NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 23: Josh Thole #30 of the New York Mets flips his bat after striking out against the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field on August 23, 2012 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Mike Francesa is a radio host who isn't afraid to make his feelings known -- whether rational or irrational. The New York Mets happen to play in the area he's employed in, and they're playing abysmal baseball right now. With the two converging, you get what transpired Thursday afternoon on WFAN, where Francesa, a Mets hater, literally went biserk, shredding the Mets in a 10-minute rant where you felt like he was going to explode.
Whereas Francesa goes on tirades that leave even his most diehard fans scratching their heads, he did have valid points to make about the team from Queens. It was almost like the frustration from all the Mets fans combined were released.
What hit home to me the most was that it feels as if the Mets have packed it in. Francesa, in more words than one often with his voiced raised, made that point blatantly clear. When Terry Collins was hired as a manager, he made it clear that nobody under his watch would quit. Actions often speak louder than words. I can deal with the lack of production, but what no fan can accept is the boneheaded mistakes on the field. The basics any professional baseball player should be able to execute.
Thursday's 1-0 loss against the Colorado Rockies was a microcosm of this tailspin. The Mets got exceptional starting pitching from Collin McHugh in his major league debut. Jordany Valdespin would be an easy target to point the blame. He misplayed a line drive, which ended up being the winning run, in center field. But he's not an outfielder, so it's hard to say that was the most unacceptable occurrence. He did fail to lay down a bunt, though, in the seventh inning with a man on, and he was also thrown out stealing as well, in the third. But Mike Baxter's baserunning blunder was even more egregious as he was forced out at second base on a base hit from Ruben Tejada that he totally misjudged. It's hard not to slam your head against the wall when you see stuff like this.
Francesa, of course, made some comments that were off point, too. Sure, the Colorado Rockies are a team of minor leaguers, with literally nobody in their lineup (except for Carlos Gonzalez). But, let's be real here: the Mets, at this point, are only a step up. They play in a huge market and still have a relatively high payroll, so expectations are much greater than this. Still, the lineup is comprised of David Wright and a bunch of low-ceiling young players or journeymen.
In an increasingly lost season, there often isn't much to look forward to. When there is, the media tends to highlight them when they can. One of the few good stories from this year is the Mets' pitching staff, led by R.A. Dickey, but now rookies Matt Harvey and McHugh stealing some of the spotlight. Francesa obliterates SNY for calling these two the next coming of Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman -- and he mentions that neither are Nolan Ryan, despite both breaking his franchise strikeout marks. Francesa even says he had no clue who McHugh was until Thursday.
What I disdain most about media who just like to hear themselves speak is the total lack of perspective. I don't think any Mets fan -- or the SNY broadcasters -- think that either starter is the next coming. It is their job to highlight statistics, and let the audience know certain statistical comparisons when they're warranted, whether they seem realistic or not. The fact of the matter is, these young starters are the best stories on this team right now. Harvey has been tremendous and has given the team some life, something to look forward to. McHugh's narrative is even more amazing -- an 18th-round pick, now 25, getting his chance, giving up two hits and striking out nine in seven innings of his major league debut. Whether it's against the Rockies or the Yankees, it's a breath of fresh air. It's hope that maybe tomorrow will be better for this franchise, that maybe the (past) front office did do something commendable.
When all is said and done, the Mets should be bashed. They should be criticized. But it's still important to keep things in perspective, that there are some gems in every mess, that every nightmare isn't as dark as you perceive it, even if they are 11 games under .500 and 20.5 back of the division lead.