Archive for February, 2007

Angry on Behalf of Gil Hodges

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

The Veterans Committee of the Hall of Fame has decided not to let anyone in this year. 

Think about it.   7 consecutive seasons with more than 100 runs batted in.  9 seasons, 8 consecutive, with a slugging percentage over .500.  11 Seasons with more than 20 home runs.  6 of those seasons with more than 30 home runs.  2 of those seasons with more than 40 home runs.   Winner of the first 3 Golden Glove Awards for a first baseman.  A central figure on the greatest National League team of the 1950’s. 

The manager of the greatest baseball miracle team of all time. 

Go to the Hall of Fame website.  Click away.  Compare.  Don’t tell me Gil Hodges doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame.
 

Your Season Has Come?

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

The Mets have come up with our slogan for the year. 

Your Season Has Come.  No.

Come?  In the sense of having arrived?  That makes it sound like something a butler announces.  Who’s announcing this?  The team?  To whom?  To us?  Are they like telling us that our season has now arrived?  What were those other seasons all about?  Were they not our seasons?  Were they someone else’s seasons?  Were they their seasons?  What makes this one ours? 

There’s a fake grandeur to this.  Like, here it is, you fans you, on this platter.  We bring this to you.  You be happy.  Oh Mets, this one is for us?  Oh, you shouldn’t have!  Now you bring us this.  Why not before?  Was it waiting here for us, all along, waiting for us to get to 2007, so it could come to us?  Here it comes.    

Here comes our season. 

Come is not good in a slogan.  It’s too easy to think something inappropriate.  It’s too easy to make a joke.  Don’t make it too easy for Yankees fans.

Is it too late to come back to the drawing board? 

 

 

BIG BIG STORIES OUT OF FLORIDA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

A-Rod and Jeter don’t go out to DINNER as often as they used to!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Willie Randolph has all of these rings from playing and coaching on some other team.  Why is he wearing his 1977 ring?  Why 1977?  What does it mean?!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lastings Milledge doesn’t show up in camp BEFORE he’s scheduled to do so?  What can he possibly be thinking? 

Fred Wilpon decides that the Mets should try to win the World Series this year!!!  What could have led to this pronouncement???!  Does this reflect a change in policy?! Will Willie agree?!!  Stay tuned!!!


  

All of the prospects look really good!!!  But some of them won’t start the season with the Mets!!!  They need more time in the minors!!!


  

See this is why I find it hard to get into the pitchers and catchers thing.   I look forward to it every year, but then when it comes, I eagerly grab the newspapers to read …. stories like these.  Ehhhhhh. 

Our Chances of Success

Saturday, February 17th, 2007

So what are our chances of success this season? 

I think it is reasonable to say that the Mets have a 60% chance of winning the Eastern Division Title (I’ll give the Phillies a 25% chance, the Braves 10%, the Marlins 4%, and the Nats 1%). 

That gives the Mets, in my hopeful estimation, a 20% chance of winning the National League pennant this year (it would be 15%, if one gave every team that made it to the playoffs the same chance, but I think that our odds are a little higher than that because I think that we’ll be better than the average team that makes it to the playoffs, for all the good that will do us, look at the 2006 Cardinals). 

And that gives them, realistically, since anything can happen in the Series and there are a lot of fine teams in the American League, a 10% chance of winning the 2007 World Series.

Does that give us a 10% chance of having a successful season?  No, obviously.  If it did, we would not still be doing things like reading Mets blogs. 

A successful season, in my book, is a season in which: a) you like the guys on the team and therefore enjoy watching them play; and b) you have hope, because you are in plausible contention at least into September.  I remember a lot of seasons in which we have had a) but not b).  I’d call them fun seasons.  I enjoyed rooting for the Al Jackson Mets and the Steve Henderson Mets, though I’m not going to call those seasons successful.  But I am going to call 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2006 successful.  You bet I am. 

So what are the chances that we’ll have a)?  100%.  A great bunch of guys can’t turn into assholes overnight.  What are the chance that we’ll have b)?  I think 90% is a fair guess. 

