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Harper: the Mets' biggest problem isn't talent. It's a "lack of toughness"

Oct 6, 2010, 11:59 AM EDT

What was the problem with the Mets this year?  The rotation? The pen? The injuries? Nah, according to John Harper of the Daily News it was all about character. Or the lack thereof:

Let’s start with toughness, the one intangible the Mets have lacked most in recent years . . . Not that retaliating or even fighting is a cure-all for the Mets.
Talent aside, however, winning in the big leagues starts with attitude,
with the type of mental and physical toughness that has defined the
Phillies and separated them from the Mets.

And writing for the New York tabloids starts with believing — with a religious fervor — that an unsuccessful baseball team lacks character and a successful one has it in spades.

“Talent aside?”  Talent is almost everything, dude. Then comes health, then comes good fortune. To the extent “toughness” isn’t some post-facto concept writers see when they want to see it and ignore when it suits their purposes, it’s rounding error on the final 1% of the equation.

But I guess you can’t dwell on that when you write in a media environment that demands that everything be explained by reference to heroes and villains, clutch performers and chokers, men and wusses and the like.

  1. Glenn - Oct 6, 2010 at 12:07 PM


  2. EShine - Oct 6, 2010 at 12:16 PM

    While I agree with talent/injuries/luck, attitude does have something to do with it. When that team choked away division leads, they had the talent. A healthy Billy Wagner would have been nice, but surely someone could have stepped up for one game and salvaged their season. Someone. Anyone!! They didn’t. They laid down hoping they would sneak in rather than getting after it and making sure they won the division. Attitude surely isnt everything, but it comes into play when teams are under pressure.

  3. Simon DelMonte - Oct 6, 2010 at 12:21 PM

    What is he referring to? The times that Francouer and Cora played through injuries night after night? Reyes and Beltran rushing to get back to the lineup? Santana pitching hurt? RA Dickey never giving up after years of frustration and finally doing hitting the big time?
    Or maybe he means being a tough guy. The sort with so much swagger other teams and players hate him. I think that would be K-Wrong.
    You could ask serious questions about why a team that did reasonably well at home was so awful on the road. Or why established hitters failed in the clutch. But I look at these Mets, and see a team with plenty of players (or ex-players) who were tough. If often talentless.

  4. Aarcraft - Oct 6, 2010 at 12:34 PM

    Logic aside, that was a very solid argument John Harper made.

  5. Johnnyb10 - Oct 6, 2010 at 12:43 PM

    Craig – It seems to me that you just scan all the NY papers every day looking for reasons to rip the NY media. Haper, Sherman & Bill Madden the other day. What do you have against interesting reading? I know you need to make X number of posts every day, but you don’t even try to hide your bias against NY. Check out what Dan Shaughnessy says about the Red Sox sometimes, or one of the Phillies writers – like there any better. Who will be your next target – Bill Gallo?

  6. Craig Calcaterra - Oct 6, 2010 at 12:50 PM

    There’s nothing wrong with interesting reading. I draw the line at dumb reading.
    And believe me, I’ve picked on non-New York guys plenty.

  7. Jonny5 - Oct 6, 2010 at 12:50 PM

    Talent aside? So we don’t need to compare every single position player on both teams and rate them? Cool, because Philly has a pretty decent advantage there right now. And the talent in the skipper slot? throw that out too? Wow, that’s good because Philly is one more up on the Mets again. Although clearly not as powerful of a team, we will now blame mental toughness because we’ll ignore those insignificant facts right now….. He is right in a way. The Mets as a team had a mental problem. Some of the disrespect I saw towards the skipper said it all. And why are the Mets better when Beltran is on the DL????

  8. Mike d - Oct 6, 2010 at 1:05 PM

    Gotta disagree with you,anyone who has watched these two teams play head to head the last 4 seasons has clearly seen a difference in character between them . If the phils get a lead the mets usually roll over and if they’re behind they are waiting for the Phils to explode.

  9. Buccofan - Oct 6, 2010 at 1:14 PM

    In the alternate universe in which the writers live, if you win, you have “character”, “toughness”, and that NY favorite, “intangibles”; if you lose, you don’t. Never mind that it should be the other way around. Classic 20/20 hindsight, Monday morning quarterbacking, or the cliche of your choice.

  10. bigshotrob - Oct 6, 2010 at 1:16 PM

    haven’t we heard this before? I remember a story earlier this year that the Mets were not as mentally tough as the phillies. Did i read on that on here or am I misremembering?

  11. Adenzeno - Oct 6, 2010 at 1:47 PM

    Didnt the Mets sweep Phil this year in NY? just bringing it up

  12. Kevin from Philly - Oct 6, 2010 at 3:08 PM

    Are some of the posters actually sticking up for the Mets? The team that gagged two years in a row and followed that up by just quiting after the All-Star break this season? How can you guys root for a team like that?

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