The playoffs are about to start and, as per usual, my Mets are on the outside, looking in. Oliver Perez pitched for only the 4th time since late July and got the loss because of a bases-loaded walk in the top of the 14th inning. So, even though games will continue to be played for the next few weeks, it is indeed the off-season for the Mets and their fans.

Of course, I’ll watch the playoffs and the World Series (Go Rays!!), but I still wish the Mets had been competitive. Football’s fine, but the Jets only play once a week, so it really can’t fill the void. Hockey’s OK too, but it doesn’t touch my heart and my soul the way baseball does. As for basketball, well, don’t get me started on what a stupid sport that is.

To state the obvious, the Mets have a lot of things to work on.  They have a lot of money invested in a handful of players (Bay, Beltran, Santana, Rodriguez, Reyes and Wright) and it’s likely that neither Minaya nor Manuel will be holding their current jobs next year.  So someone’s got to upgrade the team while working within a budget (thank you, Bernie Madoff).  Personally, I think they need to get rid of Beltran.  I’ve heard rumors that the Red Sox might be interested, but only if the Mets pick up some of the money.  Fine.  Do it.  Get decent players now rather than take a chance on draft picks.  I hope they can quietly get rid of Frankie Rodriguez and that the thugs at the union don’t make too much trouble.  The chances of this happening are slim, but a girl can dream, right?  Oliver Perez is a disaster.  He’s a selfish punk who won’t do what’s in the best interests of the team.  Despite what some people are saying, the team should never consider getting rid of David Wright or Jose Reyes. These guys aren’t the problem.  Beltran, Rodriguez and Perez, however, are.

Keep Pagan.  Keep Ike Davis.  Keep Josh Thole.  Cut Jason Bay some slack (after all, how many big-name players have had culture shock during their first year in NY?  Does the name Mike Piazza ring a bell?).  These guys are part of the new core.  They play hard and they care. I haven’t seen enough yet of Ruben Tejada or Jesus Feliciano to be able to make a judgment about these guys, but I’m certainly willing to see more.  Re-sign R.A. Dickey.  Now.  Do what you can to bring back Rick Peterson (he was right about Kazmir, BTW).   There’s a lot to do, and they need a new GM to do it.

I normally can’t abide Mike Lupica (I think he’s a pompous arse who thinks way too highly of himself), but his column today is spot on:

The hiring of a general manager to replace Omar Minaya will be the most important front-office hire the Mets have made since Frank Cashen.

Start there, not with whom the next manager will be.

This doesn’t mean Omar Minaya has been a total failure. He hasn’t. He had the team one game and two runs away from the World Series four years ago. That was four years ago. He has had his chance to get the Mets back there. The idea that he hasn’t had enough of a chance is just noise. As if this is everybody’s fault except Omar’s.

…There isn’t a Mets fan alive who believes that next season can be better at Citi Field with Minaya and Manuel in their current jobs. They were promised the season. They got the season. The season went bad. When that happens, at the end of a bad four years that starts to feel like a bad presidential administration, people lose their jobs. Minaya and Manuel are about to lose theirs.

The next manager matters, a hundred percent. If you don’t think managers matter, look at what Buck Showalter has done with the Orioles since he got the job in Baltimore. Picking the right general manager matters more, the way it mattered with Frank Cashen.

If you are going to change the culture, you start there.

Here is a video thanking Mets fans for their support in 2010.  Of course it’s all scripted, but R. A. Dickey seemed to speak from the heart. Have I said lately how much I heart him?

Here are some great quotes that reflect my sentiments about baseball. There are plenty more out there, but these are  my favorites.

Al Gallagher:

There are three things in my life which I really love:  God, my family, and baseball.  The only problem – once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit.

Rogers Hornsby:

People ask me what I do in the winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.

Art Hill:

With those who don’t give a damn about baseball, I can only sympathize. I do not resent them. I am even willing to concede that many of them are physically clean, good to their mothers and in favor of world peace. But while the game is on, I can’t think of anything to say to them.

Anonymous:

Baseball is life. The rest is just details

And, last but not least, here’s a cartoon by David Sipress that I found in (I think) the Wall Street Journal.  It’s now on my refrigerator door:

Every year, just when I start to think life is totally meaningless, baseball starts again.

According to my calculations, there are only 135 days until pitchers and catchers (this assumes that pitchers and catchers report on February 15).  Until then, I’ll just be biding my time, hoping that the Jets and the Islanders can make the off-season interesting.  The Jets are off to a fine start, but one never knows with the Islanders.  As I said before, a girl can dream.

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