Over the years there have been plenty of great 1-2 combinations: Ruth and Gehrig, Spahn and Sain, Jackie and Pee Wee, Mays and McCovey, Seaver and Kooz, Newman and Redford, Fielder and Cabrera, Bonds and…Huh? Newman and Redford???
In 1969, veteran Hollywood actor Paul Newman and relative newcomer Robert Redford teamed up to star in one of the greatest and most fun westerns of all time, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. A good portion of the movie centers around Butch and Sundance eluding a posse. Frequently throughout the film, Newman and Redford are shown peering out from a cliff or looking down into a canyon trying to determine who the leader of the pursuing posse is. On several occasions an agitated Butch asks his sidekick, “Who are those guys?”
As the Mets of late have come back to life, showing some fire in the belly and willingness to fight back, I can’t help but wonder if some of the National League looks at our roster and asks the same question Paul Newman posed to Robert Redford: Who are those guys?
Let’s be honest. Matt Harvey aside, Josh Satin, Dillon Gee, Bobby Parnell and Jeremy Hefner are not exactly household names. Many thought that John Buck and Marlon Byrd were out of baseball. Most experts, pundits and fans—myself included—knew without a doubt that 2013 would be a lost season. And the first 2 ½ months were downright abysmal and frustrating.
But a funny thing happened on the way to our can’t-miss 100 loss season. The Mets have started playing solid baseball.
It was May when, while honoring the future Hall-of-Fame closer for that other NY team, little Jeffy Wilpon commented, “Wish we could see you in the World Series. But I’m sure that’s not going to happen.” In spite of Mets ownership showing no support for their own product, this season is far from over. Wilpon’s lack of “believing” (pun intended) is downright disgusting.
Maybe little Jeffy should study Mets history. The Mets had no chance in 1969 either.
Just recently Brian Lewis of the Post brought up an issue some have started wondering about: Matt Harvey’s pitch-count. We are at the half-way point of the season and Harvey is up to 117 IP. Last year, between Buffalo and New York, Matt threw 169 1/3 innings. Currently he is on pace to toss 249. These are Sabathia-like numbers. And Sabathia is known as a workhorse, an innings eater at the end of his career. Harvey is a 24 year old kid with his entire career ahead of him.
Brian Lewis has a valid point. However, what perturbed me was he raised the issue about Harvey’s workload under the guise of the Mets being out of contention. Noah Jarosh of SB Nation argued his point of a limit on Harvey by writing, “With a post-season bid growing more unlikely by the day…” My question is Who are THESE guys? Did they go to the Jeff Wilpon School of Optimism?
Do I think the Mets can make the post-season in 2013? No way. Of course not. We have no shot. No chance. Right? Good, now that that’s settled consider this:
I’m not basing a 162 game season on a couple of weeks. However, the fact can’t be denied that the Mets have played some damn good baseball over the last two weeks. We’ve won 10 of our last 15. That’s 667 ball. There are still 82 games remaining. Plenty of time. If Harvey continues to pitch well and if Hefner and Gee can keep it together and if Zack Wheeler doesn’t get overwhelmed by the hype or messed up too much by Dan Warthen and puts up some good numbers, anything is possible.
The Mets have played .667 ball for two weeks. If we continue to do that for the rest of 2013, we will go 54-35 in the second half. That puts us at 89 wins for the year and at the doorstep of the post-season.
I’m not intoxicated as I write this. I haven’t been smoking anything funny. But here’s something else to ponder. The Mets are 35-45, 12 ½ GB of the Braves. 11 out of the wildcard.
Consider where we were exactly 40 years ago today. On July 3, 1973, the Mets got a serious butt-kicking at the hands of the Expos. We got soundly crushed, 19-8. In relief, Tug McGraw allowed 4 hits and 7 ER in 1 1/3 innings, raising his ERA to an astronomical 6.07. 75 games into the season—almost half-way through the year—Rusty Staub led the team in RBI’s with “whopping” 26. John Milner had 12 HR’s and only 2 guys, Felix Millan and Cleon Jones, were hitting over 280. The 19-8 drubbing to Montreal dropped the Mets to 33-42, dead last and 11 ½ games back. Yet things turned out pretty well for us.
Maybe Jeff Wilpon’s remark was correct…but in reverse. Maybe we’ll be there in October and Mariano’s Yankees wont.
Now, do I really expect us to play into late October? Do I see the 2013 Mets joining the 1969 club in the category of a Miracle? Can I picture champagne being sprayed in the clubhouse while Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson are being handed the World Series trophy by Bud Selig? No. No way. Of course not.
But I do know that there are 82 games remaining and anything can happen. Do we have a legitimate shot? I say we have as good a shot as we did in 69 or 73.
And maybe, just maybe, after this season, some American League club will be shaking their heads, scratching their chin, looking over at the celebration in the Mets locker room and asking themselves, Who were those guys?