To his credit, Mets manager Buck Showalter refuses to put a spin on the team’s poor play of late. To him, it’s get on with it and play better.
Losers of seven of their last ten games, the Mets are playing like they don’t have a right to be any better than their 17-18 record with almost a quarter of the season in the books.
The class of the N.L. East is still the Atlanta Braves, and if Buck Showalter‘s Mets have any dream of catching their perennial rival, it’s not too early to wonder if the current seven-game deficit isn’t temporary.
There’s a reason why the Mets, losers of four straight series, chose to hire Buck Showalter, though, and it couldn’t be more apparent than during yesterday’s post-game news conference when he stoically sat there to deliver a brief message to his team – “We have to play better.”
Buck Showalter: There’s No Crying In Baseball
There’s a temptation to take Showalter’s terse summation of his team’s poor play of late as trite and dismissive.
In a setting from years past, the message would have been different, and everything would point to injuries sustained by Justin Verlander, Edwin Diaz, and the suspension of Max Scherzer.
Bad breaks, bad hops, poor umpiring – anything but the truth, which is the Mets look terrible, and there is no cause to wonder why their record isn’t better than it is.
In Showalter’s view, and he’s been consistent throughout his career, the Mets control their destiny, and when things are going wrong, it’s time to remember – there’s no crying in baseball.
Mets: To Each His Own (Accountability)
Buck Showalter doesn’t believe it is his job to motivate the Mets players. He views each of them as professionals accountable to the team, the fans, and themselves.
So, if Scherzer wants to play around by skirting the rules to the team’s detriment, that’s on him. The Same can be said for Daniel Vogelbach falling asleep and getting picked off second base in the middle of a Mets’ rally the other night.
Conversely, a better approach is seen when one day after a costly mistake on the bases extinguished a potential ninth-inning comeback, Brandon Nimmo bounced back with a solo home run and a diving catch in center field Friday as the Mets beat the Rockies 1-0, at Citi Field.
Nimmo “gets” what Showalter is saying: you are only as good (or wrong) as your last game, and the only way to approach the game of baseball is to put yesterday behind you as quickly as possible. I.E., Play better tomorrow.
For the Mets, however, there is no firm definition of what they must do to “play better.”
The Mets’ pitching staff gives up more home runs and base-on balls than any team in the National League. Against that, however, the Mets are solid in the field, with the second-best fielding percentage and the fewest errors in the league.
So, as Showalter seems to infer, we can look at “the numbers” all day long in search of answers. Still, in the end, it’s a useless exercise because the only solution for the Mets is to play better during the upcoming road series in Cincinnati and Washington.
If they don’t (play better), the results will be the same, and the Mets will lose two more series to two inferior teams they should easily beat.
Buck Showalter: No Spin, No Excuses
No spin, no excuses; it is how Buck Showalter leads his team, a marked contrast, I must add, to the Mets neighbors in the Bronx.
The Mets can consider themselves fortunate that, at this point, an onslaught of rain forced a rainout calling for a doubleheader in August against the Braves. They’ll get another chance when they travel to Atlanta June 6-8.
But the outcome of that series largely depends on what the Mets do beginning tonight against the Reds. Every game counts, or none of them matter.
Buck Showalter knows that, and it’s time Mets players play as though they know it, too.