Baseball Equinox

As Faith and Fear in Flushing points out, yesterday was the (Mets) Baseball Equinox. That magical time of year when the start of the baseball season is closer than the end of the last season.  It’s time to look forward.  It’s only 42 (ish, no official date yet) days until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on February 13th.

It’s unlikely the entire roster will be clear when that day arrives, or even set in stone on Opening Day.  The Mets aren’t likely to be revealed as a powerhouse out of camp, or be picked by many to even mak

e the playoffs.  Like many teams that go into the season with players with potential, players with talent, and players that need to stay healthy, it’s a fresh start and a fresh chance to change the narrative.

This isn’t a franchise that’s praying and hoping it’s latest batch of draft picks turns out to be superstars that they can control for years and actually compete.  The Mets are an under-performing team that finished around .500 last year. They’ve been cast as injury-prone, washed-up, creaky, soft, or just simply not that good.  As Sandy Alderson fills out the roster, and the Mets report for Spring Training and start showing us what they can do, they’ll have a chance to start changing what they’ve been type-cast as.

Carlos Beltran can hit the season healthy, and prove that a combination of time and his knee-brace can keep him on the field and performing all year long.  David Wright can take the mantle of captain, whether officially or unofficially, and lead this team.  Ike Davis and Jon Niese, among other 2010 rookies, can take that next step forward and become better major league baseball players. R.A. Dickey can assert that he’s a burgeoning knucklerballer, not a one-year wonder. The Mets can start rewriting their story as a well-run, hard-working team of talent rather than the usual mess they’re portrayed as.  It’ll take some effort and success and maybe even luck to start getting the reporters and fans to see this cast of characters as a new team.  Still, the foundation is there.  The Mets have a new general manager and manager that the media would love to cast as saviors.   They’ll be falling over themselves to to explain how Collin’s fiery leadership is leading to wins and success on the field.  They’ll praise Alderson’s construction of the bench, or the bullpen, or his choice at 2B as brilliant.

It’s 2011 and we’re closer to the new season than the old one.  Baseball is around the corner and the Mets have nowhere to go but up.  There are still acquisitions to happen, and jobs to be won, but when the season starts we’ll have a lot to cheer about.

Optimism After Six Games

The Mets have played six games against the bottom of the division and lost the four games I didn’t attend.

There are still some good things to take from the season so far though, and you can read about them in detail in my post for The Real Dirty Mets Blog.

The fans at the park so far have been pretty pathetic, in terms of their booing Santana and failure to really get into any of the games and actually cheer like Mets fans used to.  Greg over at Faith and Fear in Flushing recaps this issue rather nicely.

Patrick Flood wrote a nice piece that really drives home how much we’ve missed Reyes.   This piece represents another reason why I think it was despicable of Jerry Manuel to bunt Reyes over on Saturday.

It seems even the beat writers are stirring about it being time to fire Jerry Manuel, something I’ve long felt was necessary.  For better or worse I don’t believe the Mets will do anything before May 3rd after the first series agains the Phillies.

Best Season Ever?

Greg over at Faith and Fear likes to go on about the ‘almost’ seasons like ’97; years that express the Mets rebirth from the basement into a competitor. These are usually seasons that have little or no possibility of horrific disappointment because you expect nothing and know it’d be a crazy long shot for anything magical to happen.

No one is looking at 2007 with anything but disgust; At least not on this end of the Jersey Turnpike. There was very little ‘good’ to take out of last year. Even something that might have been something, Glavine’s 300th win, was forever marred by..well you know. I’m sure there were some fun and memorable moments from 2007, but I find myself at a mental block whenever thoughts stray to that year.

2008 will be better, because it’s not like those other years where we expected nothing and got something. Not because it can’t possibly be worse. In a way it combines that magical trait of moving from nowhere to somewhere with the expectation of something exceptional. Much like ’83 or ’96 were worthless years leading into something bigger, ’07 will be the same way. The difference with 2008 is that it’s not coming off an era of irrelevance. Disregarding all the Shea Goodbye and other off the field stuff, 2008 is a recovery year but not just one where we look at the team and enjoy watching them because there is hope and good baseball for once. 2008 has endless possibilities all the way to the end, but even if it were to end as horrifically as any other season there is still that ‘97/’05 quality to it that will keep it in our minds.

For us younger fans (And by that I mean under 30 or so, which is a sad statement in it of itself), I imagine this is how it felt to watch Gooden in 1984. Pelfrey has blossomed into something every team dreams of, a home grown Ace. Even if he might never be the Ace on the Mets because we already have one, even If the Mets never win another game this year, there is something rather exciting coming out of 2008 that makes most of us rather giddy. Can you imagine what the future holds with a 1-2 punch of Santana and Pelfrey? How about how solid Daniel Murphy looks at the plate, coming seemingly out of nowhere? And of course I don’t need to express how wonderful it is to have two franchise ‘veterans’ in Wright and Reyes continue to shine. They hopefully haven’t even reached their prime yet, and they already hold places in the Mets record books that will have them mentioned for decades to come. These are only some of the moments that make 2008 already memorable. From as simple as sweeping the Yankees in the final Subway Series at Yankee Stadium to the possibility of winning it all, 2008 has something for every Mets fan to remember fondly.

Where will this chapter of Mets history take us? That’s yet to be determined, but it’s safe to say that the season will be full of successes no matter how it ends. Step back from the internal strife, the bullpen woes, and the late-inning offensive slumps to appreciate the good aspects of the season. Whether it’s Reyes’ or Wright’s all around good play, the joy of watching an emerging Ace or an already dominant one, the discarded player in Tatis making a comeback to have an excellent year, or any of the other exciting secondary stories that are playing out this year. Then brace for the next four to eight weeks as I expect this season could jump to near the top of the list of best seasons ever for both young and old fans alike.