Just as they lost their first Shea home opener in 1964, the Mets likewise fell in defeat in their final Shea home opener. Forty-six years ago it was 4-3 to the Pirates; yesterday it was 5-2 to the rival Phillies. If you're keeping count, that would be nine straight losses to the Phils, each as anguishing as the one that preceded it. The difference between that original Shea team and this one is that the 1964 team had lost 231 games the prior two seasons and wasn't expected to do much better in the franchise's third season*. Nowadays, the Mets are draped in the kind of high expectations that come with a payroll approaching $150 million.
* They didn't do much better, losing 109 games in 1964 after losing 120 and 111 in 1962 and 1963 respectively. They went on to lose another 112 in 1965 before finally breaking the century mark by dropping only 95 games in 1966.
It isn't time to panic yet. Is it time to be concerned, though? Maybe. The Mets certainly have their share of issues, several of which are pointed out by Joel Sherman in his most recent blog post. The Mets are 2-4 through six games, which is as close to 0-6 as it is to 4-2, whatever that means. 2-4 seems really bad because the Mets have dropped three games in a row, but if they managed to win the second game against the Marlins or the Braves (or both!) they would be 3-3 or 4-2 and perhaps we wouldn't be so alarmed. 2-4 looks crappy because the Mets have lost two-thirds of their games, but they aren't going to lose 108 games this year, and a couple of wins in the next few days would certainly assuage our most immediate fears of the team's inexorable doom.
Some things have definitely gone wrong so far, most notably team health, as the Mets have already lost Pedro Martinez, Matt Wise and Luis Castillo to different injuries for varying lengths of time. Add that trio to a list that already included Moises Alou and Orlando Hernandez and the team's medical outlook is understandably bleak. Make no mistake: the Mets are a very old team. Age isn't always a bad thing, though. I'm all about youth and giving the kids a chance to play, but the Red Sox fielded one of the oldest teams in baseball last year and things worked out for them. That's one year and one very good team, but the point is that just because your roster may be long in the tooth doesn't mean that they can't also be long in the win column.
Aside from health, my biggest concern -- at least among those things that weren't already concerns -- is Aaron Heilman, who has been terrific for the past two seasons and is suddenly shaky at best. Willie Randolph has brought Heilman into the last two games in close situations where the Mets were narrowly losing and Heilman was unable to keep those games within reach. His control on Tuesday was particularly discouraging, so let's hope that this is just a blip and not a full-blown kablooie.
Anyway, six games into the season isn't the time to over-dramatize things. Let's just take a few deep breaths, try to relax, and hope the Mets go out there tonight and not suck so badly, mmmkay? It may not be time to panic, but if the Mets lose the next two games I might just throw myself off a bridge.