The Matt Harvey Days Were Fun Weren’t They?

Matt Harvey deserves a tribute video, and an ovation from Mets fans, surely. He literally gave a rib trying to pitch for the Mets, and was a fireballing star for a few years there. Top of the world so to speak. That’s fun.

We’re perhaps making too much of his return here. It’s fun that we’ll get to see him again, but this isn’t aging veteran returning in the sunset of his career, nor is it talented free agent the Mets let get away and is now returning to threaten them. It’s a pitcher that had a few great and powerful years with the Mets, both on and off the field. He pitched our All Star Game, Our last World Series game, and he did so well. Maybe It’s me that’s not making enough of this.

It’s unfair to say Harvey burned bright and faded away, it wasn’t that he flew too close to the sun, or whatever metaphor you want to use. Like so many other pitchers, he was really really good, got hurt because pitching is dangerous, and hasn’t been able to recapture what made him great in the first place.

For Harvey, that’s fastball velocity. Baseball’s a game of inches after all. It’s hard to be the best of the best of the best, and while there are some pitchers that manage to adjust to fading velocity with command, or movement, that’s a different skill. Not all pitchers have them all to the same elite level. It appears Matt Harvey does not quite have it, and without the extra velocity, he’s just too hittable.

Matt Harvey started the All Star Game at Citi Field, which will forever be harkened back to every time or any time we host again. The Mets couldn’t keep 2015 going a few more games, but Harvey’s great performance in that game 5 will forever be remembered, and talked about whenever we make the World Series next.

The Harvey days were fun, and while his return this afternoon is not particularly meaningful, It gives us this time to reflect back and remember those good times. For an inning or two, before Lindor homers for the second time in the bottom of the 2nd and chases him from the game.

That Was Exhausting

A month of critical games is a fun time, but it really kept me busy. There’s lots to think about and analyze, without getting too nit-picky about individual mistakes.  I’m sure these thoughts will trickle in as I decompress over the next few weeks, but for now it’s time to catch up on some sleep and relish what was a great season.


photo by Ceetar

Are You Ready For The World Series?

photo by CeetarI’m not sure I’m ready. I’m not sure it’s really fully sunk in that the Mets are one series away from perhaps a World Championship. Being a tiny child during the last one the idea of winning it all is this mythical beast suddenly very much real. Dragons are alive and well in Westeros Flushing.


In roughly a week the Mets will either be planning a parade or adding a new mortal enemy to the list of teams that we don’t like. There will be players that will be revered as much as Keith Hernandez or perhaps vilified as much as Mike Scioscia and Yadier Molina. The stakes are high.


No matter what you believed about this team, a World Series appearance requires all sorts of things to break right. Just a few months ago we were pondering what it would take to fend off the Washington Nationals, not wondering how the Mets match up against an American League champion.


The World Series has a certain level of awe to it above that of the NLCS. There are only two teams left in all of baseball, just four to seven games left in the entire season. For the first time in 15 years no team will play baseball after the Mets have gone home. The final quest for a third championship begins now.


Ready or not, here we go.

The Mets Aren’t Playing With House Money

The Mets are now officially going to the playoffs, something very few people expected them to seriously do, especially as division champs. You may be telling yourself everything from here on out is gravy, that you’re just happy they made it.


You’d be wrong. It won’t be as big a failure if the Mets lose in the NLDS, but it’ll still be failure. It’ll still be gut-wrenching and horrible, and you still won’t be able to sleep for a week afterwards. You’re not going to just shrug your shoulders and say “It was a fun ride, happy with what they gave us.” Maybe in a few months, after rationally thinking about it, you’ll feel that way, but half the enjoyment of sports is the visceral in-the-moment emotional roller coaster. I still hear people bemoaning things that happened decades ago, and a first round exit won’t happen without creating a few ghosts for us to carry with us. 2006 stung, despite it being a fun ride and despite it seemingly like a stepping stone to long term success.


Fandom requires a certain amount of emotional buy-in, and this team is an exciting one to buy into. It’s not just that we’re invested though, they’re a quality team. These Mets are not squeaking into the playoffs in a way that makes us thankful just to make it; they’ve legitimately got the horses to make a run at the whole World Championship. The Mets have a team that CAN win this year, and if they fail to do so it will undoubtedly be crushing. Yes, the journey has been fun and crazy and magical.


Of course, it WILL probably all come crashing down. The Mets would have to get through three rounds against three quality teams and there are absolutely no guarantees in a short series. There’s no shame in losing early, but it’d still be pretty disappointing. The ride has been fun, and it’s that possibility of gut-wrenching defeat that makes the highs so high.


Let’s all enjoy the ride. Just don’t pretend you’ve got nothing to lose and it’s all house money. When October 9th rolls around, we’re all going to be on the edge of our seat fretting every pitch. A crushing defeat does not invalidate the stunning season despite being a disappointment in it’s own right. That great season just bought us a ticket to a higher-limit table is all.

So Long Baseball

photo by Ceetar


Baseball is over. We are all sad. It’s been nearly a month since the Mets played though, and that regular routine of baseball has been weened from our schedule already. It feels like ages since they’ve played.


Are the Mets next? Will the Mets at least be in the conversation to be next? Time will tell. The season of half-baked rumors begins now.

