There are roughly six weeks left of relevance in the season for the New York Mets. That takes into consideration the All-Star Game – Citi Field’s one chance to shine in the national spotlight – and past the trade deadline when we learn what Mets are rescued from the dark abyss of losing and brought into the shining light of a pennant race.
In praising Jon Niese’s spotty, yet gritty effort in another Mets’ loss Saturday to the Chicago Cubs, manager Terry Collins indirectly threw the rest of his team under the effort bus.
COLLINS: Alone with haunting thoughts? (Getty)
“Jon Niese didn’t have his good stuff,’’ an exasperated Collins told reporters. “He battled through six innings. He didn’t want to come out of the game. That’s what I want.’’
“I want guys who don’t want to come out of the game,’’ Collins continued. “I want guys that say, ‘I care enough, as much as you do, that I want to stay in the game.’ We get more guys like that, we’ll win more baseball games.’’
Niese did not pitch well, but gutted into the sixth inning. It wasn’t a quality effort, but a starter must persevere. Collins praised Niese, but in doing so said he doesn’t have enough players with that resolve. He didn’t say players have quit, but read between the lines.
There must be players not named David Wright or Matt Harvey wondering if the manager was talking about them.
It’s also a dig at general manager Sandy Alderson for not getting him those players. And, in going full circle, it can be interpreted an indictment of himself; that he and his staff aren’t doing enough to motivate his players.
I wrote after the Ike Davis demotion if management believed it was heading in the right direction Collins should get an extension to avoid lame duck status. But, after what he said, you can’t help but think the manager believes this team lacks more than talent and is in deeper than just a hitting slump.
In one part of the clubhouse Wright held court and admitted it is tiring trying to come up with new answers to old questions. Wright spoke of guys needing to dig deep and use whatever motivators necessary to finish strong.
Finishing the season? Doesn’t that sound a lot like getting it over with?
Wright is captain for a reason, but it is time he takes off the gloves. It is time he takes this team by the scruff of the neck and shake it awake. It isn’t time to be a politician and say the right things. It is time to lead, and if it means being unpopular, than so be it.
Motivation? How about this being their jobs? How about pride? How about being a professional? How about manning up?
“A lot these guys are going to be part of the future,’’ said Wright. I know what he is getting at there, but if I hear the word “future,’’ pertaining to the Mets one more time I will scream.
Does anybody else remember the late football coach George Allen? Allen, in filling his roster with veterans, coined the phrase, “the future is now.’’
But, what about now?
The Mets won’t win now, but they can play hard now. They can play smart now. They can hustle now. They can give us a reason to watch now. They can earn their money now.
So, quit the crap and play ball. And, as for Collins – quit whining about what you don’t have and kick the group you do have in its collective butt.
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