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One thing that has not existed with this Mets team is disappointment.

Rarely do you come away from the game saying, "Boy, they were really disappointing tonight."

And yet the Mets' effort today marked the third straight game displaying a lack of effort. It seemed as though winning wasn't as important to them as it was to me.

Jose Reyes wasn't getting to balls he normally handles and Cliff Floyd hardly made up for his expensive bases-loaded bobble with a laser-beam throw to second base. And Glavine made that bad throw, a little reminiscent of that start against Pittsburgh, where his failure to pick up a bunt nearly cost the slumping Mets another game.

Bad defense has been a hallmark of Mets' teams since the Greatest Defensive Infield Ever of 1999 broke up. Kaz Matsui comes to mind as a joke of a fielder. But his weak fielding never looked like a lack of effort or even a lack of focus.

Boy, these kids, though. They played their hearts out for two innings today, and figured that would be enough to beat a woeful team like the Cubs. Even with an ace like Carlos Zambrano on the hill, the Mets should be shredding the Cubs and making a cereal called "Shredded Mini-Cubs! Now with Phil Nevin!"

Glavine looked awful on the hill, allowing homers and walking batters, things hardly conducive to winning. Glavine seemed to be unable to land that big out, especially against Henry Blanco, a player who's cost his teams 19 runs in his career at the plate instead of a replacement player. But fellow Cub Neifi Perez makes Blanco look like Babe Ruth, as he's cost his teams 57 runs at the dish over a replacement player in his career.

Somehow, though, Phil Nevin and Aramis Ramirez, the new-age Bash Brothers, combined to squash the Metsies at Shea. Ryan Dumpster gave his best shot at putting the Comeback Kids right back into the game but was finally thwarted by player-coach Julio Franco, who's been hitting like a coach lately. I'd rather Willie or Manny Acta pinch-hit than he.

The Duck gave it his best quack aginst Bob (or is it Bobby) Howry, but came up just short on some freaky back-up slider that moved hard in the wrong direction.

I wish it was a time where one could say, "Ah, screw it, let's get 'em next time." Unfortunately, that's been the tune we've all been singing since the Mets stunk it up against Houston on Sunday. At this point, a more rational approach to take is to call this a Dog Days swoon and look at the standings. No one really wants to challenge the Mets, so the lead is safe for now.

A few quick hits:

-ENDY! Endy Chavez, the former Met farmhand, has been absolutely dynamite since beating out Tike Redman and Victor Diaz to become the Mets' fourth outfielder. As much as I criticize the Yankee great Randolph, it seems as though he really has the capability to make talented but enigmatic players work for him. Chavez is no exception and has been an amazing pickup.

-What the boys in da booth were saying about the bench is absolutely correct. Without Valentin (and occasionally Chavez) as pinch-hitters, the Mets lack any lefty capability off the bench. Not to mention that Eli Marrero, Julio Franco and Chris Woodward pose no threat to anyone's starting job with the way they've been hitting. Find a way to get a lefty version of either Marrero or Woodward who can hit. And yes, that last qualifier rules out AAA options Michael Sucker, Jose Awfulman and Anderson "I Couldn't Hit Like Keith/Hell, I can't even hit like Livan" Hernandez.

-Are you thinking Omar's gonna make a deal? Me too.

-Brad Chadford (also ESPN's NBA insider) went and proved today once again why inherited runners scored/stranded is a stat that lacks meaning for the most part and is not a matter of consistency.

-Boy, Willie used Heath Bell one game too early. If he's a mop-up guy who's not as good as Darren Oliver, he can't be used in high-leverage situations. I mentioned it earlier in a false alarm column after Duaner Sanchez's injury, but the time is now: Bring the Ring.

-Due to other obligations, I won't be able to watch tomorrow's game live. I do, however, have two TiVos armed and ready. If I'm not too tired to post, expect something well after the game's likely 3:45 end time.

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