With the excitement of Opening Day, and the disappointment of a rain delay and a loss, our first series win, and Matt Harvey’s return the Mets have packed a lot into the first week of the season. Now it’s time to settle in for the long season and make the Mets a part of our routine.
Next week the Mets return home, we get Citi Field noises and visits, normal 7:10 start times and the flood–might still be a trickle–of Mets caps and jerseys representing people headed to the game that evening. The Mets play everyday. It becomes a routine. Arrow, Jeopardy and iZombie episodes pile up on the DVR. We’ll have seen every NL East team by next weekend, and we’ll get acquainted with new heroes and villains.
Baseball is back!
Monday is Opening Day. I’ll be doing my usually stroll through the stadium looking for what’s new, cataloging the new beer selection, and just generally tweeting and sharing interesting observations. Make sure you follow along on Twitter.
Are you? I admit I’m almost always excited when Opening Day comes around.
It’s about Matt Harvey. Harvey has star power, and that’s going to be fun. Whether or not he is an MVP candidate or not, he’ll pitch well because he’s a talented pitcher. He’ll be interesting and exciting as well, and he’ll piss people off. All that makes for good entertainment.
It’s about Juan Lagares, who even in Spring Training was impressing opposing announcers making plays in center field. While Lagares might not be great at the plate, I have confidence in him driving the ball occasionally and playing well enough to be an extremely valuable all-around player.
It’s about David Wright being back and healthy. Sure, he might not stay like that, but I have hope he will. He’s a Mets legend we have the privilege of still watching, and I’m going to enjoy that. He did seem to be a little looser this spring, but of course it’s spring training and most people feel pretty good. Outside of strictly gameplay, I’ve seen a few stories this spring about the Mets doing something ‘at Wright’s suggestion’. Seems like he’s taking this captain thing seriously.
What about Lucas Duda, our quirky big-man with the lumberjack swing? Jacob deGrom’s hair, and his pitching? The varied amount of hard throwers in the bullpen? The impending promotion of even more talented starting pitching?
The Nationals are certainly going to present a challenge, but they’ve shown plenty of signs of injury too.
The Marlins made a lot of changes, and have a lot of young players, but change for change’s sake isn’t always good change and just because a player is young and has talent doesn’t mean he becomes a useful major leaguer overnight. The Marlins will probably be what the Marlins usually are; pesky but ultimately an average team.
The Braves and Phillies are barely worth mentioning.
It’s not going to be easy. It’s not going to be without some struggle.
But it IS going to be fun.
Baseball is back!
The Mets have committed to not riding Matt Harvey, just back from Tommy John surgery, as hard as they can from bell to bell. A little caution and prudence is the right course here.
Managing the innings and workload early is the best way to handle this. Despite what you see in meaningless Spring Training games, there just might be an adjustment period for Harvey as he settles into facing competitive batters again. April, and the cold, are generally harsher on bodies than the warmer summer months and even the fall after you’ve build up arm strength all season. He’ll still face the Washington Nationals, the Mets’ principal foe this season, in the first round.
It’s those very Nationals that provided the template for what not to do. Perhaps if the Nationals had been wiser in 2012 about resting Steven Strasburg earlier in the season, they’d have had innings left to use him in the playoffs and perhaps the Nationals would have more to show for their playoff appearances than they do right now.
A slow ramp up is the right move with Harvey, especially as his own mentality would have him pressing hard and fast from the get-go. Ease into it; it’s a long season and the hope is to have Harvey healthy and fresh for October.
These days most pitchers and catchers are in camp days earlier, and the position players are showing up earlier and earlier too. Thanks to the Mets acquiring a popular training program and moving it to Port St. Lucie, many players have been down there sporadically all winter, working out and getting ready for the season.
What we’re really counting down to when we talk about pitchers and catchers is to the day many of the media and beat writers start covering the team from Spring Training. The day is less about the start of baseball season and more about the start of forced columns about how guys are in the best shape of their lives. It’s basically beat writers taking attendance of all the players walking through the door.
What we’re really looking for is the first game against another opponent. The first game is Wednesday March 4th, and it’s the first game on the radio as well. We’ll get Josh Lewin’s voice, and perhaps Howie Rose’s as well if he can pop over to Florida between Islanders games in Dallas and Nashville, and the sounds of baseball in our ears. That’s when things start getting real, when two teams face off each other and half-heartedly try to get each other out while preparing for the regular season. The first television/SNY broadcast will probably be Friday March 6th against the Tigers.
It’s 20 days until the first Mets Spring Training game.
Simple, yet colorful. Blue and Orange.
On January 10th is the second annual Queens Baseball Convention at McFaddens Citi Field. If you talk to anyone that was there last year, you know that it was generally considered a blast, and this year will be even better. It’s basically the Mets fanfest you’ve always wished the Mets would hold, just held by fans–specifically Shannon and Mediagoon of Metspolice, Darren of The7Line and associated friends.
