Tempering Early Season Mets Expectations (NOT!)
I want to kick that football, I can see Lucy holding it. She’s promised not to pull it away, I know she’s promised before and still pulled it away, but she seemed really honest this time. I’m Charlie Brown, and I really really want to kick that football. I can visualize it in my mind, the feel of the ball on my toe, watching it glide through the uprights. I know it can happen.
As a Met fan the past few years have ended up with me lying on my rear end and Lucy holding the football while all the other boys and girls laugh at me. Every year I tell myself, no not this time, I won’t fall for it, and every year the lure of the football just sitting there is just too great.
The Mets are coming off two opening series victories against the Padres and the Marlins and a win last night in Philly. I’m thrilled, that football is looking awfully tempting. I may even purchase more than one set of tickets to Citi Field for my trip to NY this summer. Maybe I’ll even buy one of those snazzy new blue jerseys. Is it real? Is Lucy being genuine this time? She sure looks like she is.
The Marlins are a bad team but they’re not as bad as I thought. They are more flawed and young than they are bad. They have lots of talent but it’s a smorgasbord of ill fit and youth, and, well, I guess that does translate to being bad. But this kid Fernandez looks like the real deal, and Ruggiano may be more than a late blooming flash in the pan. Stanton is Stanton. If their high upside starters (currently on the DL) come back and are effective they could be even more annoying than the Marlin announcers.
The Padres on the other hand are not a bad team. They’ve had a rash of injuries and they’re missing their prized catcher (whose name sounds like a monster enemy of the Geats), but they’ll rebound.
The Phillies were supposed to be revitalized. They look old and Halladay does not look like Halladay.
There have been some exhilarating moments so far. The cold night of Harvey’s first start … honestly I haven’t felt that way watching a Met starting pitcher in a very long time. Gooden? Seaver? Harvey was that good. You watch games and you usually feel a sense of apprehension, some tension after a walk and a bloop … things tend to unravel. But there was none of that with Harvey the other night against the Padres, they couldn’t touch him, and the Phillies didn’t do much better. His confidence is palpable, his execution impeccable. Matt Harvey reminds me of Tom Seaver … there I said it.
When I talk to Yankee fans, Harvey is my friend Harvey, the Bensonhurst Bomber, he is even bigger than I am, he terrifies them. He won’t like it when I tell him you said Hiroki Koruda would twist him into a pretzel.
There have been other positive developments. Neise has been ace like, Cowgill has given us shades of Lenny Dykstra, Buck and Byrd have been clutch professionals. Parnell is throwing a 92 mph change-up and Murphy’s bat is on fire. Still I have reservations. Lucy has pulled that damned football away every time. Duda has looked overwhelmed in the field and it’s not just that he’s slow, he misjudges balls and takes poor routs. Maybe he’ll improve, maybe he’ll hit enough so we can trade him. Maybe he can hit a ton so we can tolerate his defense, we’ll know soon enough.
The bullpen has gone all Jeckyl and Hyde on us in the early going. Burke, Rice and Hawkins have been up and down in their first couple of appearances. Maybe we can chalk it up to the jitters, maybe they’ll settle down. Atchison has been a “scary old man” as my son described him but he’s performed as promised. That crazy sliderish breaking ball that Burke throws on the outside corner against righthanders was filthy on Sunday. It sure would be great if we had more than Familia in reserve though, Feliciano, Carson, and Mejia might make for nice additions later in the season if there’s a need. Maybe we can groom one or two more effective relievers in the meantime, maybe the BP will actually hold water this season and maybe that will make all the difference in the world given that our starting pitching has been other-worldly. Between Duda, Valdespin, and the farm maybe Sandy will even pull the trigger on a trade to shore things up in the event we start to struggle.
Last night’s win in Philly was great but it won’t get any easier with Lee going tonight. This three game set against a reloaded Philly lineup with Subway Sandwhich Howard and Chased Mutley back in the mix is big. We played these guys tough last year, hopefully it will carry over. They don’t scare me like they used to. I like this Met team, there’s a different feel to them, they don’t seem easily intimidated, and they aren’t nearly as “nice” as previous incarnations. John Buck in particular seems to have given this squad something of a backbone behind the plate, my eyebrows elevated noticeably the other evening when Buck had a discussion with Valdespin after Jordanny got caught taking too big a lead off first. He’s no Thole that’s for sure.
I think I’m going to go for it, I’m going to kick that football dammit … here I go …
About the Author: Matthew Balasis
I’ve been a Met fan since August 1969 when a fire resulted in the Red Cross placing my family on the 6th floor of a building in Willets Point. I could see Shea from our balcony and I knew something big was going on. I followed them through the dark years and the resurgence of the 80’s only (sadly) to miss the fall of 86 because I was in Boot Camp. I've been serving penance ever since in Minnesota where I'm an SLP. I've written a lot about the Mets in an effort to share with my kids (and anyone else who might listen), a sporting tradition that made much of my childhood worthwhile. Follow me on twitter: https://twitter.com/MatthewBalasis
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