And the Hits Just Keep On Coming

Walk-off homer becomes latest indignity for the Mets

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Anybody else remember Art Howe? The unlamented Mets manager of 2003 and 2004 used to meet the media after a brutal Mets loss and tell them over and over again that the team battled.

    "We battled" was to Art Howe what "Serenity now" was to George Costanza: A mantra that neither relieved stress nor came remotely close to telling the true story of what was going on in real life.

    Howe comes to mind because Jerry Manuel was talking a lot about his team's fight after Chris Iannetta homered off of Jenrry Mejia to win Wednesday night's game 6-5 in 10 innings. That's kinda true, so long as you ignore the fact that Iannetta made an error to allow the Mets to tie the game in the ninth, but it also rings as hollow as Howe's eternal belief in his team's battling spirit. The Mets still lost and there's still no hope in sight that things are going to get better.

    Jon Niese got crushed, that's four straight bad starts, and left the bullpen to do heavy lifting for the second night in a row. With no days off until April 29th, the relievers should probably get used to that kind of regimen. After all, it's not like there are any replacements for the starters waiting to come and save the day. 

    Want to send John Maine to Buffalo and give him time to work out his mental issues? Enjoy Pat Misch or R.A. Dickey. It might not be any worse than what's already on hand, but it certainly isn't any better either. Mejia would be the best option for a new arm in the rotation or he would be if he wasn't spending time in the bullpen for a team that's going nowhere fast. 

    No, quick fixes don't exist for this Mets team. The pitching has been awful, but it's not like the lineup is reminding anyone of Murderer's Row. They went 1-12 with runners in scoring position on Wednesday night and there's not going to be much help in that department until Carlos Beltran finds his way back into uniform.

    And, on top of it all, you've got Jerry Manuel making bizarre managerial moves like pinch-running Fernando Tatis for Mike Jacobs -- after the count went to 2-2 on Rod Barajas -- in the top of the 10th and leaving Alex Cora as the only pinch hitter for the pitcher. A minimal gain in speed traded for a sizable loss at the plate isn't the sign of a manager operating at a particularly high level. Now he's talking about batting Jose Reyes third again, which will have about the same impact on the team's record as the battling spirit shown by Howe's teams.

    Basically, the season is playing out exactly as everyone thought it would. That doesn't make it any less painful but at least you can brace for impact.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.