At the end of the not-so merry month of May, Mickey Callaway, first-year manager of the New York Mets, looked around, surveyed the landscape and declared “We have hit rock bottom.’’
And then came June, busting out all over.
Callaway’s club played 26 games in June and somehow managed to win five of them, tumbling into last place in the National League East. That 5-21 record was the worst June in franchise history, worse even than 1962, their first year in the baseball business, when the team lost a record 120 games. That June in that terrible summer, the Mets went 8-23 after starting the month by losing six straight games.
The difference between those Mets and these Mets is that the original team was amusing. This one is flat out boring. The original Mets had Casey Stengel, double-talking his way through all the losing. This one has Callaway, seemingly bewildered by all the losing, telling us how much easier it would be for the players if this was Cleveland instead of New York.
Welcome to the Big Apple, the city that never sleeps.
The original Mets had Marvelous Marv Throneberry, who once hit a triple but neglected to touch first or second base on his way to third. The current Mets lost a rally when they batted out of order. No one is certain if the original Mets pulled that Little League blunder but they were certainly capable of it.
The original Mets acquired catcher Harry Chiti from Cleveland for a player to be named later and when later came, returned Chiti as the player they owed Cleveland. Player moves are more sophisticated these days but it should be noted that in an effort to help their bullpen, the team made free agent Anthony Swarzak their first free agent signing last winter. After he missed 2 ½ weeks of spring training with an injury he pulled up lame in the first week of the season and spent the next two months on the disabled list.
Then there were their other free agent signings – Jay Bruce, Jason Vargas, Todd Frazier and Adrian Gonzalez. Bruce, Vargas and Frazier have all had disabled stints, Gonzalez was released in June.
The 1962 Mets were slow and old. The 2018 edition is also slow and old. The 1962 Mets had no prospects in their farm system. The 2018 Mets are in the same situation.
They start out July hoping things will change. One thing does not. On July 1, they cut a check for nearly $1.2 million to Bobby Bonilla, who was smart enough to backload his last contract, Bonilla, who last played for the Mets in 1999, will continue to get July 1 paydays from them until 2035.
So on they move to the dog days of summer. With general manager Sandy Alderson on medical leave, the front office is being run by three people –Omar Minaya, J.P. Ricciardi and John Ricco. Decisions by committee are complicated in every business to say the least.
Do they blow this thing up and try to start over? Or do they try some patchwork solution to get through the season? Who knows how catastrophic this will all become? By the time it’s over, the fans may be yearning for Cab Calloway instead of Mickey Callaway.