While Sam Frank has offered his congratulations on CSTB receiving recognition from The Paper Of Record, I can’t say I wasn’t tempted to register the domain billywagnerbeatentodeathbyangrymob.org late last night. With last night’s 9-6 defeat to the lowly Nats (who’ve managed to take 5 of 6 from the Mets in September), Willie Randolph’s sinking ship has no remaining margin for error. It might require nothing less than running the table over the next 4 days to ensure a postseason spot, never mind the division crown, as Philadelphia’s 5-2 defeat of Atlanta closed the gap to its closest since May.

The old line about Casey’s Mets finding new ways to lose every day doesn’t really apply to this September swoon. These Mets generally have two ways of capitulating — either fall far behind early, or watch any combination of relievers let the game slip away.

For all of Mike Geffner’s protests of there being no leaders in the Mets clubhouse besides Paulie Large Nuts, for all of the WFAN howlers last night who insisted that David Wright “is the only one facing the press”, I’ll submit that Carlos Beltran and Moises Alou have made an admirable effort — both playing hurt, mind you — to rouse the club from its slumber. Neither, however, can pitch. At present, the entire bullpen has to be held accountable for their inability to do much besides pour kerosene on a blaze.

Just how large a lead should the offense be expected to mount? 5-0 wasn’t enough on Wednesday, and for the 2nd week in a row, Mets pitching was abused by the weakest hitting team in the National League — to the tune of 32 runs in 3 nights, no less. And with that recent history hanging over their heads, Wilpon Inc. hands the ball to Pedro Martinez tonight against the drunken most recent World Champs, for what arguably is Pedro’s biggest start since Game Seven of the 2003 ALCS. And much like that ill-fated evening, expecting more than 95-100 pitches out of Martinez might be foolish — isn’t there some way Randolph can start Jim Bunning twice between now and Monday?

What else can be said about a team with this much talent, whose fan base has been reduced to rooting for the Braves during the final week of the season. A club with such an immense payroll, desperate enough to throw a pair of rookie pitchers to the wolves on successive nights (and if you were to say, “anything’s better than Dave Williams”, you’d be right, too)? At what point do we have to admit the piss poor baseball the Mets have played over much of the last two months is no longer an aberration, but is in fact, a real reflection of their quality if not their character?