No Word of Collapse

building_collapse_small.jpgIt was a monumental collapse … Jerry Manuel might have termed it a “catastrophic demise”.

Because a first-place baseball team blew a 7-and-ONE-HALF-GAME-LEAD in 26 days (I’m not counting the All-Star Break) to relinquish their lead of the NL East.

We’re talking here about the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies, who seemed poised to run away with the division less than a month ago.

OK, it wasn’t quite as devastating as the 7-game lead that the Mets dwindled away in the final 17 days of 2007, but it’s awfully close. Yet, no outlandish headlines from the Philadelphia tabloids. No calling for the manager’s head. Not one pundit across America called it a “collapse”.

I guess Philly does a better job of burying bad news.

The excitement of the Mets 10-game winning streak averted my attention from the Phillies’ collapse. However, now that the collapse has dawned on me, and seeing that it was a larger gap (7 1/2 games, rather than 7), I find it immensely gratifying to continue referring to “it” as a “collapse”.

Say it with me, folks:

“Collapse collapse collapse collapse collapse collapse! The Phillies floundered first in a monumental collapase!”

Now doesn’t that feel better? Can we now finally get over that “other thing” that happened to the Mets last September?

I know I know, the Mets have already slid back into second place, one day after sharing the lead. But you know what? Maybe the Phillies would have done the same, if only it were a 163- or 164-game season last year.

Vince Lombardi once said that his Packers “never lost a football game — they just ran out of time”. Likewise, perhaps the Mets didn’t lose the NL East in 2007 — rather, they simply ran out of time.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. isuzudude July 19, 2008 at 7:37 pm
    A Met fan wrote somewhere that what the Mets did last year was a collapse – they lost and lost and lost, and all the Phillies had to do was play .500 baseball to sneak their way into the playoffs. But this year, erasing their 7.5 game deficit, the Mets won 10 in a row, which is more like a comeback. So, whereas last year the Phillies did nothing impressive to capitolize on the collapse, this year the Mets became the true beasts of the east and accomplished something to get back into the race. Comeback or collapse? It may be a matter of semantics, but I think the Mets did a far more gratifying thing to get back into the race this year than what the Phillies did to win the division last year.

    Of course, you gotta give the Phils credit for winning a million in a row against the Mets last year, which helped them more than anything, and for capitolizing on the collapse in a time of the season when so much more is riding on the line. But still, you’re right Joe, the “collapse” of 2007 will live in infamy, while no one seems to be noticing the great comeback of 2008. Thanks for bringing to our attention.

  2. Cliffy44 July 20, 2008 at 2:53 am
    What I can NOT understand, if my life depended on it is why the “F” would any past, present or future Mets manager ever even give as much as 1/1000th of 1% of a potential thought of putting Aaron Heilman in the game.

    He is the single most reason that the Mets haven’t won games that they were ahead in, in the 7th & 8th innings.

    I consider him to be the current day Bill Buckner.

    The Mets should get rid of Heilman; before they get to this year’s World Series.

    Aaron Heilman – IF you read this, do us all a favor, andf just quit.

    You are horrendous.

  3. isuzudude July 20, 2008 at 7:48 am
    So, Cliffy, Aaron’s .197 opponents batting average vs righties, 0.64 ERA in June, and 3 previous seasons as a premier setup man were all a fluke?
  4. EastFallowfield July 20, 2008 at 7:58 am
    Talk about Met-centric.

    “Far more gratifying” for the Mets to catch the Phils in mid-July than for the Phils to win the division?

    Ok, sure. I’m guessing most baseball fans would trade a division title for a first place tie in mid-season, but they don’t know baseball like Mets fans do.

    There’s no talk of collapse because it’s all about the Mets. If the Mets collapse, it’s their fault, if the Phils collapse, it’s to the Mets’ credit. Plain and simple.

    And if took the Mets 9 more days to do it, how is that better?

    The Phils won 13 of the last 17 games last year. That’s. quote, nothing impressive, unquote.

    The Mets, in their 17 games leading up to the amazingly great spectacular tie for first place, won 13 of 17.

    That’s much more impressive, you see, because it happened with 10 of them in a row! Plus we like the Mets!

    The 2007 Mets ran out of time? You wanted to watch them lose more games to the Marlins and Nats?

  5. Cliffy44 July 20, 2008 at 9:08 am
    Isuzudude,

    That was then; and this is now.

    The great Tom Seaver got out before he declined. So do most of the pitchers remembered as super stars.

    Heilman will NEVER EVER be remembered as a super star.

    He’s the worst percentile player on the team right now.

    Years ago, when I was in High School, I played baseball. If I may paraphrase from the opening line this reply:
    “That Was Then; And This Is Now”. I couldn’t do what I did in the past, either.

    Heilman should be released. I could see Willy Randolf playing him as often as he did. That’s a good part of the reason that he’s gone.

    Jerry Manual should know better.

  6. isuzudude July 20, 2008 at 10:17 am
    I respectfully disagree
  7. joe July 20, 2008 at 10:19 am
    EastFallow, you’re probably right … they probably would have lost even more games at the end of the year. I’m trying to find anything to erase the “collapse” … it still beckons in my mind.

    As for Heilman, I don’t know that he’s horrendous — just not reliable in his role. I believe his days as a reliever are over, and that he has a mental thing now which precludes him from ever again being a setup man. That said, he still has enough talent to help, but I’d rather see him go back to starting rather than be used as a mop-up guy for the rest of his career. If I were manager, I’d continue to use Heilman earlier in games, never bring him in with runners on base, and at the end of the season tell him to go to winter ball as a starter. The Mets will need one next year.