Games 137 through 139 - Mets
Mets 6, Marlins 2
Mets 4, Brewers 2
Mets 6, Brewers 5 (10 inn.)
Over the course of a season, you look for reasons to believe in your team. You also look for reasons to connect with them, things about them that you inevitably enjoy. You want to like the team; you want to like their chances. The hapless 1962 Mets and the store-bought 2002 Yankees (Curtis Pride excepted) represent a drastic imbalance of those two wishes.
Rob connects on many levels with guys like Dustin Pedroia, diminutive overachievers with an extra dosage of scrap in them. At the other end of the uniform size spectrum, Big Papi still brings smiles. He also loves that the club's OBP is .362 on the year, tops in the AL and a substantial 11 points better than the second place team's. The team has a bead on the wild card, an eye on the Rays, and a veteran corps after the 2007 title. Likes his team, likes his chances.
Nick has griped about this guy and that guy -- as he is wont to do, with western PA coal-and-steel grumblebunny heritage. Still, he has to be enjoying what the trio of Cole Hamels, Bretty Myers, and -- unbelievably -- Jamie Moyer is doing in that lil' ol' ballyard lately. It exceeds expectation and damn near defies logic. On the other side of the ball, Chase Utley's quiet, workmanlike .929 OPS makes appreciators out of loyalists like Nick and naysayers like me. Jayson Werth? Overachiever. And with Jimmy Rollins waking up after a 4+-month nap, he could be a spark. Pat Burrell still brings out the worst in both of us at times, and Ryan Howard's K total is somethin' to behold, but by and large, this team more than likely has Nick liking the roster and their chances well enough.
Meanwhile . . . you can tell from Teejay's posts here that he's more than a little dissatisfied with the state of the Bombers. It's bad enough having to grit your teeth and root for ARod, but at least he's leading the regulars on the statistics page. (And in boos.) But bringing in guys like Sidney Ponson -- to a staff that has exactly 1 complete game this season -- isn't endearing the team to TJ's heart, and the owner whining all the way doesn't help, either. In truth, the Yanks are neither the villainous roster of yesteryear nor bereft of a shot at the postseason just yet. Based on Teej's work here, though, I'd say he's neither enamored of their chances, nor of the make-up of the team itself. (And yes, I included "make-up" with ARod in mind.)
And then there are the Mets. It's been a Loch Ness Monster of a season, and there is still a month left. I'll tell you why I sit here on September 3rd and like these Mets -- and their chances. Somewhere in the course of being a fat-payroll heavy favorite, the Mets strayed from the power hitters/power pitchers norm of such squads, and there was rarely more of a contrast to that model than last night against the Brewers.
The Brew Crew, a likable team themselves, has home run power throughout its lineup. "Dangerous" seems to be the most common descriptor for such a lineup. Home run threats galore. Still . . . when there is one out and men on second and third, they are at something of a disadvantage, amazingly enough. Huge whiffs by big bats in the Brewer order last night prevented them from tacking on extra runs that would likely have brought victory. Meanwhile, the Mets managed runs on groundouts and sac flies -- as is the norm, increasingly -- and eked a win out. A fairly key win, what with the Phightins taking on the venerable Nats and all.
The New York Mets have 840 strikeouts on the year, the lowest total in the National League. The Brewers, who sit fairly well entrenched in the wild card spot right now, have 1027 and counting. It's but one statistic amid a sea of debatably significant numbers. But it speaks to how the Mets, if they're going to get it done, will do so. They are 2nd in steals, third in walks, and near the top in OBP. A team that manufactures its runs will always have a shot, and will often be energizing to watch -- despite the lack of fireworks on display.
For the pitching staff, there aren't any numbers to give us renewed optimism (the Mets lead the league only in hit batsmen . . . look out, Chase), and tidbits like Pedro Martinez missing another start give us at least a little added concern. At the same time, the injury to Billy Wagner has continued to have exactly the desired effect my brother-in-law and I noticed a few games after it happened. The pen has somehow been galvanized while Jerry Manuel and Dan Warthen are bringing guys in based on situations and a case-by-case basis, not the pregame recipe. Even as Luis Ayala got earmarked for closing duties, he looked gimpy last night, a change may be in order, and you know we'll adjust.
I am simply appreciating the way the Mets are going about their business right now. A roster that includes Endy, Golden Boy, and Jose Reyes of the Flushing Reyeses (they total 3 now) will almost always get some of my endorsement regardless. Add in a Ryan Church, a once-again-smiling Carlos Delgado, and upstarts like Daniel "Magictone" Murphy, and I like this team. As for their chances . . . I'll just say they're on the right road, and that's something I wouldn't have said not that long ago.