If I were the kind of person to define my life by the success of my sports teams, then 2006 was very close to the greatest year ever. Michigan used the nation’s top run defense to crush mediocre Big Ten offenses en route to an 11-0 record and #2 ranking going into the Ohio State game. The New York Mets won 97 games that year, had three legitimate MVP candidates (David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes) to go with a deep and experienced bullpen and a power-hitting first baseman Carlos Delgado who would go .351/.442/.757 with four homers in the playoffs. In the middle of October that year, I was a senior in high school everything with my teams was awesome.
Of course, this happened to Carlos Beltran, Michigan lost to Ohio State and both teams have gone splat since. But I’ll always have that awesome beginning of October 2006, when for once everything was *all good*.
The recent firing of Jerry Manuel and the nominal firing of Omar Minaya (he could still come back in “another capacity” I guess, but he’s gone) reminded me how far the Mets have fallen since then. A quick pictoral rundown of what has happened since Carlos Beltran’s knee-bending failure:
2007: The Collapse. Mets lose a 7-game division lead with 17 games left in the season. Tom Glavine gives up seven runs in the first inning without recording an out in the deciding game, and afterward tells the media he’s “not devastated.” He was not invited back.
2008. GM Omar Minaya fires manager Willie Randolph in the middle of the night during a west coast road trip, the Mets become a national media laughingstock, then for good measure go ahead and blow a playoff spot during the last week of the season for the second year in a row. These were painful times.
2009. The worst team of the Minaya era. David Wright suddenly couldn’t hit homeruns, and Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and Johan Santana all spent significant time on the disabled list. Wright was hit in the head with a Matt Cain fastball near the end of the season and had to wear an obnoxious big helment and everybody laughed at him. This was your 2009 Mets. Ridiculous.
Then this happened:
The 2010 Mets were only slightly less embarrassing than the 2009 Mets, and Jerry Manuel and GM Omar Minaya were fired just like everybody thought they would be. Meanwhile, Michigan lost to Appalachian State in 2007 to start off a disappointing year, head coach Lloyd Carr retired and Michigan hired former West Virginia head coach Rich Rodriguez, who installed his offense and has won a spectacular three conference games in three years.
Who knows: The Wilpons (owners of the Mets) might hire some brilliant GM named Alderson or Hahn or Ryan, who will consequently hire an effective manager who figures out how to get a collection of highly-paid pretty boys to actually care about playing baseball. And Michigan might roll with their crazy-ninja offense and figure out how to play some defense in order to magically win a few Big Ten games and save Rich Rod’s job.
But for now, it’s just sad panda. And if the last 20 years are any indication, it will probably stay like that.