So, folks, you heard it here.  We have a 90% chance of having a successful season this year.

And a 10% chance of winning the World Series.
 

Gearing Up

Friday, February 16th, 2007

Well I’m gearing up for a season of hard and heavy blogging.  My Mets book is done and I’ll have the time to focus and to write.  I will do my very best this season to entertain you with fine writing, offbeat humor, and cute pictures.  But this is not the only place you’ll find me on the Web this season.  In addition to keeping up this blog, I’ve decided to become a guest contributor to three other blogs.  I’m sure you already know about one of these.  All denizens of the Mets blogosphere know about Mike’s Mets, the superb blog mainly written and entirely managed by Mike Steffanos (you know, the guy who has the sweet picture of himself with his dog, and who also has a particularly graceful prose style and knows more about the Mets than I will ever know).  I’ve signed on to contribute an occasional column for Mike and I am very grateful to him for having me. 

Another place you’ll find me this year is a brand new Mets site and forum that has its launch today.  Flushing University is the brainchild of Mike McGann, Gary Gepner, John Lowe, Rob K., and Deb Mc.  The site and forum will be structured like a real university, dedicated to learning and promoting civil, informed, troll and moron-free discourse about the New York Mets.  I love this idea.  As a genuine college professor, I am anxious to see if they can bring to the Mets world all of the things that are good about universities, and none of the things that are, well, annoying.  I will be writing a weekly column for Flushing University, which will appear on Thursday.  Other prominent members of the Mets blogging community who have been recruited to serve on the faculty of Flushing U. include Shari Forst of “Take the 7 Train,” John Coppinger of “Metstradamus,” and Matt Himelfarb of “Metsproject.”   This promises to be a lively and interesting place all season long so please check it out and please contribute.

Finally, I’ve also signed on as a monthly contributor to New York Baseball Online, a lively e-zine devoted to the Mets and the Yankees.  I will be contributing Mets content during the first week of every month (they won’t let me write about the Yankees, it seems) and I may get the chance to “appear” on their radio program that will debut on March 26 on WGBB 1240 AM. 

Links to all of these places may be found in the column to the right. 

Mets Fan Blog will still be my main home and this is where I will do most of my writing.  I will also link from here to anything I write for these other blogs.

So, as pitchers and catchers report to camp, as the ground is covered with a thick layer of ice, let’s all remember that we are only about six weeks away from the opening of a season of the sweetest baseball. 

 

Cheese Stakes

Saturday, February 10th, 2007

 

Since 1800, New York has always been the largest and Philadelphia has usually been the second largest city in the eastern part of the United States.   The two cities are only about 90 miles apart.  Their metropolitan areas flow into each other.  They should be natural rivals in everything.  Yet there has never been a baseball rivalry between New York and Philadelphia, at least not in living memory.  The Yankees have given New York a baseball rivalry with Boston and Baltimore.  The Mets have had their epic rivalries with St. Louis, Atlanta, Chicago, and even Pittsburgh.  But New York has never had a baseball rivalry with Philadelphia, the city that should be its most plausible natural rival.          

The reason for this is that the Mets and the Phillies have never been good at the same time.  Not in 45 years.  This is amazing when you think about it.  The greatest era of the Phillies, the late ‘70s, was one of the worst eras in Mets history.  The Phillies were usually not much in the great Mets eras of the early seventies, the eighties or the late nineties.  They were the only team with which we did not compete for the 1973 NL East division title.  The closest the Mets have ever come to an actual rivalry with Philadelphia was, I guess, 1976, when the Phillies won the division by winning 101 games and the Mets finished third with 86 wins, 15 games out.  That’s as close as the two teams have ever come to each other when at least one of them was in serious contention?!  Pretty much.  The Mets and Phillies were only 12 games apart in 1987, but the Mets were in second and the Phillies were in fourth and so they weren’t thinking about each other.  Speaking about not thinking about each other, here’s a trivia question for you.   What team finished second in the NL East in 1986, 21.5 games behind the Mets?

