It was a weird moment when I sat down on Wednesday evening and started thinking. I have been watching baseball since about 2001. I aspire to be a storyteller years from now. Someone who is knowledgeable and respected. But no matter how good the storyteller, and I am not too good yet, one needs material to talk about, no?
This is the 2012 season. I was worried, at the beginning of the season, that the fiftieth season in the New York Mets existence would be one of a forgettable nature. One that would make me cringe - a season that would make me want to give up on the ownership and front office. Now, the season has not gone anything like what I expected at all…and I mean that in more than one way. I could sit here and express my disappointment in the front office and Sandy Alderson, as I have before. But that is not the aim of this piece.
I wanted to write about why I was happy. Happy, you say? Yes, while you all laugh and call me crazy. This season could have gone miles better but it has not. Today is September 7th, and no matter how hard I wish, I can not reverse time or change the ideologies in the front office. So I found reasons to smile. Reasons that give me stories to tell fifty years from today.
- A Glimpse Into The Future: Josh Edgin, Robert Carson, Jeurys Familia, Matt Harvey, Jeremy Hefner, Collin McHugh, Elvin Ramirez, Zach Lutz, Jordany Valdespin, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis all broke into the MLB this season. Can you believe it? Edgin, Carson, Lutz, and Ramirez have the potential to be successful. Jeurys Familia lit up the radar gun in his first appearance and made it look effortless. Jeremy Hefner was a definite feel good story. Valdespin has gained my respect and I have always backed up Captain Kirk. Of course, Matt Harvey and Collin McHugh both dazzled and dropped jaws in their debuts, in what was truly a glimpse into the future of the Mets rotation.
- Those Little Moments: The first hit for Lutz, Valdespin, and Kirk. That first strikeout for the group of young arms. Vinny Rottino’s first career home run in the MLB and Wright’s 200th. Scott Hairston, Justin Turner, and Mike Baxter being awesome off the bench and Kelly Shoppach launching monster home runs. Who can undermine those special feel-good moments? I hear Baxter made quite the catch, too…
- Growth:Yes, simply put, growth. Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Dillon Gee, Daniel Murphy, Jon Niese, Ruben Tejada, and even Bobby Parnell at times. Do not hurt me for thinking Parnell is good in the seventh or eighth. He has a career ERA of 2.93 in the eighth inning with 83 strikeouts in 89 innings. I could have sworn that Dillon Gee kept us in almost every single game he pitched. Daniel Murphy has broken me into a slow clap showing me not only his improvement at second base, but the fact that he still has a pretty fluid swing. How about Ruben Tejada and his growth offensively and defensively? Duda is maturing and experiencing growing pains, but man, that power is there. Jon Niese, with the security of a long term deal, has settled down with consistency by winning 10 games for a second straight season while dropping his ERA almost a full run. And Ike Davis? Fighting through adversity, not giving up, and making adjustments. Ike is the man. Here’s a quote from Ceetar to exemplify what I’m saying: “Since the start of that streak on June 9th (through September first when I’m writing this), Ike Davis has been awesome. Specifically he’s been smashing the baseball as hard as anyone in the game. He’s hitting .270/.336/.573 in those 71 games. If he’d put up that slugging percentage for the entire year, he’d be 6th in all of baseball. Granted this is picking and choosing endpoints, but 71 games is nearly half a season and represents a sizable chunk of Davis’ major league career. He’s hit 20 home runs in those games, something that equates to 46 home runs over a full 162.”
- R.A. Dickey:He deserves a full article, does he not? RA is pitching like an artist right now – when was the last time a pitcher was feared while his top speed was 84 MPH? He deserves all the praise he is currently getting and he deserves the Cy Young award. Some argue that his one-hitter against the Rays was the best Mets pitching performance all year. He was snubbed for the all-star start. Am I biased? Yes. But respect the man’s story and all he has done to be here. RA Dickey is a hero to some people now. I will tell you something though… There is not a day that goes by that I do not wish I could have seen Seaver, Gooden, Fernandez, Darling, or Orosco pitch in person. But there will never be a day where I am not grateful that I got to witness RA Dickey’s 2012 season.
- Johan Santana: Speaking of heroes… I forgot somebody. I forgot the man who brought us manly tears and eternal bliss while etching his name into the history books. And our hearts, of course. Johan Santana threw a no-hitter for the Mets. There was uproar after the game – it was a one-hitter… Yeah, no. Nobody can take this no-hitter from me. Hat tip to Mike Baxter’s now legendary catch. If I do not sound excited enough, it is because I literally can not describe what this no-hitter means. For a night, the stars were aligned and everything was perfect…
And that’s exactly it. Tomorrow morning, I will wake up and still be disappointed with the front office and GM. But at least for today, I will smile. I will give credit to the men who deserve it. I will sing their praises. Even if I know they’ll never hear of it.