Condolences go out to Rickey and Mike who had to endure a slow-motion car wreck of a collapse by the Mets over the last few weeks. I wouldn't wish that kind of agony on anyone. Well, except Yankee fans. And most other Met fans...
While I lived in NYC, I overcame my '86-based hatred of the Mets and adopted them as my NL team and used them as a proxy Sox to counter the Yanks. I even bought (limited) season ticket packages a couple years. Plenty of guys I liked on the team then, and even now. I was there for the raucous Todd Pratt walk-off game against the D-Backs sitting right behind the plate, but in the very top row, and I actually feared for my life the way that upper deck bounced.
As a Sox fan who for intermittant periods this September seemed to be on the verge of a similar collapse from the "best record in the League" all the way to blowing the Division, I can relate. But they got the job done. The Mets were brutal—top to bottom—with very few exceptions. Minaya never equipped this team with the pitching they needed—coasting on a big lead, and counting on a dominant return from Pedro was a foolish strategy. Almost as foolish as giving Pedro a 4-year deal. Now, I loves me some Petey, and he is one of the few guys getting a pass from me—he battled back from surgery and gave this team gutty performances and a chance to win every time he pitched down the stretch, and they wasted them.
Forget Scott Kazmir, think the Mets would like to have Brian Bannister still? They gave up an ALROY candidate for 23 innings of Ambiorix Burgos. Actually, don't forget Scott Kazmir: Tom Glavine gave up as many runs in the first inning yesterday as Kazmir did the whole month of September—seven. The Kazmir deal is bad on a Bagwellian level. Actually worse, because Bagwell was a fringe prospect, while Kazmir was a highy-regarded flamethrowing lefty. If he was pitching in Queens this season instead of on the worst team in the AL East, he'd be an Cy Young/MVP caliber ace. His performance in TB (13-9, 3.48, league-leading 230 Ks) this season would probably have been good for twenty wins and an ERA under 3 in the NL.
What am I getting at? I'm saying Omar Minaya did a shit job as G.M. Throwing too much money and too many years at guys like Pedro, Delgado, Alou, Green and a host of downside veterans. He has followed the old Yankees strategy and it blew up big time this year. This roster was riddled with injury-risks and potential cliff-diving collapses, and none of it should have been a surprise. After last year, they were complacent when they should have turned things over.
Randolph beat his bullpen every bit as badly as Torre, but he didn't have a Joba Chamberlain to save his ass. He relied too heavily and too long on under-performing veterans in many cases, though he was hamstrung by the tools Minaya left him with.
But the blame* really lies with the players who just flat out stopped playing when it mattered most. They didn't lose nailbiters, they got their asses kicked in all areas. This might look like a photo-finish with two teams tied going into the final game of the season, but the reality is the Mets were dead men walking for weeks.
Blow it up.
UPDATE: *Actual blame goes to Rickey's beard.
Toasted Joe (not to be confused with Toast) offered a Baldwinian challenge to the Mets the other day worth reading.
UPDATE 2: Fantastic rant from Metstrodamus.