This is all about to change.  When I look at the NL East, I see the potential for a truly exciting rivalry with Philadelphia.  Their lineup is almost as powerful and their starting pitching is only a little more questionable than ours.  I’d bet on the Mets but either team could take it.  I’m picking the Mets to win 94 and the Phillies to win 90 games. 
           

This will be cool.  Philly is just a short train ride away.  We can go to their games.  I love Philly and I love to have an excuse for going there.  I love the well-preserved old architecture, the Reading Terminal Market, the world-class museums and restaurants, especially a funky little place in South Philly called Victor Café which serves great Italian food and the waiters are all opera singers who entertain you with arias.  If you have to battle to the baseball death with some city, better a great nearby city like Philly than a city with a big McDonald’s arch or a spanking-new and boring Southern suburb. 

So let’s have an old-fashioned regional pennant race, the sort of things they get to have in California or around the Great Lakes all the time.  Let it be cheese steaks against pastrami, a battle of the Jersey Turnpike, high noon in Princeton.  Sure I liked it last year when the Mets took off like a shot and no one came close.  But I won’t expect that this year.  I’m expecting the Mets to be as good, and the rest of the division to be better.  I’ll take Mets dominance again if it comes.  But I think it is wisest to set my expectations as low as I can.  So I’m gearing up for it.  I’m psyched.  And watch out, the antipasto platter at Victor’s is enough for everybody at the table.
 

Pitchers and Catchers

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

Nobody wants to hear this, but two whole months remain until the baseball season starts.  I say this because everybody is getting starry-eyed about the approach of pitchers and catchers.  The season ends and people say “only three and a half months until pitchers and catchers.”  At holiday time, people say “only a month and a half until pitchers and catchers.”  Not “until pitchers and catchers report to camp ahead of everybody else.”  Just “pitchers and catchers.”  It’s like some magic catchphrase, with its own poetic rhythm.  Pitchers and catchers.  Butchers and bakers.

You know how when you’re waiting on line outside a building and you think, “once I just get inside the building, I’ll be almost there” and you get inside the building and you see that this is just the beginning of the wait because there’s this big waiting area where the line is compressed into a tight coil you will have to snake through for the next god-knows-how-long?  Well we’re about to get into the building. 

We’re about to intensify what we’ve been doing for the last three months.  We will look over and over at the guys we’ve got.  We will look over and over at the guys we don’t have and at the guys they’ve got.   Why are we doing this?  What we seem to be doing is trying to determine, with the maximum amount of precision, just how much hope we think it is reasonable to have.  That’s all we’re doing.  That is the only reason to keep looking at the numbers, to keep reading reports from winter leagues.  We’re trying to determine how hopeful or how frightened we should be.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that this makes no sense at all.  Because even if you had read every scouting report, every newspaper report, every blog entry, and every statistical breakdown, you still would have no idea at all about how the Mets will do this season.  Too many things can happen that you know you can’t know about now.  That’s why you are a baseball fan.  You like the unpredictability.  Therefore, when they start playing baseball, you will hope as much as you want to hope no matter what the statistics and scouting reports tell you.  What you are doing right now is a waste of your time. 

Logically, this is true.  But we will do what we’re doing anyway.  Because the real point is not to determine how much hope we should have.  The real point is to have the fun that is involved in developing a sense of how much hope we should have.  You’re going to throw away what you’re building in your mind, as soon as the season starts.  But the fun is in the building of the hope and in the happiness that comes from changing the amount you hope, as things develop.   

And then, if things go well, and you get to the end of the next regular season and things have turned out well and the Mets have won about 100 games and are way ahead of everybody, nothing you have seen in the season, nothing you know about any of the teams, nothing you know about anything, will give you any way to even begin to guess who is going to win the World Series. 

So go ahead, read, calculate, compare, and make your predictions.  It will give you something fun to do as you move slowly in the line in the lobby of the building.   It won’t help you understand anything but it will keep you busy.  And it will make you happy.  For two months?