The blog for Mets fans
who like to read

ABOUT US

Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

Got something to say? Leave a comment, or email us at faithandfear@gmail.com. (Sorry, but we have no interest in ads, sponsored content or guest posts.)

Need our RSS feed? It's here.

Visit our Facebook page, or drop by the personal pages for Greg and Jason.

Or follow us on Twitter: Here's Greg, and here's Jason.

Like Never Before

“It is a vital part of American sports that the present is tethered to the past,” Tim Layden recently wrote in Sports Illustrated. As a line of thinking, it’s completely understandable and not necessarily undesirable. If we’re any kind of long-term fans, we root for whom we root because we’ve rooted for whom we’ve rooted. We connect what are seeing to what we’ve seen. It provides us with a common shorthand. We know what we’re talking about if we can speak with some certainty on what has preceded the moment in which we currently exist. Precedent provides us with a comfortable cushion.

But there are times when its utility is limited. Adjust it all you want, it won’t give you all the back support you seek. Sometimes, you just have to lean forward. Sometimes, as Benjamin Franklin explained the idea of American independence to a doubting Continental Congress colleague in 1776, “It’s a new idea, you clot! We’ll be making our own precedent!”

In 2015, as our team was declaring its independence from the shortcomings of the immediate past, we saw Dr. Franklin’s notion in action. What the Mets did was something somewhat similar to what we had seen, but when you got right down to it, it was as new and novel as it was wondrous and wonderful. Thus, in recognition of the freshest of Metropolitan accomplishments, we designate Precedent — Or The Lack Thereof as our Nikon Camera Player of the Year, the award bestowed upon the entity or concept that best symbolizes, illustrates or transcends the year in Metsdom.

Precedent is a useful tool, yet it has its limitations. In 2015, it went only so far in helping us understand the season it seemed we were always trying to make sense of. We reflexively reached back and constructed cases for how this or that situation was just like that or this episode from our past.

Except it almost never was.

This is not to say there weren’t elements of 2015 that legitimately brought to mind certain touchstones. Unless you had just wandered into Mets fandom, of course you were going to view the goings-on at least partly through the prism of what you knew. An entity with 53 years of history behind it is sprinkled with examples applicable to any given moment unfolding in its 54th. But after a while, there was no stringing them together. 2015 wasn’t “just like” any Met year that preceded it. It was, when all was said and won, its own thing.

And it wasn’t so many other things.

2015 wasn’t 1962, when everything about the Mets was literally new. Nobody was seriously comparing the first and latest iterations of Mets baseball, but I’ll cop to drawing a parallel in a fit of frustration in May. The Mets had just lost in Pittsburgh, 9-1, which looked pretty bad, especially considering that the very first triumph the very first Mets managed was a 9-1 win in Pittsburgh. When you have a “1962 Mets” in your portfolio, you’re inevitably going to pull them out to make a point once in a while. The 2015 Mets outwon their Originators by 50 victories, so — 9-1 symmetry notwithstanding — Met-a culpa from me.

2015 wasn’t 1984, which was the popular preseason wishful thought for what 2015 might be. Despite the plethora of young pitchers, the invigorating turnaround and the 90-win total, 2015 exceeded second-place 1984 in the standings. 1984 peaked in late July. 2015 was just getting going.

2015 wasn’t 1972, even with the successful early-season launch and the string of debilitating injuries. The two teams shared eleven-game winning streaks before Memorial Day and a crowded disabled list well into summer, but whereas the 1972 Mets flailed without their regulars, the 2015 Mets persevered while healing.

2015 wasn’t 1970, when extremely capable Met pitching was undermined by hitters using (in the words of SI’s Alfred Wright) bats “made of Styrofoam and rolled up copies of the Daily News.” It felt that way in May and June, but offensive help was on its way.

2015 wasn’t 1996, when outstanding Met pitching disintegrated before it could truly materialize. Generation K became the default cautionary tale for every time we got our hopes up in arms because the Big Three of its day — Bill Pulsipher, Jason Isringhausen and Paul Wilson — never got the chance to function as a trio. Pulse missed the 1996 season. Izzy and Paul struggled and then disappeared onto the DL. There’d be no critical mass of homegrown pitching for more than a decade and a lingering sense that you couldn’t count on young pitching to carry you because, well, look what happened last time we tried that. In 2015, we didn’t have Zack Wheeler, but we had everybody else. However good we imagined Generation K would become, it wasn’t as good as what Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard became (with Steven Matz not too far off the pace).

2015 wasn’t 2014, which should have been evident after the 13-3 spurt that started April, but once things got a little dicey, it was very tempting to slip into another rendition of “same old Mets”. Except they weren’t.

