There was little good, a lot bad and a healthy share of ugly in the Phillies 10-6 loss to the Mets on Wednesday night, a defeat that finished off a three-game sweep by their northern-most NL East neighbors.
While there was certainly a lot of ugly to choose from - Shane Victorino's ill-timed diving attempt in center, Jose Contreras' latest shaky outing, any pitch thrown by Kyle Kendrick - but the most telling moment came in the eighth inning, after the Phils had already blown a 4-2 lead. With one out and runners on second and third, Hunter Pence dropped a ball that most Little Leaguers catch.
What followed: a decent amount of the 43,840 fans at Citizens Bank Park - the second smallest crowd since the current 217-game sell-out streak began in 2009 - decided Pence's error was too much. They headed directly for the exits.
After it was over, the Phillies (14-18) were four games under .500 for the first time in exactly five years. (They were 15-19 on May 9, 2007). And Charlie Manuel, like the fans, decided he had seen too much ugly baseball.
So he called for a team meeting.
Here is a collection of what the principle figures in the game - and within the team at large - said Wednesday night.
on calling a team meeting: “After I watched that game, I
felt it was necessary,” Manuel said. “I think watching the game tonight, the
upset part got me. And usually I stay pretty cool. But tonight, the way we
played, what developed, I felt like it was time for me to say something to our
on what's wrong: "I think they’re trying too hard in the game. Things like
that. We can do things to get better in the game, as far as preparation,
practicing, doing things right. We can get back to playing the game the way it
should be played. If we can.
on whether the problem is preparation or execution: "The whole thing, the whole environment of how we’ve been
doing. I’ve been sitting here watching for 31 games – how we’ve gone about
things. How we get ready for the game, how we play. … We’ve got to get better,
the whole game, we’ve got to execute better and we’ve got to pitch better and
definitely hit better."
on Charlie calling a meeting: "We haven’t been playing well, there’s no doubt about it. Basically, we screwed the game up as many ways as we possibly could, every way you can. I feel like we were due for something like that. Something needs to change. We need someone to shake it up and get us on back on track to being the team we know can be.”
on whether it's disappointing it had to come to that, given the talent/expectations on the team: "It's still early. But we can't put ourself in too big of a hole. Something has got to change. All you can do is try harder, prepare harder, work harder and be as focused as you can."
on dropping an easy fly ball in the eighth inning, which preceded a three-run home run: "It’s awful. I’m trying too hard, thinking too much, pressing. There’s no excuse for it. It’s awful. It’s unacceptable. I understand everyone’s frustration."
on the reaction it generated, boos and sarcastic cheers when he caught the next ball: "I’d boo myself too. I’m probably madder than they are that I dropped the ball. I understand. It’s awful. It’s not like I’m going to sleep easy or be OK with it. It’s the worst feeling to let the pitcher down and the team down, but I’m not here to feel sorry for myself. I’m going to just take it and use it as fuel to play better, to get better."
on Charlie calling a meeting: "Charlie is an unbelievable manager and everything he said is right. It’s not acceptable to play the way we’re playing and the way I’m playing. We’ve all got to look ourselves in the mirror. We’ve all got to figure something out."
on whether Manuel's message was received: "Any time you manager talks, you listen. His message was definitely clear. If we go out there and execute and play ball the way we're supposed to, things will start working out. We just haven't been doing that a lot this year. A few times, but not enough."
on whether there's a need for more focus and intensity within the team: "There's definitely not a lack of focus. The thing is, in sports, you train yourself and your body knows what to do. But when you go, your brain gets in the way and you start thinking about what needs to be done and how you're going to do it. And you confuse yourself. With that being said, you tend to have lapses of concentration. But it's not because of a lack of focus. It's because you're trying too hard. You run out of ideas. Next thing you know, you're in a big hole trying to dig yourself out."
on whether there is a this-just-isn't-our-year vibe: "It's too early for that. It happened before in 2007 and it ended up being a very good year for us and put us where we are now. You get 100 games into it and you find yourself way back, then you say this isn't the year. Until then... I don't know how many games we're back, we've made up more."
on his rough relief appearance (five runs on four hits, two walks and a hit batter in one inning): "I just didn’t have any command. I didn’t get off the mound since my last start and that’s my fault. I’ve got to get off the mound and throw a side. I should have thrown my regular side. In this role, you have to get off the mound. That’s my fault — I’ve got to prepare better. I feell behind in the count. Everything was up after that. It wasn’t good."
on whether Charlie calling for a meeting hit him harder because of his role in the game: "Yeah, this is not a one-man team. I got the loss I blew the game, so partly, I think he was talking to myself. So I’ll take that. I gave up the runs that ended up losing the game, so that’s me all the way."