No matter what line of work you're in, learning on the job is going to lead to mistakes. It's true if you're a waiter, a receptionist or left fielder for the New York Mets. Unfortunately for Daniel Murphy, the last of those jobs is performed in public. When you butcher line drives as badly as Murphy butchered Brendan Ryan's in the eighth inning last night, people notice and blame you for 6-4 losses.
It was a damaging play, but not nearly as damaging as Carlos Beltran's passive play in the top of the inning. Beltran was trying to score on a strange play in the eighth. Cardinals third baseman Joe Thurston dropped a throw, Beltran took off for home and Thurston ran it down in time to make a throw home. Beltran didn't slide and got tagged out by Yadier Molina.
Murphy fell down on a ball that he misjudged, which is lamentable but happens. Beltran's play, though, was the latest example of a Mets player trying to take the easy road when a little more effort would get the job done. It happens all the time when Carlos Delgado makes minimal attempts to get ground balls in the field, or when several Mets players don't run out fly balls to the outfield. It's the kind of passive approach that helped force Willie Randolph from his job, and it hasn't changed at all in 2009.
If Jerry Manuel hasn't made the change yet, it's hard to believe that he'll ever make it in a lasting way. That kind of change is fundamental to the Mets going forward, and it is one that provides a blinking reminder that the Mets didn't do anything to shake up this team after last year except for the bullpen. That was a risk that didn't pay off on Tuesday night.
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.