Over the past few heartbreaking seasons we have spent much time on this site debating the importance of ‘swagger.’ I have personally been a huge advocate of this. Some have agreed. Some have disagreed. There is something to be said about walking onto a field and displaying a sense of confidence.
As our Mets now sit alone atop the NL East I still don’t see us displaying that ‘swagger.’ And you know what? I like it.
The fact that we are in 1st only 3 weeks into a season is probably not cause to strut onto the field with an aura of invincibility. Four months from now? Perhaps. But not yet. I do admit that I like this new approach, an approach of almost uncertainty.
Our beloved 86 team demonstrated swagger and yes, even arrogance. Keith, Gary and company had the mindset that we deserved victory. No matter who our opposition was there was no way in hell we’d lose. Even our own skipper indicated this when he stated at the outset of the post-season, “We are the best team in baseball.”
But these actions resulted in the team putting extra pressure on themselves. The fact that we won 108 games during the regular season, the fact that we clinched the division early and won by 21 ½ games put us in an unusual spot. Based on the way we dominated all year anything less then a championship would have been unacceptable. If we had been the team to end the Red Sox curse would Doc and Darryl hold the same place in our hearts as they do now? The 86 Mets, due to their swagger–and rightfully so–acted almost in a sense of entitlement. We were almost–pardon the expression–Yankee-like.
Unlike their 86 counterparts, the 69 Mets were also confident but not in such a brazen way. That started at the top with Gil Hodges and his stoic, quiet belief in his players. Ed Charles never would have hauled off and decked an opposing player the way Ray Knight clobbered Eric Davis. Ron Swoboda never made fist-pumping curtain calls to incite the frenzied fans the way Gary Carter did.
That 86 team displayed in-your-face swagger and confidence. The 69 club exuded a more quiet swagger and confidence. Even the 06 club displayed some swagger. The 2010 Mets, thus far, seem a bit…unsure.
We came into this season with low expectations. Reyes had no spring training. We are still not sure exactly when Beltran will return. David Wright has struggled since the beaning last year and is on pace to strike out close to 175 times. Our ace–not Pelfrey, that other guy–came into the season returning from an injury. The ERA’s for our pitchers during spring training looked like Social Security numbers. Just tonight, after 21 games, our big off-season signing finally hit his first HR. We have complained about the cavernous dimensions of our home park…but yet we have the 2nd best home record in all of baseball. Already this year we have set the record for the 2 lowest attendance figures in the brief history of Citi Field. With each loss and each wrong decision, Jerry Manuel comes closer and closer to his head on the chopping block. Each injury results in fans screaming for the head of Omar on a blue and orange platter. Every time Roy Halladay wins, fans refer to Fred and Jeff ‘Coupon.’
David Wright has not assumed the role of team leader the way Keith did. Angel Pagan has not quite matched the excitement of previous lead-off hitters like Lenny or Mookie. Castillo is nowhere near as loved as another 2b-man named Backman. Pedro Feliciano does not even come close to the charismatic Roger McDowell.
Twenty one games is not long enough to form an opinion. Just how good are the 2010 Mets? We really don’t know yet. What’s interesting is that they themselves don’t know either. This will be a learning process for both fans and players alike. As this club matures and grows and develops–and maybe even competes for a pennant–we fans will be along for the ride. Who knows? Maybe before this thing is over we will see a couple of fist pumping curtain calls and, yes, maybe even swagger, too—Just for old times sake.