That includes me. I had a blast last time helping out and chatting with everyone about the Met and Baseball on a cold winter day. There were players, autographs, interesting panels and Mr. Met, and this year will be even better. I’ll be on hand wearing a jersey with ‘Ceetar’ on the back, so I’ll be easy to spot. (Last year I wore a Pagan jersey)
There’s plenty going on, as you can see from the website. My favorites are Josh Lewin being on hand to host the awards session. Mookie Wilson and Wally Backman will be there doing a panel and autographs. Ed Charles will accept the Gil Hodges Unforgettable Fire Award.
The calendar will just have turned and the holidays are in the rear view mirror. We’ll all be missing baseball and here’s a great way to get your fix with fellow fans. There’s even a t-shirt option with your ticket! Why not come out to the park and have a good time?
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.
The second half of the season is often time for change at ballparks, and Citi Field is no different. There is now a new cider stand located on the field level in the right field corner. Cider is a popular drink, and a growing one in popularity too. I wrote about some of the best ones over at BeerGraphs last year.
Obviously, some of these are macro brews masquerading as well-crafted ciders. The two taps, Johnny Appleseed and Stella Artois Cidre, are not good beer/ciders and are both brewed by large breweries. So is Smith and Forge.
Original Sin is a New York brewery, though technically it’s contract brewed in Florida, and I’ve enjoyed their cider from time to time. Angry Orchard ciders, both the apple ginger and crisp apple, are pretty good, and they’re brewed/owned by Sam Adams.
The most interesting one there though is McKenzie’s Original. McKenzie’s Hard Cider was founded in 2011 in Buffalo so they’re the most authentic New York cider on the list. I’ve never had the original, but I tasted both their Seasonal Reserve (which has the best BAR rating of any cider on BeerGraphs) and their black cherry, both which were delicious. The Seasonal Reserve tastes like apple pie. Delicious apple pie.
You can also find 16oz cans of McKenzie’s Original at the Empire State Beer stands and also Ommegang’s Cooperstown Ale, an American Blonde, that’s new as well.
You’ll notice the Shock Top HoneyCrisp Apple Wheat beer logo on the Cider Stand, but I didn’t actually see that one anywhere so I won’t comment on it.
Really. The best thing the 8-2 homestand did for us was save us from obscurity and create a chance, however slight, that the Mets could compete in the second half. While the Wild Card always remains an option, it’s the division you have to focus on, at least until September.
I’m not suggesting we start a magic number count or anything, but it’s okay to imagine the Mets running off a couple more 8-2 stretches over the next couple of months and thinking about how it could get them back into things. Especially if those winning stretches coincide with the 12 games left against the Nationals and the six games left with the Braves.
Right now the Mets are still chasing a number. They have to get above .500, and then they have to set a pace that gets them as many wins as will likely win the division. That number is currently very variable, and if perhaps the Nationals or Braves are flawed, struggle, or face injuries in the second half it’s an attainable one for the Mets.
The Nationals currently are on an 89 win pace on top of the division. The Mets would have to go 44-23 to reach that. That’s a .657 winning percentage, which would be 106 games over a 162 game schedule. That’s pretty high, although not impossible. Last year the Dodgers were 47-47 and went 45-23 (.662) to win 92 games. In 2012 Oakland finished 48-24 to win 93. Baltimore went 47-25 (.653) to win 93. Every year there is a team or two that plays ridiculously well over the last 60 or 70 games, and sometimes they’re teams that were wallowing around .500 at the All-Star break that no one though were that good. So why not the 2014 Mets?
The math changes if the top NL East team doesn’t win 89, and the Mets have the ability to change that themselves. Let’s say the Mets beat the Nationals in nine of their 13 meetings. Now even if they continue the rate of winning they’ve displayed so far this year in the rest of the non-Mets games, they’ll only win 86. Now the Mets would only need to go 32-22 (.593) in the other games to get to 86 wins. They have less games left against the Braves, but I believe the Nationals are the better team and that Atlanta is more likely to slip to a mid-80s, or lower, win total already.
I personally believe the Nationals and Braves aren’t great, and that it’s possible a mid-80s win total could win the division. There is also always the wild card of injuries, or more injuries than to the Mets, to the teams on top lowering their record.
Obviously good things need to happen for the Mets to play even the 36-31 ball that would get them to .500 and their first non-losing season in what feels like ages. Luckily there are plenty of good things you could see happening. David Wright could play more like he’s played of late and less like the powerless guy he was early on. Travis d’Arnaud really could have turned that corner and continue to hit like a major leaguer. Ruben Tejada needs to continue to get on base. Juan Lagares needs to hit more like he did early on this year, and/or the Mets could find another bat to play left field. The pitching is key, because the Mets seem to have plenty of talented pitchers already and plenty of depth available to them. They’ve got talented young arms they’re using in the bullpen and as a result the bullpen has been very good. If they can continue to pitch as well as they have, it’ll lessen the burden on the weaker offense and allow them to win more games with fewer runs.
Unlike previous years, this Mets team is poised to take a step forward in the second half of the season. It’s still unlikely that the improvement is big enough to step over the Braves and Nationals into October, but it’s not out of the question either.
Remember this? June 14th, 2008. The game would ultimately be rained out and the Texas Rangers would play Slip ‘N Slide on the tarp. Some WFAN callers would then criticize the Mets for not getting out there.