rescue.
Because you can't win every game you can shrug your shoulders at one loss after seven victories in a row and think it had to happen sometime.
Or, you can wonder if the streak shouldn't have gone on longer. Had the Mets been more focused on the field, if they hadn't continued their unconscionable failure to support their ace, Johan, their team savior, if Jerry had left Johan out there for more in the 7th instead of turning to his pen. You can wonder all you like but it's over.
What matters most of course, is what the Mets do tonight and the afternoon after that. Will they embark upon another streak demonstrating all of those lovable qualities they exhibiting during The Streak?
Or will they revert back to mediocrity, their truer selves, keen to shrug their shoulders and shake their heads knowing all along a winning streak was never their true destiny to begin with?
The tiny clue you might consider again, the lack of will in the Mets when they think something should be easy. If they're playing a seemingly mediocre opponent or if they've got their ace on the mound, in both scenarios their apathy and lack of will disappoint.
That much hasn't changed during the streak and that much could be enough of an anchor to keep weighing them down all season.