Hope for the 2009 New York Mets seemed to last about as long as a Brett Favre retirement, as injuries, poor management and plain old bad luck derailed a once promising season.
For Mets fans, this transition from playoff contender to a major league irrelevance was about as painful as an episode of "The T.O. Show" - with just as much drama.
The downward spiral began with key injuries to first baseman Carlos Delgado (bone spur, torn labrum), shortstop Jose Reyes (torn calf muscle) and newly acquired pitcher J.J. Putz (elbow).
The injury bug spread and ballooned to over 10 players, including outfielder Carlos Beltran (bone bruise in right knee), pitchers John Maine (right shoulder fatigue) and Johan Santana (bone chips in left elbow), shortstop Alex Cora (ligament injuries in both thumbs) and all-star third baseman David Wright, who recently came off the disabled list prior to being hit in the head with a Matt Cain fastball.
Rookies Jonathon Niese and Fernando Martinez also suffered season-ending injuries, adding to a disabled list that looks more like an All-Star team than a normal roster.
Injuries, although devastating, aren't the only reason 2009 has been downright painful in Flushing, though. Sloppy play and poor managerial decisions have plagued the team and left all Mets fans shaking their heads.
As of this weekend the Mets are eighth in the league with 84 errors; a full 24 errors more than the rival Phillies, who are the best defensive team in baseball.
General manager Omar Minaya has also caused problems for the organization. In what should have been a routine press conference, Minaya accused New York Daily News beat writer Adam Rubin of ulterior motives when reporting the firing of team official Tony Bernazard.
His signing of inconsistent lefty Oliver Perez to a three year, $36 million contract this past offseason is another inexplicable decision that has led many Mets fans to call for his firing. The contract appears to be about three years and $36 million too much, given that Perez's ERA this season is 6.82.
June 12, 2009, however, was one of the most gut-wrenching moments in recent Mets history. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Mets were beating none other than the New York Yankees. To all who watched, it seemed certain that ace reliever Francisco Rodriguez would convert his 17th straight save opportunity.
With Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira on base, K-Rod got Alex Rodriguez to hit a lazy fly ball into shallow right field and the rest is history. Second baseman Luis Castillo went out for the ball stumbling like a little leaguer, then seemingly recovered before somehow dropping the ball, allowing both the tying and winning runs to score.
It is an indescribable feeling to be a fan and see that happen - it's like having your heart ripped out of your chest. It's no wonder why Mets fans these days seem more and more heartless.
Every day more fans are demanding the firing of Omar Minaya, Jerry Manuel and anyone else responsible for this lost season. Can you blame them? The laundry list of forgettable moments and lack of "SportsCenter Top 10" appearances would have anyone screaming for change.
What seems to make matters worse is the fact that while the Mets have been doing their best Bad News Bears impression, the Yankees and Phillies have been doing extremely well. Okay, great. The Yankees lead the major leagues in home runs, with the Phillies a close third and the struggling Mets rounding out the bottom of the barrel in dead last. That's right, even the Washington Nationals have more home runs then the New York Mess.
Perhaps the baseball gods will cut us some slack and allow Shane Victorino to get more beer poured on his head. A sincere "thank you" goes out to that 21-year-old Cubs fan for making this season kind of worth it.
For now, the only good news for die-hard Mets fans seems to be fact that the 2009 season is almost over. No more dropped fly balls, Oliver Perez home runs or players forgetting to step on third base - hallelujah.