2015 wasn’t 2010, a mostly forgotten club that briefly rose to eleven games above .500 and clung barnacle-style to the side of the National League Wild Card race until late July. They headed across the continent and — following a 2-9 swing through San Francisco, Phoenix and Los Angeles — sank from contention’s view. It was the most extreme example available of how the Mets “always” crumble on the West Coast. In 2015, the Mets teetered on the edge of potential extinction entering July, traveled to California, won four of six from the Dodgers and Giants and came home to sweep the Diamondbacks.

2015 wasn’t 2004, the year Fred Wilpon targeted for playing (and you know this one by heart) “meaningful games in September”. There is meaning in every baseball game, but the team finishing 71-91 has substantially less significance attached to the final sixth of its schedule than the team en route to raising a divisional flag.

2015 wasn’t 2007, no matter how much instinctual fretting we succumbed to as August became September. The 2007 Mets held a formidable lead and mishandled it. The 2015 Mets held a formidable lead and expanded it.

2015 wasn’t 2008, the most recent winning season before this one. The 2008 Mets sagged in spring (42-44) and surged in summer (40-19), only to sputter in fall (7-10). The 2015 Mets worked their trajectory — 15-5; 21-32; 16-13; 38-22 — a little more effectively. It also didn’t hurt that the ’15ers swept three of three from their primary rivals, the Nationals, in early September, whereas the ’08ers lost two of three to the then-dreaded Phillies at approximately the same time of year.

2015 wasn’t 1981, not even in the sense that it felt like the Mets were playing a split season this year: the first marked by pre-Cespedes sluggishness, the second saved by post-Cespedes slugging. In 1981, everybody played two mini-seasons because of the strike that knocked 50+ games from everybody’s midsummer docket. The 1981 Mets were dreadful in their first half-season (17-34-1), competitive enough to dream in their second. They even dramatically swept the first-place Cardinals that September the way the 2015 Mets dramatically swept the second-place Nationals this September. But those Mets of 34 years prior couldn’t maintain their brief momentum and their spirited run (24-28-1) was all but lost to history. If only Frank Cashen could have traded for Yoenis Cespedes, who, it should be stressed, wasn’t born until 1985.

2015 wasn’t 1998, when the Mets were highly active before and at the trading deadline. The Kelly Johnsons and Juan Uribes of seventeen seasons before were Lenny Harris and Tony Phillips. The role of Mr. Cespedes was played by Mike Piazza. There were Willie Blair and Jorge Fabergas added along the margins à la Eric O’Flaherty. The ’98 Mets got busy swapping sooner than their successors, but it didn’t do them quite as much good, as they pulled up one game shy of a Wild Card (though that Piazza feller stuck around a spell).

2015 wasn’t any of the aforementioned years, not to mention any year in which the Mets missed the postseason. Once the Mets clinched their sixth division title and eighth playoff berth, the comparison to any campaign that didn’t extend meaningfully into October was rendered moot.

At least on the surface, then, 2015 had something in common with 1969, 1973, 1986, 1988, 1999, 2000 and 2006. But was it “just like” any of those years? Was there definitive precedent for what we just experienced embedded somewhere between nine and forty-five years earlier?

In the regular season, 1969 reared its beautiful head a few times. It was the last utterly unanticipated playoff year; who was going to pick a team that was coming off seven consecutive losing records? The eleven-game winning streak evoked ’69’s first coming of age milestone. Cespedes was Donn Clendenon (but more so). The Nationals were Durocher’s Cubs (but less so). Harvey, deGrom and Syndergaard pitched something like Seaver, Koosman and Gentry. Chris Heston and Max Scherzer stymied these Mets like Bob Moose blankety-blanked those Mets. Veteran third basemen wearing No. 5 provided their own kind of spiritual leadership then and now. 1969 had a black cat. 2015 had a rally parakeet. Both pennants were won in a sweep. Second baseman Al Weis against Baltimore (.455/.563/.727) provided a postseason template for second baseman Daniel Murphy against Chicago (.529/.556/1.294).

The Mets won the World Series in 1969. They didn’t in 2015. Even if they had, would have “2015 Mets” become an aspirational avatar for underdogs everywhere for generations to come? Magical baseball and miraculous feats have intermittently occurred from 1970 forward, but there was only one full dose of Mets Magic and only one Miracle Mets. 1969 is a lot to ask any successor to live up to.

We had to Believe in 1973. We had to jump-start an injury-riddled enterprise. We had to get hot at just the right moment and stay hot just long enough. We did and we were rewarded almost totally for it. That sounds a good bit like 2015. What doesn’t? 1973’s team got lost along the way but didn’t come out of nowhere. That was a blend of experienced 1969 hands and solid additions who’d come on board between pennants. Had the ’73 Mets stayed healthy throughout their campaign, they might have won the N.L. East fairly handily…in which case, they wouldn’t be the ’73 Mets whose legend we fire up when it suits our purposes.

