Since June 17, when Jerry Manuel became manager, the Mets have lost one and won one, won one and lost one, won one and lost two and won two and lost two, and won one and lost one and won one and lost one.
I’m not getting on Manuel for this. I have great hopes for him. The Mets were playing like this, pretty much, before he came. And there was plenty of ire and gall about Willie’s excessively even temper, and Rick Peterson’s equanimity.
I don’t know if I have ever seen a Mets .500 team that played so close to .500 so consistently. These Mets may not even have had a day all season when they have had a runs scored total that was more than five runs away from their runs scored against total. There’s getting to be something freaky about this.
In the past, it has generally been different. Mets .500 teams usually look at some point in the season as if they are more or less than a .500 team. The .500 they end up with is usually the result of some sort of concluding streak or slump. This was true of all of those .500 teams at the start of the ‘70s and it was true of the 2005 team, which wildly gyrated at the end.
Of course the season isn’t over, but it has certainly acquired a personality by this point. It has a give with one hand, take back with the other personality, a marching in place personality, a fits and starts personality, something that from a distance looks like a wave pattern even if, from day to day, it feels like something that may actually go in just one direction. After awhile, we get so dulled by this maddeningly repetitive pattern that we feel that no good game really means anything (look at the several good games we’ve had this week) and no bad game means anything either (look at the ones this week too). Meaning is the sum. And the sum is a flat landscape exactly halfway between heaven and hell. In such a place, it is hard to understand anything, and it’s hard to be anything.
And it’s all the more meaningless because we’re only four games out. The Mets are not being rewarded for the way they’re playing, but they’re not really being penalized either. The division will probably go to the team that can manage a September streak.
So, here we are in July. Nothing is real and there’s nothing to get hung about. There’s just a repetitive hum. Like an engine getting primed, ready to start moving. Or like some torture technique. One or the other.