Transport Dante from the Middle Ages and he would have abundant epic poem material with the Mets' nine circles of baseball hell. One for each position.
Once again, like a half-century ago, the Mets have turned the nickname Amazin's to satire. Their downward spiral -- into an inferno of small crowds, spotty pitching, unproductive hitting and a nebulous future -- has created an echo chamber of frustration.
"Everybody, whether you're a fan, player, owner, front office, coach, you're frustrated with the way we're playing right now,'' team captain David Wright said. "That's an understatement. But the only way to change that is to keep plugging and change the results. You don't get out of this kind of frustration we're in right now by doing anything but winning.''
Entering Sunday night's game against the Braves, the Mets had lost five in a row and 12 of 15, eight straight at home. They were hitting a wimpy .227. Their pitchers, even with young luminary Matt Harvey in the rotation, were burdened with a combined 4.54 ERA.
The mood in the clubhouse is not so good. "Everybody's upset with the way they're playing,'' manager Terry Collins said. "We got guys that aren't hitting, that aren't pitching good.
"I don't sense negativity. I sense frustration. They know they've got to get better, they've got to work at it. But it's hard. It's not easy to play, especially at this level. One of the things that makes them great players is their pride, and right now that's been damaged a little bit. And that makes them angry.''
Collins has been almost paternal in relating to his players. They are "big boys'' who must perform in a bottom-line business "or somebody else will,'' he said. Yet "they're human,'' and Collins' answer to queries about "when am I going to start yelling'' is "Who am I going to yell at? Who's not giving me any effort? That's not the issue.''
Ike Davis has been their failure personified. Hitting .148. Hearing boos and talk of demotion to the minors. Having his usually stellar fielding escape him with a game on the line.
"Pray for him,'' Daniel Murphy said before Davis' two-run single gave the Mets a 4-2 lead in the eighth Sunday night. "He's a pro. Ike is always so willing to ask for help, at his locker every day. That's a pro right there. That's a man. There's not a guy on this Earth I'd rather go to battle with than Ike Davis.''
General manager Sandy Alderson continues to "look at what [Davis] was able to do last year, getting through this kind of situation'' and eventually hitting 32 home runs. "The goal is to get Ike back to the player we know he can be. The biggest pro is that he was able to turn it around last year. The biggest con is that we don't have the luxury of no production out of that spot because we're not getting production out of a lot of spots.''
There has been no deadline set for a Davis decision, Alderson said. "Things can change from day to day. This is not a science.'' Wright spoke of the "long-term focus'' and "the guys we have in the high minor-league system'' bringing future hope.
Meanwhile, four days ago, a publicist for The Amazing Kreskin, the 78-year-old mentalist who once performed psychic feats on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show,'' announced the dispatching of a letter to Davis offering for Kreskin to "spend a few hours'' with the first baseman to improve his batting average.
Kreskin, the letter said, is a Mets fan. Frustrated, obviously.
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