In more mundane terms, the 2015 Mets were never as buried as the 1973 Mets were, even if it felt like it. The Mets of last summer were never as many as five games out of first place and they never dipped below second. The 1973 Mets were in last on the last morning of August and wallowed 12½ out in July. Their path to a divisional and league championship was tortuous. That they succeeded in traversing it is why we invoke them continuously. There was a taste of what they did in 2015, to be sure, but not necessarily a heaping helping.

The 1986 and 2015 Mets shared the same dizzying record after sixteen games, each based on winning eleven in a row. The ’86ers barely paused thereafter. They were 20-4 on May 10; 44-16 on June 16; 60-25 on July 17; 108-54 on October 5. You could be extremely confident that 1986 was going to be the Mets’ year coming off of 1985 and have no doubt whatsoever well in advance of the All-Star break. The 2015 Mets fell to earth for most of three months before resuming their April powerhouse ways in August. It worked for them just fine. But they were not in 1986’s stratosphere (nor were they populated by as many fascinating individuals). Also, there’s the little matter of the World Series and how only one team lost Game One by one run and Game Two by six runs and won Game Three by six runs as prelude to taking the whole enchilada.

Mike Scioscia obscured everything good about 1988, of which there was plenty. They had a resounding start and a spectacular finishing kick that separated themselves from their worrisome competition. They had aces going practically every night and they were bolstered by a born hitter plucked from the minor leagues in the second half. They even had a homegrown closer who, for a change, didn’t unleash butterflies in the Metsopotamian stomach. The 2015 Mets — featuring Michael Conforto and Jeurys Familia — won ten fewer games than the 1988 Mets of Gregg Jefferies and Randy Myers (among many talented others), but the 2015 Mets didn’t run into a Scioscia on the way to late October.

In 1999, peril lurked as an eight-game losing streak shoved the Mets’ won-lost mark a game below .500. In 2015, discomfort reigned when seven straight losses left the Mets a game below .500. The 1999 Mets dramatically altered the course of their season by firing coaches and winning 40 of their next 55. The 2015 Mets stayed the brain trust course and muddled along for a while before igniting their fuse. Both Met editions were extremely entertaining at their peak, but the 2015 club produced a relatively staid narrative compared to the twists and turns of 1999. Nothing wrong with being extremely entertaining, however.

The 2000 Mets lost the World Series in five games after winning a tight NLDS and a less stressful NLCS. Sound familiar? It should, though until October, there wasn’t all that much that bound 2000 to 2015. 2000’s Mets were a Wild Card, thanks to their inability to dethrone Atlanta. 2015’s Mets overthrew the defending divisional champs in one fell swoop. The 2000 team had pretty good starting pitching. The 2015 rotation announced its presence with authority. The 2000 Mets already had their Piazza. The 2015 Mets had to get theirs at the deadline. The 2000 Mets were coming off a season when they came achingly close. The 2015 Mets emerged from a void. The 2000 Mets transmitted the sense they had unfinished business. The 2015 Mets played with house money. That they both wound up with the same hand at the end seemed more coincidental than inevitable.

David Wright played for the 2006 and 2015 Mets, so there’s definitely that. Both teams enjoyed fast starts. The 2006 team never looked back. The 2015 crew gave up their first-place lead twice. Both teams could put together a sturdy lineup, but the ’06 Mets hit all year long. It took until September for the 2015 Mets to deploy their best eight-man unit — encompassing a healthy Wright, Duda, Murphy and d’Arnaud alongside Cespedes and Conforto plus Granderson and Flores — all at once. The 2006 Mets didn’t ever depend on an Eric Campbell or a John Mayberry to anchor the middle of their order. The ’06 Mets swept a playoff series, just like the ’15 Mets did, but, because of what came next, it didn’t resonate. The 2015 Mets got to the stage the 2006 were supposed to get. David probably had a better post-NLCS experience this time around.

Let’s take this exercise back to 1969 for a moment, via the night of September 9, 2015, the third and final game of the Mets’ series at Nationals Park. Stephen Strasburg was outdueling Jacob deGrom, as the Mets trailed Washington, 2-1. With Strasburg having struck out twelve through seven innings, Howie Rose suggested what the Mets needed to lead off the eighth was a Ron Swoboda, immediately explaining to those who didn’t get the reference that Steve Carlton was in the midst of striking out nineteen Mets one September night in 1969, but Swoboda hit two homers and the Mets improbably pulled that long-ago game out. As if on cue, pinch-hitter Kelly Johnson launched his own missile right at the heart of the opposing pitcher’s gem. He sent a ball over the fence that tied the game at two and essentially rendered Strasburg’s effort moot.

“Who needs Swoboda?” Rose asked excitedly in an instant of — for him, especially — near-blasphemy. “The Mets have Johnson!”