Bobby Valentine At Citi Field?

Many Mets fans wanted Bobby Valentine hired to manage the Mets again at Citi Field.  Well, there is still a chance he could manage here; The Boston Red Sox just need to make it to the World Series this year and he’ll be in the dugout managing the American League Club at next year’s All-Star Game.


It requires rooting for the Red Sox of course, which isn’t something I’ve ever had trouble doing.  The enemy of my enemy is my friend after all.


The perfect scenario is Valentine manages the All-Star Game as the losing manager from this year’s World Series, and that Terry Collins manages the other team.  An interesting twist would be if somehow the Nationals make the World Series and we get a Valentine vs. Davey Johnson matchup at Citi Field.

Why The All-Star Game (at Citi Field) Will Be Awesome

I know it’s popular to knock the All-Star Game and it all represents, but the truth of it is that it’s basically a party to celebrate baseball, and who doesn’t love baseball?  And like most parties, it’s much much better in person.


I was there for the 2006 All-Star Game and had an absolute blast in Pittsburgh despite driving back after the game to New York and going to work Wednesday morning.   Click the link to read my take on the experience, including the Home Run Derby.  It was really a lot of fun, and I’m truly looking forward to getting to experience it at home.


So expect a lot of thoughts and reactions about the game, particularly as the more exciting details come out about All-Star Villages, first pitches, and potential celebrations.   Now a note to the 2012 Mets: Get to the World Series so Terry Collins can manage and the proper (too many) amount of Mets get represented in the game.

A Chance For The 2012 New York Mets

Take 2011 where two teams completely out of it suddenly made the playoffs and one of them even won it all.  It’s impossible to predict baseball.  Sure you usually have a pretty good chance of knowing which teams will be good, and which will be bad, but every year dozens of people that watch hundreds of games are completely wrong about who’s going to win divisions.


Despite a handful of games against the Wild Card-leading Atlanta Braves still to come in the last 60 or so games, when the Mets traded Carlos Beltran on July 27th while trailing those Braves by 7.5 games, it was considered the right move.  That’s a lot of ground to make up for a team barely above .500, and the long term benefits of trading Beltran were largely considered to outweigh any gutshot chance the Mets had at overcoming that deficit.  As it turns out, the Mets were only two games behind the team that eventually won the Wild Card.  The St. Louis Cardinals were a mere couple of games better than the Mets at that point, and they even still had head to head games remaining.    A lot of things still went wrong for the Mets from that point forward.  They didn’t finish above .500 and it’s extremely unlikely that keeping Beltran would’ve made much of a difference.  Still, it’s a pretty good example of how you never quite know what it’s going to take to make the playoffs.


That’s what I want from the Mets in 2012 while they get their payroll/revenue balance under control.   I’m not demanding they throw money around and attempt to buy a championship, but they need to keep the possibility of a championship open.  Put the team in a position so that if most things go right they can make the playoffs.  I’m not talking outlandish things like Ruben Tejada putting up a season like Jose Reyes.   Jose Reyes plays 140+ games.  Jason Bay has a season that splits the difference between his best years and his Mets years.  Johan Santana makes 30 starts and is a good, if not great, pitcher.  Pagan is more pre-2011 Met than 2011 Met.  Josh Thole, Lucas Duda, and Ike Davis progress and have good solid major league years at their positions.  Jon Niese takes a step forward.  Mike Pelfrey‘s numbers fall more in line with 2010 than 2011.   The bullpen guys that get signed, coupled with the ones that remain from last year, perform reasonably well and keep the games from getting away.  The biggest one of course is that the Mets stay reasonably healthy.


None of those things are that outlandish.  Some are even likely.  There are also good things and bad things that will be completely unforeseen.   David Wright could break his back again, or R.A. Dickey could decide to live on Kilimanjaro and back out of his 2012 contract.  One of the yet unsigned relievers could go on to have an unbelievable shut-down type year, and Mark Cohoon could be promoted from the minors in May and have a Rookie of the Year caliber season.  You just never know, so give it a chance and hope and root for more good than bad.  We’re certainly due.





Redirecting the Optimism

I don’t quite want to eulogize the Mets just yet.  While the chances of making the playoffs just went on the DL with little hope of returning this season, there is still baseball that’s being played, and out of the playoffs is not the same as no longer playing.  There will be plenty of time to deconstruct and over-analyze 2011 in the offseason, while we’re rooting against all those evil teams that made the playoffs.


So where do we direct that optimism that failed us in 2011?  For starters, the rookies and prospects that will get some extra time will go a long way towards being able to make informed decisions about the 2012 roster.  How feasible is Lucas Duda going to be?  Has Josh Thole rebounded from a poor beginning to the point that we don’t need to look at other options?   There are enough guys that will get some playing time to have a lot of options for the future.


The other place to direct the optimism is at the teams we hate.  The Phillies, despite the pitching, tend to look like they can be had if the opposing team’s pitching is on.  Given that they may have to face the Giants and the Braves, they certainly could be looking at an early exit from the playoffs if they hit a hot pitcher in a short series.  The Yankees look more well rounded than the Phillies, but they also seem to lack a certain depth that may leave them exposed if everything is not clicking when they reach the playoffs.


Personally I’m rooting for Carlos Beltran and the Giants over the Red Sox in the World Series.