Buster Olney is right, the Mets' problems are not solely the manager's responsibility -- GM Omar Minaya failed to shore up the team's relief staff this year. But ultimately, the Mess had more talent than any team in the NL and just completed the second-worst bonk in baseball history -- blowing a seven-game lead with 17 games to go, and failing to even tie for the wild card. All told, the 1964 Phillies' failure of losing the NL pennant despite holding a 6.5 game lead with 12 to play, is worse. Those Phils immediately lost 10 straight, their place in the standings and the pennant. The Mets' death was slower and more excruciating -- 12 losses in their last 17 games, six in the last seven. Worse yet, 10 of the 17 games were at the filled-in cesspool known as Shea Stadium, and the Mess lost NINE of those. Worse yet, after the Mess bonked against the Phils in Shea from September 14-16, they lost 9 of their remaining 14 games, all of which were against teams with losing records. The 1964 Phils choked horribly, but the teams they lost to were immediate rivals for the pennant (Reds, Cards, Braves). Indeed, based on available playoff spots (the Mess missed the wild card too), largest lead, remaining schedule at that point, the baseball geeks at Baseball Prospectus said last Thursday that if the Mess missed the playoffs, it would be the second-biggest choke job of all time. That scenario occurred.
Give Manny Acta and the Washington Nationals credit -- their talent level indicated that they could be the worst team in baseball history; instead, they won 73 and used five wins in six games against the Mess over the final two weeks to climb out of the NL East basement. They also bumped the Phils off yesterday, enabling the Mess to tie the race and setting up a potential one-game playoff if the Mess and Phils both won or lost today (and it would have been a complete free-for-all if the Mess had won because four teams would have had 89-73 records). About 30 minutes into the Mets' finale, that notion was over as the Marlins scored 7 runs in the first inning off future Hall-of-Famer Tom Glavine (he won't retire on that note).
Talent, leadership, failure. The disconnect between the first two led to the third -- the Mess had talent, they lacked leadership, they achieved failure. Regardless of fault levels, Willie Randolph won't keep his job after this; or at least, he shouldn't.