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Same approach, different expectations highlighting Mets insanity throughout August nosedive | Op-ed

Mets Jeff McNeil
The Mets' staggering drop in the standings has featured just five wins in 20 games.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Most of you are familiar with Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. 

If that isn’t the perfect way of labeling almost everything under the New York Mets umbrella, then I’m not really sure what is. 

The organization’s free fall from first place in the National League East at the beginning of the month has been mythic — for all the wrong reasons. 

Before Sunday’s series finale with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Mets were 5-15 in August while falling 11 games in the standings in 21 days. Simply an astounding nosedive from top of a mediocre NL East to third place and seven games out.

That seven-game deficit was also identical in the National League Wild Card standings, as the Mets’ best chance of making the playoffs was to win a division that has been amongst the largest disappointments in baseball this year.

Mediocre play — at best — showed its true face as inept baseball during a gauntlet of a Mets schedule that features 13-straight games against the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants; two of MLB’s very best this season.

Through their first nine, the Mets went 1-8; saddled with an offense that makes it seem as though they’re trying not to score, which of course isn’t the actual case.

But this is where Einstein’s definition of insanity starts to enter the fray.

While they’ve been one of the worst teams this season when it comes to driving in runners in scoring position (RISP), the Mets have been especially bad during their Dodgers/Giants onslaught.

Over their last nine games, the Mets are batting 9-72 with RISP. That’s a minuscule .125 average.

All the while, the team’s approach doesn’t appear to be changing in the slightest, with a perfect example coming in the fifth inning of Saturday’s 4-3 loss to the Dodgers when J.D. Davis struck out with the bases loaded.

At the time, it was a 3-1 game, and Davis — who has just seven RBI in 38 plate appearances with RISP this season — took a gargantuan hack on a 2-2 Max Scherzer fastball right down the heart of the plate and whiffed. 

It wasn’t the first time Davis, or the Mets, have done that this season — opting to stick to their guns of hoping their big bats can come through in a big way rather than tweaking their approach, shortening up their swings, and just trying to get the ball in play.

The non-changing approach is maddening, even to the point where owner Steve Cohen had to take to Twitter to wonder about his team’s incompetence with the abyss that is social media: “It’s hard to understand how professional hitters can be this unproductive.”

But a team that is now hanging onto postseason hopes by a thread is rolling out a best-on-paper lineup with no depth prompted by injuries that have ransacked its ranks. It certainly has not done any favors for manager Luis Rojas, who will be on the hot seat for the Mets’ collapse. But an inability to get anything out of a lineup all season comprised on a roster that is woefully underperforming in all aspects indicates that dramatic changes have to be made to ensure the Mets meet their expectations. 

For now, though, the Mets seem content in trying to do the same thing day in and day out with the same exact results prevailing.

Insane.

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