Stormtrooper Terry

Stormtrooper Terry

Monday, July 9, 2012

Mets Monday - At the All-Star Break

Expectations are a funny thing. Among some of my friends, we have a saying: "Lower your expectations accordingly and you'll never be disappointed." For example, are you one of the people who complained that the Transformers movies had weak plots? They're Michael Bay movies about giant robots; lower your expectations. Complaining that Strike Back, the Cinemax original series, has too much sex and nudity mixed into the action and isn't as highbrow as what you might see on HBO? It's produced by the show whose nickname is Skinemax; lower your expectations.

With that lesson in mind, I went into the 2012 Major League Baseball season with significantly lowered expectations for my beloved Mets. Honestly, I expected them to win around 60 games for the season and lose the other 102. So you can imagine my delightful surprise when, at the All-Star break right now, they have a record of 46-40 and are in third place in their division, only 4.5 games out first. That's right, a team I thought would just be losing all over the place is right in the middle of things. Lowered expectations, folks, means nothing but good news.

Let's look at some of the highlights from this season so far: Santana throws the first no-hitter in Mets history and Dickey has one of the most dominant first halves for a pitcher that I've ever seen, getting him put on the All-Star Team (and as I've just read he isn't starting the game, my long-held theory that Tony LaRussa is an utter assclown is proven true) as the Mets easily have one of the top starting rotations in the National League. David Wright is having an MVP-caliber season both at the plate and on the field, making the All-Star team again (and not starting, proving that the whole fan-voting system might not be the best idea in the world). Maybe better than all that, though, is that this is a team predominantly filled with homegrown young players who might fuck up sometimes but play hard all the time, play to the last out all the time, and are just flat-out fun to watch.

So what do the Mets need as they go into the second half of the season? The starting rotation is fine, but they do need help in the bullpen... although I think a trade for an arm is unlikely since there are some hot prospects in the minors who should be able to help. What the Mets, as a predominantly left-handed hitting team, need a dangerous right-handed hitter. A lot of people think Jason Bay will provide that when he comes off the DL; when you consider how he's played for the first two-and-a-half years he's been with us, well, here was Terry Collins' reaction to the idea of Bay helping the team out:

"That's a good one. No, really, we need a right-handed hitter. Seriously."

What this team really needs, though, is just for their young players to grow into the game. Right now they're having the problem most young players in their first year or two: they struggle with consistency. Sometimes they play like a championship caliber team... and other times they're completely lifeless. That's why, even after such a great first half where they might have been the most surprising team in baseball*, I'm still keeping my expectations lowered as we go into the second half: I'm not expecting the championship, just a few more months of fun and exciting baseball.

Still, lowered expectations or not... you gotta believe.

*Perennial lame-duck team the Pittsburgh Pirates, at eleven games over .500 and in first place in their division, are probably an even bigger surprise. This one goes out to the inimitable Jabba the Black, a.k.a. Chris: "Go Pittsburgh!"


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