The New York Mets have fallen asleep, dead asleep. They wake up for a few minutes at the end of each game to remind us that it's a long season, plenty of baseball left, relax, don't worry. The next time we see them they're back on the ballfield, snoring.
Shea Stadium -- where the Mets play the Pirates today -- hasn't been this quiet, this tame, in about a decade. This is the worst part of it: The fans are being put to sleep, too.
The notion that the Mets have lots of time to straighten themselves out is probably accurate, and downright foolish. If they think the calendar is on their side, they're mistaken. If they think the rest of the division still considers them the team to beat, they better think again. This season is getting away from the best team that money could buy.
The won-lost record says they're mediocre.
The recent road trip was one long, losing yawn.
Their performances the last month suggest that the names on the back of the uniform shirt be replaced by a tag on the big toe.
The next two weeks, 14 home games against the Eastern Division, gives them a wonderful opportunity to imitate a team interested in winning.
"We didn't play good baseball on this road trip," David Cone said the other night in Montreal, after stinking it up for most of four innings. He looked back at the trip and decided, "We didn't pitch that well, our defense wasn't that great and we didn't have a sustained sort of offensive attack." And now the good news. According to Cone, "It's too early to be alarmed."
No, it isn't. It's only too early to start admitting out loud that it's too early to get alarmed. What Cone meant, but would never tell the snakes in the media was, "It's a terrific time to get alarmed. We look like the 1927 Yankees out there, 90 years old and ready to die."
None of this should be happening. The Mets front office spent most of the winter hitting the right cash register keys (Bobby Bonilla, Eddie Murray, Willie Randolph). They swapped Grumpy (Kevin MacReynolds) and The Crybaby (Gregg Jefferies) for The Pitcher Who Most Resembles Cy Young (Bret Saberhagen). When Kevin Elster couldn't reach first base, they rushed in another millionaire, Dick Schofield.
The new manager is a communicator. And we're told that's just what the players needed.