Opening Day is 3 ½ months away and we all know what to expect in 2011. Not a damn thing. Sandy Alderson has stated that it will be a season to observe, to listen and learn, and rebuild for the future. Safe to say not many of us have hope for next season. It’s December 2010 and already we have set our sights on Opening Day 2012, a mere 480 days away.
As we prepare ourselves for a long hard season we look at the Phillies who have assembled the best starting staff in recent memory and will easily cruise to a division title The Braves will battle for 2nd with the Marlins, just cause the Marlins always seem to be there. If we are able to finish at 500, I think many fans would consider the year a success.
But what if…
The one sure thing about Baseball is that there are no sure things. What this great game teaches us is the only thing we can expect is the unexpected.
Many players who spent their entire careers in oblivion have had their names etched alongside the greats due to heroic accomplishments in October. A 500 pitcher named Don Larsen. A decent HR hitter named Bobby Thomson. A light hitting 2nd baseman named Bill Mazeroski. A sure fielding 1b-man named Buckner. Expect the unexpected.
Even our own history is filled with great moments when they were least expected. One year the Mets won 73 games and finished 24 GB. We came into the following season not expecting anything to change. But things did change. We won 100 games, clinched the division by 8 (a turn around of 32 games in the standings) and went on to win the World Series. Tom Seaver went from 4 games over (16-12) to 18 games over (25-7) and brought home a Cy Young Award. An outfielder who was known to be a defensive liability, Ron Swoboda, made perhaps the greatest catch in team history.
One other time the Mets were stuck in a rut hovering above mediocrity. We won 83 games 3 straight seasons and coming into the following season nothing gave us reason to expect a change. Things did change, however. We actually won fewer games. 82. But that mark was good enough to capture the division in 1973.
In 86 we were led by Keith, Gary and Darryl. But it was Mookie who stole the show. In 06, it was not David, Jose or Carlos, but rather Endy.
I know this wont happen but what if….Just imagine for a moment if things did start happening.
Imagine David Wright cutting down on the strikeouts and finally emerging as team leader. Reyes and Beltran are in the final years of their contracts and will do their best to stay healthy and put up monster numbers. Imagine if Pagan continues to improve. Imagine if Pelfrey takes a big step forward. Imagine if Jon Niese makes great strides towards becoming a bona fide starter.
Now imagine if the Phillies stagger a bit. We all know the pressure to win when expectations are high can put on a strain on a team. Imagine if it’s the All-Star break and we are within striking distance–and now have a healthy Johan coming back.
Sure, none of this will happen, but what if?
Imagine if we battle the Phillies in September, but end up just falling short? Or maybe end up just missing the wild-card by 4 or 5 games?
If this was to happen wont we feel cheated? Cheated by a GM and ownership that was the laughing stock of the winter meetings? Maybe had we showed up in Orlando with more then $5 million we could have made a push for a Cliff Lee. Or Carl Crawford.
Perhaps instead of spending an exorbitant amount of time on coming up with Terry Collins, Alderson should have made a move for Uggla. Maybe we’ll regret not making a tweak here or there. Imagine if 2011 ends and we fall just short, realizing perhaps a Jayson Werth could have put us over the hump.
And imagine the sleepless nights that a successful 2011 would cause the Wilpons. What if Beltran and Reyes return to All-Star form and return the Mets to a legitimate pennant contender? Well that would sure screw up their plans to stay frugal.
But of course all of this is hypothetical. We know already that 2011 will be a lost season.
Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver once said, “You win pennants in the off-season when you build your team with trades and free agents.” Based on the Mets defeatist attitude this winter and the clear cut lack of desire to spend money, it’s obvious that “winning a pennant” anytime soon is not high on their agenda.
Baseball fans of all teams conclude every season with the expression, ‘Wait ‘till next year.’ Thanks to the Mets new approach we have coined a new expression: “Wait till the year after next year.”