Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Breaking News II: The Sequel

I was going to reply to Rob (and ECA Mike) with merely a Comment, but my sentiments were upgraded to an actual post after I started ranting. Here goes:

For the record, Mike, I am going through the same exact battle I do every year. Last year it was documented that I thought the Mets were a .500 team, but I settled on 83 wins. I listened to Rob's harangue about Pedro and Beltran and how I was sandbagging. I then upped it to 85 and still took grief.


This year I get to hear about Wagner and Delgado and how I am sandbagging again. To focus on the stars is to once again ignore large holes at 2B and RF (expounded upon nicely at ECA). It's also to pretend that the rotation of Pedro/Glavine/Trachsel/Heilman/Zambrano (or whatever it turns out to be) matches up well with Schilling/Beckett/Wells/Clement/Arroyo (or Papelbon or whomever). Yes, Schilling's been hurt, but so has Pedro, to the point where he's forced to wear a special shoe to alleviate his degenerating toe condition, and oh yeah, many think his shoulder is held together by the labrum equivalent of celery strings. I won't let my prognostications for the season plummet because of a horrible what-if scenario, but I will temper my own enthusiasm about the Mets' fortunes.

Meanwhile, it seems the Braves are engaging in the age-old tactic of trying to defer the target on their backs to someone else, damning the Mets to the hell of overhype and overconfidence with some shallow praise. It's been a decade and a half since the Braves were true underdogs in the division (the playoffs are another story, heh heh), and they're itching to be labeled anything but the front-runner. Atlanta loved the melodrama of the miracle Bobby Cox, Leo Mazzone, John Schuerholz and the rest pulled out last year, and if anyone in this wily web (consisting of Rob, me, and the city of Atlanta) is sandbagging, they are. The Braves certainly stand in the way of both the division and the Vegas-laid 91-win threshold for the Mets.

Rob may have been swayed by those over/under figures, or he may just be craftier than we give him credit. But 91 Met wins also reflect a skew for the growing fan-swayed consensus that the Mets are the team to beat in the NL East, if not the NL. Likewise, the Sox are more than glad to shed some of the pressure from the Nation with a 10-game deficit to the Yankees in expectations, and Rob is glad to apply that 90/91-win figure to the Case Bet.

The Bottom Line: if Rob is just stingy and looking for free beer (God bless him), we can keep this bet at even. But my baseball judgment says that the Sox should win 93 games and the Mets should win 89, maybe 90.

Let the squawking commence.

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