The Mets Are Confident

Over a month ago I wrote about the Mets breeding confidence with a big win. For all the talk of how the Mets haven’t been involved in any walk-off wins or losses this year, the only thing stopping that one was that they were on the road.  After falling behind 3-2 in the bottom of the 8th, the Mets rallied for four runs to win 6-3.  It was the game with the Hu sac-fly to tie it, perhaps the best moment of Hu’s Mets career.   Yesterday suggested that the Mets may in fact believe in themselves.

They’d come off a very tough loss the night before with a lot of bad luck and bloops and they were getting some of that same bad luck early.  Pelfrey struggled.  Except for Justin Turner the night before the Mets hadn’t hit a home run since Mike Piazza retired and were barely scoring runs.   All that didn’t stop Carlos Beltran from striding to the place and smashing a home run well over the left field fence to get the game to 7-3.  From there the Mets did what they could, with a lot of help from the Pirates, to tie the game and eventually take the lead 9-7 and the 9-8 win.

The Mets believe they can win games.  They believe they’re a talented team, injuries or not.  Terry Collins believes it too; whether or not his tirade in the post-game conference the other day had any motivating benefits to it, it wasn’t fake. 

Just believing in yourself is not enough to win baseball games, but doubting yourself or your team can lead to losses in games like yesterday.  Opportunities for wins can come at the strangest times and places, but a team needs to be prepared to capitalize.   This one come from behind win doesn’t forgive letting leads get away in the other games during this homestand by not making pitches or catches, but hopefully it helps the players believe that they CAN make those pitches and win baseball games.

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Letters to the NL East, Part 5, Dear Mets…

Letters to the NL East, Part 5.

 

Dear Beloved New York Mets,

 

Get angry.  Seemingly everyone is against you and no one believes in you, but just because circumstances have worked against you recently doesn’t mean you’re out already for 2011.  What do the experts know?  It’s finally time to actually play some baseball, something you’re all pretty good at.  It’s time to surprise some people.  I’m going to go out on a limb and predict a division winner, with the clinching game coming on Sunday September 25th the Phillies on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball.  Bobby Valentine will call the action.

 

David Wright says you need to practice beating teams and getting that swagger and confidence back.  Do it.  The first nine games are against the Marlins, the Nationals, and the Phillies.  With the Phillies you get Hamels who pitches poorly against the Mets, Blanton who’s not very good, and Roy Halladay. It’s the perfect opportunity to get off to a fast start, get Bay and Paulino back, get guys healthy and on track, and start doling out punishment.

 

Remember, as much as the media wants to write about the Mets being in disrepair, the financial mess, and all the recycled story lines about grit and soft players that they’ve used in the past, if you give them a different story to write they’ll run with that too.  People still write about the 1986 team, of which it’s the 25th anniversary of, because their story of beating up on the league and being unapologetic about it was fun to write.  So give the writers a story about redemption and revenge.   Cast the team, and Wright, as David versus Goliath.  Treat everyone as the enemy and don’t let up.

 

The best thing about this team is it’s depth and balance.   There aren’t a lot, if any, bad players on this team.  No Jeff Francoeur, no Gary Matthews Jr.  There are a variety of relievers that could’ve made the team that are waiting around in Port St. Lucie, and there are seemingly a half dozen different outfield prospects that could show up at any given time.  Sure, no one ran away with the second base job, but no one threw it away either.  Daniel Murphy and Justin Turner and even Ruben Tejada are right around the corner, or at the end of the dugout, should Emaus not be the guy.  Your worst pitcher is either a second year prospect who could come close to 200 Ks, or a former All-Star who pitched to a sub-4 ERA in 66 innings last year in returning from injury.

 

You are not going to be easy to beat this year, and with some discipline and health, you could make it a really exciting season.   Remember, no one gets a handicap for winning the division last year, or for having the best team on paper.  It’s time to play the games.

 

Your Excited Supporter,

 

Optimistic Mets Fan

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Upcoming Expections For The Mets

I understand the season has been hurtful so far.  I also understand that even the worst teams in baseball don’t play this badly, and that they will win more games.  So how do we shake this feeling of doom?

YaGottaBelieveSign

I’m pretty confident in Pelfrey throwing a good game tonight.  I think what he worked on this Spring is going to help a lot, he’s getting less distracted on the mound, and has that cocky confidence that this team needs. 

You never know with Perez, and I worry that the stupid tinkering that Warthen did with Maine was also a failure for Perez, but I think the Mets will have a chance to win the game tomorrow when he pitches. 

Santana is due to bounce back and win one on Saturday.  He’s Johan Santana after all.

