Wednesday, April 20, 2011
So far this season, the Mets are making me and any other fan/blogger/writer who had confidence in the team look like fools. That much is not debatable. Yes, it's only been 17 games. And a determination regarding the ultimate fate of the 2011 Mets (or any other team) can not be made after 17 games. However, if any team in the Majors needed a fast start, it was the Mets. How they've performed so far has not only been bad - their play at times has bordered on unwatchable. So, what should be done?
For one, it's important to note that negativity for the sake of being negative helps no one. If the fans show up at the ballpark every night and boo anything and everything, it won't help. Boo a lack of effort (of which there's been some), but nothing else. It puts the players on their heels. It undoubtedly makes them feel like garbage.
Would I be stunned if the Mets continued falling downward and spiraled into oblivion? No. Would I be stunned if the Mets won 7 games in a row? No.
The main problem with the Mets' 5-12 start is that it's the only sample size we have. If they had a stretch like this after beginning the year 26-21, people would be upset. They'd be disgusted. But they wouldn't be calling for an immediate firesale. Doing that after such a tiny sample size (no matter how brutal it's been) is foolish. The Mets aren't this bad. I think that's pretty apparent. So, what ails this team? What can be done immediately to alleviate some of the issues? Here are a few suggestions:
-Release Chin Lung Hu: Most fans have been saying this since day one. Hu has absolutely no value to the team. He's strictly a defensive replacement, who is not being used as a defensive replacement. His main value is as a shortstop, and the Mets have a shortstop who plays every inning of every game. Hu is completely overmatched at the plate, which has led some to pronounce that they'd rather pinch hit with RA Dickey. Hu needs to go. Now. Cut him and call up Nick Evans.
-Increase Pedro Beato's responsibility: Terry Collins intimated today that Jason Isringhausen is the team's 8th inning man, which is fine. However, the bridge to Izzy and Frankie must go through Beato. He's been the best arm in the pen so far, and has fantastic stuff. There's no need to baby him.
-Argue when horrendous calls go against you: This is for Terry Collins...the worst possible thing for the fans to get a sense of is apathy. And that's exactly what they sensed last night after a series of terrible calls against Josh Thole and an almost impossibly bad call at 2nd base doomed the Mets. It was the perfect time for Collins to get himself run, to maybe light a fire. At the very least, getting tossed there would've given the umps some pause...maybe they'd be a little less apt to screw the Mets. Just maybe. Next time that happens, I expect an explosion.
-Disprove the notion that the team is soft: Ever since 2006, there's been a belief that the team is soft. That they quit when they're down, don't go above and beyond, don't pitch inside, don't fight back when someone (an ump, an opposing player), bullies their team. That has to change. Winning solves everything. However, while this team is learning how to win, it's important to show that they have a chip on their shoulder. As Billy Joel says at the end of each of his concerts, "Don't take no shit off nobody." For the longest time, this team has not only taken it, they've fallen down and rolled around in it. That has to stop.
I'm confident that the Mets will turn this around. That they actually have talent. That there's absolutely no way they can continue to underperform to the level they have so far this season. If they improve, and do the four things listed above, the clouds will start to part. There will still be storms every now and then, but the daily sense of dread will go away. Their mission starts tonight, at home, against a brutal Houston team. Destroy them, please.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
In less than 24 hours, the Mets will take the field at home for the first time in 2011. Is it somewhat disappointing that the Mets will arrive home at 3-3 after starting 3-1. Yes. If I could've signed up for 3-3 after the first 6 games on the road (knowing that Josh Johnson and Roy Halladay were pitching two of the three), would I have? Yes. Can we base anything definitive off of the first six games of the season? No. Therefore, I'm not going to try. The Mets hit the ball well at times, not so well the rest of the time. They pitched brilliantly at times, not so brilliantly the rest of the time.
What I do know is this: Tomorrow around Noon, Mets fans will start trickling into the parking lots at Citi Field. I plan on leaving Brooklyn a bit after 12:30, so I should be there shortly after that. Mets fans will enter the lots with cars full of food, beer, and hope. Hope that the 2011 season may turn out to be special. No matter what happened in the seasons prior, or what the new season eventually turns into, there's always Opening Day at your ballpark.
