Team meeting not a repeat of last year

Team meeting not a repeat of 2007

WASHINGTON -- This is not last year, the Mets' general manager said late Tuesday afternoon. Omar Minaya said it was inappropriate to draw any parallel between what the Mets endured last September and what they are experiencing 12 months later. Then, he said, the Mets were "just about putting it away" and closing out the rest of the National League East.

What the Mets are involved in now is different, Minaya said.

"To me, they don't even correlate," he said. "Two different worlds. This is a pennant race."

Stark differences didn't appear to be in abundance, however. Moreover, one striking similarity developed Tuesday.

Minaya spoke some 30 minutes after Jerry Manuel had met with his players to remind them how well they had played to put themselves in first place. The meeting was staged some 2 1/2 hours before the start of the Mets' second game of their final visit to Washington. It followed a poor performance the previous night and an unproductive weekend at Shea Stadium.

That meeting happened nearly a year to the day after one called by the players that preceded the Mets' second game in their final visit to Washington, following a poor performance the previous night and an unproductive weekend at Shea Stadium.

And any similarity between the events of then and now is purely coincidental.

Well, of course it is. A year ago, the Mets had seen their lead in the NL East reduced -- from seven games on Sept. 12 to 2 1/2 games before the players called a meeting Sept. 18. This year, the Mets' lead has been reduced from 3 1/2 games Sept. 10 to a half-game before Manuel said his piece.

"The more things change, the more they remain the same" seems to fit here.

The manager determined a meeting was advisable after watching his team lose, 7-2, Monday night to remind his players "where we are and what we need to do to get back in the right direction."

The loss was the Mets' third in four games.

Manuel addressed them, though he acknowledged the meeting "probably will do more good for me." Manuel wanted his players to know "who I am and how I feel."

At this time of year -- 13 games remained in the Mets' season Tuesday night before Mike Pelfrey opposed Odalis Perez -- Manuel said, "You do as much as you can to steer the individual."

He said it was necessary to remind his players of what was at stake for the team, rather than for the individuals.

Although the end result was an overall poor performance Monday night, the Mets hadn't executed that poorly. There was precious little they could have done offensively, because they had so few baserunners -- four through the first seven innings. And their defense was as it has been through most of their rush to first place, quite acceptable.

But they didn't pitch effectively. And their offense was woeful.

Manuel wanted his players to play well again. "We might not win," he said he would tell them, "but expect to play a good game."

Manuel was slick enough to schedule his address for a night preceding a start by Pelfrey. The Mets had won 14 of Pelfrey's 18 most recent starts before Tuesday. So the manager was interested in winning, too.

Marty Noble is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.