Then Maine, who I think gets a huge boost being out from under Warthen’s shackles.  Doesn’t mean he’ll be successful though, especially the first time going back to what’s worked for him, but the numbers are there if you choose to believe. (those numbers being a 4-1 2.75 ERA May last year before surgery in June.  Those numbers being that he was hitting 93 last year, and was 91-92 in the return from surgery in September)  I’m hoping being able to be comfortable will be like a weight off his shoulder and he’ll do just fine.  I’m certainly not ready to believe Maine’s career is over.

Maybe they drop one of those, which would put them at 5-7.  Then they go home for a 10 game home stand where if they go 6-4 they’re back at .500 and go to Philadelphia, a park the Mets love to hit in with hopefully the offense finally clicking, and knock the ball, and 2009, out of the park.

That’s the formula to shake these bad feelings away.  If the Mets can get to Philadelphia near .500 and play well there against an injured Phillies team and assert, even if it’s just for one series, that they’re the better team it will go a long way to returning the confidence to this team, and to it’s fans.

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Hang on to Those Towels

Have You Thrown in the Towel?

dont-throw-towel

It’s not far fetched, and I don’t blame him. It’s hard not to be frustrated and disgusted with the Mets the way they’re playing. There is blame on the field, in the dugout, within management and even with in the front office, all the way up. I’m not sure I’m even willing to excuse the ushers or ticket takers from the poor play of the Mets.

But it’s not over. If only it was. We all know how much 2003 sucked, but right now I think 2009 has sucked more. There was some hope in 2003. Shea Stadium shook in 2003, if only because Mo Vaughn was trying to make it to first base. You had Alomar who had been a great player; surely after a year of getting accustomed to New York, he’d return to form. You still had Piazza.

It became evident pretty fast that these guys weren’t going to get it done. It was a season probably very similar to how the Pirates fans think, of “Well, if this guy gets hot, gets good, figures it out.. then..maybe..” By mid-April, most fans realized that there was no point in getting invested in the season.

One of the bright spots of 2003 was getting to see our star prospect, Jose Reyes. A lot of 2009 hinges on the same idea. Right now it feels like they’re being overly cautious, not even testing the injury. On one hand this could mean he’s still not healthy, on the other it could mean he’s 100% healed and almost ready to go. He’s been swinging down in Florida so I hope this is the Mets way of getting his swing in shape while still resting the injury. Hopefully he’ll be ready to go, and soon.

The biggest reason I would say not to throw in the towel has to do with not being overly critical of our existing players. Despite the injuries, the Mets are in the top of the league in batting average, on base percentage. They’re getting guys on, they’re getting chances. The problem is what they do with those chances. Part of it is that they have Fernando Tatis, and lead the league in grounding into double plays. Part of it’s lineup management. If you have a lot of guys getting on, but not getting in, the lineup needs to be shaken up. Things like batting Luis Castillo and his high OBP 8th, where he’s more likely to be stranded due to the pitcher’s spot, inflate these numbers. Part of it may be the lack of power, and not being able to get as many runs out of one hit. Part of it may be the bunting, which gives away an out and a chance to have a big inning.

Another culprit has been the fundamentals. This has been a problem for most of the year, and why Jerry Manuel is not working harder at stressing it is beyond me. Especially when many of the errors seem to be of the mental kind, suggesting that the players aren’t in the right frame of mind in the field. It’s the manager’s job to get his players ready for the game. This doesn’t excuse them from making these mistakes, but it is a fault of the manager as well. When players are pressing, even in the first inning, something needs to be done. These guys need to relax. Especially David Wright who’s carrying the weight of all our expectations on his shoulders. Daniel Murphy is another who works so hard, that maybe it’s too hard.

This leads me to another thought, which is Jose Reyes in the clubhouse. Reyes, despite being a hard worker, is a very happy go lucky guy. Love it or hate it, he’s pretty much defined the atmosphere of the Mets clubhouse for years. I think the Mets miss that. His energy is something that’s missing with this team and hopefully when he comes back that energy is something he can rev people up with, get them confident and relaxed, and win some ballgames and maybe stop some of these mental errors.

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On Top of the World

A huge confidence booster to end the unofficial first half on this kind of note. Win or lose tomorrow, when they resume play on Thursday it’ll be with the knowledge that they can and will beat everyone.

The Mets now control their own destiny. They are zero losses behind for the lead, so if they win, they win. It’s a good place to be, and even if they were to fall back to one out, they can go into the break relaxed and confident.

For the first time probably all year, their was optimism and confidence in the stands at Shea while I was there. And the place was virtually packed too.