During the offseason, it's common to pass the ballpark a few times on the highway, craning your neck as it disappears from view. It may be a brisk November day, a March day with snow still on the ground, or sometime in-between. Whenever you pass it, it's natural to wish that it was Opening Day, and not some Fall or Winter day that's completely devoid of baseball. Well, tomorrow is Opening Day. If you're one of the people who's lucky enough to be heading out to Citi Field tomorrow, remember that. Remember all the days from October through March where we would've given anything for there to be a Mets game to go to. Or a Mets game to watch. Or a Mets game to listen to.
As the parking lot morphs from empty concrete to a mass of fans dressed in orange and blue, and begins to smell like an enormous barbecue...as the smoke from the grills and the hops from the beers enters your nostrils, remember how you felt from October through March. Then remind yourself that it's April 8th, and the Mets are about to take the field at home for the first time this season. For those of you who will be partaking in the consumption of alcohol in the lots, remember to use Solo brand cups to conceal your drink - unless you want a ticket from an overzealous cop.
The pageantry will be on full display tomorrow at Citi Field, from the pre-game introductions to the unfurling of the giant American flag. The stands should be filled, and the fans should be loud. Tomorrow is not a time to attempt to draw conclusions off a 3-3 start, nor is it a time to dwell on 2009 or 2010 - or 2007 if you're still hung up on that. It's a time to simply enjoy the Mets. And revel in the fact that what you waited for all Winter is finally here. Baseball is back, and the Mets are home.
Monday, April 4, 2011
Since a definitive answer regarding the outcome of the Mets' 2011 season can't be gleaned from a three game sample, I was wrestling with exactly what I would write about today. At around 2 PM, Mike Francesa made my mind up for me. Mike Francesa isn't a King or a Pope (though he would lead most to believe he held one of those Title's with the way he talks down to people). No, Mike is not one of those things, nor can he tell the future. However, after three games and a 2-1 record, Mike Francesa has proclaimed the following about the 2011 Mets:
"The Mets aren't even a good team."
If the above information is accurate, the Yankees (at 2-1) aren't a good team either. Nor are the 0-3 Red Sox, the 0-3 Brewers, etc. What defines "a good team" after three games? Three wins? Three shutouts? I'm confused. But Mike continues spewing brilliance:
"Nobody in the World thinks the Mets are good, but that's OK."
Ah, so Mike has cleared it up for us! It's not that the Mets aren't actually "a good team," it's that "nobody in the World thinks" they're a good team. Cool. I know Mike takes up a significant portion of the gravity and air supply with the space he fills and the hot air he blows, but I don't think there's any way that statement can be taken as definitive. I think the 2011 Mets can be a very good team (again, can't make concrete judgments based on three games), but pushing that aside for a moment, aren't they at least a better team than the 2010 version? Mike?
"Are the Mets a better team than last year? No."
I see. The 2010 Mets, who sent out an Opening Day lineup that included Alex Cora, Luis Castillo, Mike Jacobs, Jeff Francoeur, Gary Matthews, Jr., and Rod Barajas, that had two rotation members who are currently not in the Majors (Oliver Perez and John Maine), were an equal or better squad than the 2011 Mets are or will be. Thanks for clearing that up, Mike. Makes total sense. Any more pearls of wisdom for us today?
"Well Mets fans, you'll always have Florida."
In a way, that's true. Mike was basically trying to tell all Mets fans that winning the Season opening series in Florida will be the high point of the season. What I take from the claim that "we'll always have Florida" is the following: Mets fans are a loyal bunch, as evidenced by the fact that their fans drowned out the fans of the Marlins in their own ballpark - nearly 2,000 miles from New York. It reminded me that we've done the same in Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, and San Diego (to name a few). It reminded me of why exactly the majority of Mets fans despise the Yankees. It's imbeciles and Yankee fans like Francesa, who think Championship's are owed to their team. Who bash the Mets even when there's nothing to bash. Who snicker under their breath at the supposed genius of their words - even though they sound like fools. Mike Francesa isn't actually a moron, but he also has his head placed firmly up his ass regarding his current opinion of the 2011 Mets.
If I could've gotten through to Francesa this afternoon, I simply would've discussed facts - by discussing The 2010 Mets' Opening Day lineup, bullpen, and rotation, and putting them up against the 2011 version. And if Francesa had the guts to answer honestly as to which team had better personnel, and a better chance to win, he would've looked like a fool. I emplore anyone who has the patience to attempt to reach him to use that strategy. If nothing else, It'll take up a bit of the time between now and the first pitch in Philly tomorrow night.