Thursday, April 05, 2007

April Wine

Game 3 – Mets

Mets 10, Cardinals 0
Record: 3-0

Across the Township last night and into this morning, just above a murmur you could make out one agonizing, rhetorical question . . .

“Where the hell was this in October?”

It’s easy to ponder painfully what might’ve been if just a sliver of this all-around display of domination had been realized six months ago when it mattered much more, but there’s no point in belaboring it beyond a sardonic smile and a shrug. That was then, this is now, and while there’s not that much difference in the rosters that played to a much different finish in the NLCS, it’s still idle speculation and frustration.

It’s a far more pleasing outlook to heed Rob’s advice and look at last fall’s outcome as a necessary stepping stone towards a greater glory. I said early on last year that I thought the ’06 Mets fit the part of their 1985 predecessors, not a championship club but building towards one, and damned if the St. Louis Cardinals didn’t do their part to dash my hopes -- just as they did back in '85 -- when my expectations were exceeded.

In the year of our Lord 1986, the Redbirds exited the gate as if they expected to repeat, notching a 7-1 start while the Mets moseyed out, dropping three of their first five. Despite the early stumble, those Mets had come close to the postseason the year prior – 98 wins couldn’t get them in back in those days – and their determination was never keener. By the end of April, the Mets were 13-3, the Cards were 8-10; a month later the records were 31-12 and 17-27, earning first and last place respectively. Soon enough, Whitey Herzog (even less likable than St. Louis’s current skipper) and the Cards were Judge Smails to the brash Mets’ Al Czervik. (“Hey, Whitey, where’s your hat?”) The Cardinals’ supposed repeat ended in a losing season; the Mets built on the ’85 ire and . . . well, you know.

I’m not presupposing anything. I’m just saying.

In the long, meandering march to October, you can’t get too bogged down or pumped up by early April results. Still, it’s hard to be anything less than optimistic after sweeping through the Cardinals like they weren’t even there. The Mets outscored St. Louis 20-2 over three games, and last night’s 10-0 beatdown – despite Braden Looper sticking it to every foolhardy Metsblogger who’d salivated at seeing him on the docket – stands as a definitive opening remark in the Case of the 2007 New York Mets.

Every team says in springtime that their mission is nothing less than a title, when in actuality only a handful can claim a viable stake in contention. (Leave parity to the NFL; this is baseball, where small market franchises have as much chance of hoisting the trophy as mid-majors in the NCAA tournament.) This Mets team is clearly one of the contenders, a few naysayers (where starting pitching is concerned) be damned.

This weekend the Metropolitans will have a chance to make another statement, visiting Turner Field to take on a resurgent Braves squad. What passed for a rivalry for the last four or five years was really more of a bully & victim scenario, with the Braves beating up on the Mets until the roles were reversed last year. This year, though, expect to see more of a truly adversarial relationship between the two, with Philly hanging around just to annoy everyone.

Ollie Perez, another part of what one member of the think tank that is the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s sportswriting staff called “a ghastly rotation,” gets to either confirm or refute the masses of skeptics and their puddle-deep insight. To some extent, we still might be in wait-and-see mode on the Peterson Principles where several key arms are concerned, but right about now I can’t wait for each game’s opening pitch. That’s what an opening-series bludgeoning of the defending champs gets you. So far, so good.

2 comments:

mr. met said...

Mets gastly rotation? I love it...Redman...Davies...Cormeier (sp?)...Hampton? Is Hudson really the old Hudson? Smoltzie is a given, but I love how everyone is just so biased.

While I don't confuse the Mets rotation with that of the 2002/2003 A's, they are certainly good enough to get the job done with this defense and this bullpen. They should get solid and steady performances from 4 of 5 spots with Ollie P. being the wildcard everytime he takes the mound until he proves he can pitch with some consistency.

I say fuck everyone! Why is everyone against the Mets anyway?

Whitney said...

Mike, I'd like to believe that it's less of a case of anti-Mets on most of the folks' part (Atlanta, Richmond, etc. excluded; their anti-NY stance is comical) and more of a "well, I spent a good 5 minutes this winter figuring out the opposition, and this is what I came up with." It's fairly pedestrian for a professional journalist to know the hometown nine inside and out while displaying a less than cursory knowledge of the division rivals, not to mention the rest of the league.

It makes it even nicer when they people they publicly trash in March and early April do well. I'm trying not to get overconfident at this point, but these assclowns make me prouder of the Mets than I should be.