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Can’t Rain On This Parade

Five in a row! Again! Suddenly, the sky is blue and the paths are rosy. The Mets can do no wrong, the bench players come through with big hits, the bullpen and starters don’t allow runs and the Mets win the games instead of finding ways to lose.

Nothing has changed and yet everything has changed. Pelfrey looks so good that even the Mets of next year look good! The biggest difference in my eyes has been Carlos Delgado. Delgado is finally hitting the baseball hard, laying off of bad pitches, and driving it all over the place. I think Delgado has suddenly become better than he was in 2006, where he was even streakier. His ability to hit the ball hard has changed this lineup drastically, and he’s starting to scare pitchers again. He’s suddenly gotten his batter’s eye back, and as he hits more, pitchers will pitcher him more carefully, which means he’ll be able to draw more walks and consequentially, make less outs and ground into less double plays. If he remains hitting sixth, whoever hits in front of him is going to find more pitches to hit, and do better themselves. I know Endy has been playing well, but it’s no surprise that since Delgado has started hitting, this offense has been hot and those outfield holes have looked a lot smaller. Smaller holes means less desperation for Omar to find another outfield bat, and less desperation means he can be patient and find that diamond in the rough without sacrificing prospects and the future. I look forward to see what he can do over these next three weeks.

Except for a brief euphoria after Santana’s opening game win, or the brief glee we felt in April of 2007 starting with the vengeance sweep of the Cardinals, this may be the happiest Mets fans have felt since Endy came down with that catch. There will still be rough patches; The Phillies aren’t a great team, but there offense will have more hot streaks where they win a stretch of games. This is irrelevant if the Mets continue to perform as they have, as they’ll far outclass the Phillies. There are four games left before the break, and for the first time I find myself not agonizing over having to have a certain record to match a certain record to the Phillies. Barring catastrophe, we’ll go into the break with a virtual clean slate; able to outplay the Phillies, and the Braves and Marlins and Nationals, and win this division.

Chances are the Giants will find a way to score at least one run in their trip to New York, but I have a lot of confidence in John Maine to get the job done tonight. Let’s Go Mets!

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Mets Believe Mets Fans Believe They Can Win

I was at the Subway Series games this weekend, and while a lot of the juice has gone out of it, there was still excitement in the air. The lack of juice could be attributed to both teams struggling. I didn’t hear one “Jet-ers Boy-Friend” chant for A-Rod. No Hip-Hip You’re-Gay! No Captain Cologne! (Admittedly, some of these are better left unsaid) There were still a good amount of Yankees fans being positive, cheering “Der-ek Jet-er” and other assorted lame Yankees chants. Despite the Yankees being in arguably a worse position than the Mets, their fans are still more optimistic.

The argument everyone always falls back on is they’ve won in the past. But winning in the past doesn’t do anything for winning in the present. The only thing it affects is confidence, and part of that is fan confidence. Who do you think has more confidence in their team, and their own performance? Cano, or Castillo? Both are playing badly, but one guy is having his head called for constantly and booed. The other is certainly souring faces, but he’s not yet being chased out of town or having fans seriously consider releasing him. Sometimes if you tell someone that they are a certain way enough, they believe it themselves. When Delgado comes up to the plate, everyone at Shea is convinced and screaming at him that he’s going to ground out to second, so he’s thinking about grounding out to second. Just like you can’t stop thinking about the giant elephant in the room. Conversely, Derek Jeter comes up in a big spot thinking he’s going to come through because that’s what everyone always tells him he does. So he hits roughly the same ground ball, but instead it seems to go a little faster, and just seems to find that hole between second and first.

So how about we go about our business as Mets fans with a little bit of swagger and confidence. We just crushed the Yankees, winning the series 4-2. Play that way all season and the Mets would win well over 100 games. We’ve gained on the Phillies, and we’re coming with a vengeance that they should be frightened of. Even bad teams can win frequently, and whether you think the Mets are good, bad, or somewhere in between, lets go out there and root like we think and know they will win the game instead of constantly telling them how they’re going to fail and not good enough for us. Maybe they’ll start to believe it too.

Oh, and Jerry Manuel telling everyone that the it’s the Yankees town isn’t helping. All it did was give fodder to the newspapers to continue talking about the Yankees and treating the Mets like the second team.

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Champagne

It sounds like some people might have an issue with Willie Randolph’s comment about sipping the champagne being sweeter when they do pull it out.

I don’t have an issue with it, I like the confidence, I liked that he was talking packing for Detroit before game 7 last year. Confidence!

Joe Beningo is talking about “This isn’t the Yankees, this is the Mets” trying to say we’re not as good as them because we’re second-class. We’re not. We’re not their shadow, we’re our own team, and Willie Randolph not panicking is better than expecting it because “It’s the Mets”

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