Many a little leaguer has heard that phrase after a tough loss or season. Is it just the platitude of an overprotective adult, not wanting to see kids in pain and trying to shield them from the disappointment that real life often brings- or is it actually true?
Some folks will simplistically look at our record, compare it to last year and say the Mets were worse. As far as a Win/Loss record they would be correct. But isn’t how they lost and won just as significant in judging improvement as the actual result?
First let’s look at why we lost. It’s no big secret and almost everyone agrees it is the pitching. Our staff was in the bottom half of the league in ERA (4.19 21st) and top 10 in Runs allowed (742 9th). League average for ERA was 3.94 and runs allowed was 694. A Quick look at the hitting numbers tends to prove out the above. We were 12th in Runs Scored (718, League Average is 694) 6th in BA (.264, LA=.255) 14th in RBI (676, LA=660). The hitting was above league average in most every respect. Just not above average enough to offset the way below average Pitching. The Pitching that gave up 742 runs vs. our own 694. But to judge which direction this team is going, let’s look just a bit deeper than the record.
Let’s start off with the Pitching which has decidedly taken a downturn. In 2010 we were in the top 10 of ERA (3.78 7th, LA=4.07) and 23rd in RA (652, LA=710). So the Pitching definitely declined from 2010. Part of the reason is a Missing in Action Johan Santana, loss of a real closer in K-Rod halfway through the season, and downturns by both Niese and Pelfrey. Capuano would roughly equivocate to what Takahashi gave us (a decent 6 innings as a starter) and the rest was all in the Bullpen. A Bullpen that started from scratch this year.
Our Hitting in 2010 was hurt greatly by a missing, and when returned, ineffective and out of condition Carlos Beltran. It shows in the numbers quite well! We were 24th in RS (656, LA=710), 22nd in BA (.249, LA=.257) and 23rd in RBI (625, LA=676) So there was improvement on this team only not enough to offset the step back taken by our pitching staff. And that’s all well and good from a statistical standpoint, but by looking at the stats and not the games, you tend to miss what was the most important thing to happen this season. It is all because of one minor change to the position we call the MANAGER!
Our pitching was no doubt putting this team in the hole far too often and far too big for any reasonable team to overcome. Yet the Mets still managed to fight back hard enough to dig out of these holes on a nightly basis, only to see it blown by inadequate relievers. How many times did we come from behind and take a lead offensively only to see it evaporate the following inning by a pitcher who gave back whatever we achieved?
We had a great record in 2006-2008 and yet did not have the will and fight to finish strong at the end of games, and the end of the season to reach the glory that was expected. We called it a choke. Would you be able to say with a straight face that this team is the same?
Terry Collins went ballistic mid September long after the season was essentially over because he felt the team had given up. Something that was not the case as far back as early August and July, before the trades of K-Rod, Beltran and the eventual loss of Daniel Murphy.
You can look at the record all you want but the record will not show you the most significant development on this team this year! THEY DID NOT QUIT! And if they TRIED to quit the Manager would not sit still and allow it to happen! This is a remarkable change from the 07 and 08 seasons where we had the division locked up and choked as much as the Braves and Red Sox’s did this year. It shows an improvement in the hardest part of a team to improve. The MENTAL aspect of the game!
They are playing the game the way it is supposed to be played. The results are not showing this aspect, but if you have watched every game, there is no doubt that it is true.
You don’t have to be a great baseball player to play great baseball. Wally Backman, Lenny Dykstra, Mookie Wilson, and Sid Fernandez are never going to go down in the annals of baseball lore as great players, but they played the game hard, never gave up and fought every night. The REAL GREATS on your team are not the only ones that win games for you. We have a lot of players who fit that mold, and they have exhibited all the fight and attitude we came to attribute to the 86 champions! For that reason alone we should be proud and hopeful that the corner has been turned for this franchise. Yes, there needs to be improvement on this team. Most importantly in the Pitching department however with Harvey, Familia, Mejia, and Wheeler in the wings, Santana and Dickey returning, and a little more from Niese and Gee, this team could easily be playing for the Wildcard next year provided that fight and no-quit attitude remain.
Say what you want, but the biggest change I see from last year is this team used to wait for something good to happen and give up when something bad happened. This year they shrugged off the deficits and fought to make them go away. Giving one’s all is all we can ask of them. Many players gave us their all, some certainly did not, but those are the guys you replace this offseason. The regular position players played the game the way it was supposed to be played! To me, regardless of Wins or Losses, playing the game the way it is supposed to be played, is the most important part.
It is the attitude of this team that has improved and we have Terry Collins to thank for that.
Win or lose doesn’t matter. It is HOW they played the game that says this team is better than it was, even better than it was in 2007 and 2008.
It isn’t apparent on the stat sheet unless you dig down into it. It most certainly was apparent on the field, and that’s why you go to games to see what’s on the field, and not just what shows up in the scorebook afterwards!
This MMO Fan Shot was submitted by Mike (Metsie). If you have something to say, send your own Fan Shot to GetMetsmerized@aol.com.