CHAPPAQUIDDICK ISLAND, MA – Ted Kennedy passed away last week and it’s both sad and ironic that the Liberal Lion passed away just when we needed him most. No, not to get some bloated health insurance bill passed but instead to help us through this painful time. The man who delivered some of the great eulogies in history could have been counted on for some inspiring words to make us all feel better. For after two glorious seasons in the sun, there is a great void that greets the traditional month of the pennant race; The Mets are not in it to get their lives sucked dry by the Phillies – AGAIN.

Like Joe D when Marilyn ran off, Oscar before Felix, or Bert without Ernie, us Philadelphians will really miss the annual September Met collapse. They gave us strength in times of trouble; like being down 7 ½ with 17 to play. Wisdom in time of uncertainty and sharing in time of happiness. Yet, they will always be by our side.

I could just hear Ted now on Met Fan Appreciation Day:

“A few hours (months) ago, this campaign came to an end. For all of you (fans) whose cares have been our concern – the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.”

So what is the Mets fate? Is this a one year aberration caused by some strange injuries or did those injuries mask a real problem? In the early part of this century, when the Yankees were still contending for World Series titles and not getting knocked out in the first round or missing the playoffs altogether, the Phils spent a number of seasons telling their fans, “…if these guys stay healthy and play to their capabilities, yadda, yadda, yadda.” Turns out they needed to blow it up and start all over because the “nucleus” was very overrated. It looks like the same thing is happening right now in Queens.

Exhibit A: Third baseman and Number 3 hitter, David Wright. The reality is that Wright is little more than a very good player. He is Scott Rolen (when he was good) without the glove and when you take away his steroids, you see what you have. Please don’t give me the ballpark. In 207 US Taxpayer Field ABs, he has one more HR than Chase Utley and Ryan Howard have in less than 40 ABs. Wright is a nice number six hitter. In fact, so is half the team.

Exhibit B: Johan Santana. A season ago, he was arguably the best pitcher in baseball. Now, as one scout put it, when he stopped throwing his slider in spring training because of elbow soreness, he became hittable. He’s only 30 so there is still time to return to the top, but if the bone chips in the elbow were caused by his violent delivery on his slider and he can’t go back to that, he’s no longer a $20M pitcher.

Exhibit C: Speaking of salary, Fred Wilpon will still need to come up with another $100M to pay the rest of King Johan’s ransom and he is reportedly broke unless he finds a partner. If that’s the case, the Met payroll will be heading down next year faster than their place in the standings this year.

PHINAL ANALYSIS? You’re the underdog… You’re the Mutts!!!

PHINAL THOUGHT: It’s a good thing that the new Eagles back up quarterback is not the GM of the Mutts or many of the players would have ended up with the same fate as our pal Old Yeller.

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