Lesson, perhaps: Precedent can only get you so far. Present is what you need in the here and now. The Mets of 2015 stocked theirs with moments that brought them farther than anyone could have expected, moments that will last in the Metsian consciousness for as long as anybody chooses to care about this franchise.

If the mind jumped during 2015 to some other Met year, that was a reasonable reflex. It’s great to nurture that thread. It’s also great to extend the thread. Someday, Mets fans will witness a player come over from the other league, put the team on his shoulders and say we’ve got another Cespedes (before Cespedes was allowed to leave as a free agent). Someday, Mets fans will watch a pretty decent hitter raise his game exponentially for a week in October and say we’ve got another Murphy (before Murphy went and signed with our archrivals). Someday, Mets fans will be awed by incandescent young pitching and say we’ve got another Thor and Jake and Dark Knight (who were something else when they were together for however long they stayed together). Someday, a Mets team will do glorious things and win more than was previously dreamed and Mets fans will say, gosh, this is like 2015 — maybe not “just like” 2015, but it sure feels similar. It won’t be exactly the same; it never is. It doesn’t have to be, which I think we learned all over again in the year just past.

We made our own precedent in 2015. It was a helluva thing.

FAITH AND FEAR’S PREVIOUS NIKON CAMERA PLAYERS OF THE YEAR

2005: The WFAN broadcast team of Gary Cohen and Howie Rose
2006: Shea Stadium
2007: Uncertainty
2008: The 162-Game Schedule
2009: Two Hands
2010: Realization
2011: Commitment
2012: No-Hitter Nomenclature
2013: Harvey Days
2014: The Dudafly Effect

27 comments to Like Never Before

  • Art

    All excellent points and I agree with you down the line for on field comparisons. Unfortunately, off-field we remain stuck with the lying ownership of the Wilpons.

  • Steve Burd

    While I’m extremely disappointed with the Mets’ moves this hot stove season, I’m even unhappier with the club for failing to explain itself. I haven’t seen a single comment from management about the fans’ anger over the team’s most recent acquisition. I’d feel much better, if they’d tell fans to be patient because they have other moves in mind. But perhaps they don’t have other moves in mind, so they have nothing to say.

    • Without Alderson out front for the time being, it’s hard to feel anybody is steering the ship, but even if Sandy was on active duty (and may he be fully recovered in short order), I doubt the Mets would be in explanatory let alone apologetic mode. They are going to frame what they have done as well-considered baseball moves aimed at positioning their team for the season ahead. As would any other team in December.

      Last year gave me confidence that somebody there knows what he’s doing, even if it doesn’t always seem that way while the doing is underway. I was also reminded a roster, like fashion (per The Social Network), is never finished.

    • Eric

      Perhaps Mets management believes Conforto, d’Arnaud (who eventually may change positions), Plawecki, Nimmo, Smith, and Herrera (am I missing any of the arrived/imminent top position prospects?) are ready to make the leap within 1-3 years, and they’ll all spark like the young stud starters and closer, therefore, they prefer placeholders like Walker and Cabrera over long-term position-blocking commitments to big-splash free agents.

  • Dave

    Thanks Greg, for so eloquently framing what I came to see the 2015 Mets season as, which is to say unlike any of the 53 that proceeded it. 2015 is instead the type of greatest hits box set many of us get for Christmas, some of the best bits and pieces of 69 and 99 and 06 and 73 and 84 and others.

    Right now we’re all pissy for what we have added and lost since the season ended, and we’re allowed to be. But we entered 2015 with no reasonable way of knowing what would happen. We know just as little of 2016 right now, so there’s that.

  • Thanks for the thought-provoking piece. It was a nice little something to find under the tree. I’ve been an occasional reader and first-time commenter.

    My own thoughts this past year drifted back to 2000 quite often — not necessarily for the arc of the season as much for my sense that this club, like that one, found themselves performing better than they really had a right to, given the roster composition. Who really could have expected what we got from Cespedes or the newly-departed Murphy based on their pasts? Toss in Gilmartin, Reed & company and the resurgence of Grandy and memories of Jay Payton, Agbayani, and Todd Pratt kept surfacing.

    I hadn’t thought of ’98 and Piazza and the trade deadline activity, but that, too, seems apt.

    • You make a good case for 2000, though I’ve always felt the 2000 postseason outfield is unfairly characterized as a quirk of some kind. In the moment, Agbayani was an accomplished hitter, Payton was a top rookie and Perez was a bolt of lightning who, until that fateful moment in WS Game One, had never done anything wrong. It was a better outfield for 2000 than the unit that began the season (Henderson, Hamilton and Bell, though Bell was on fire until late May). But both teams did have confidence-inspiring supporting casts, which set them apart from the years when the bench was thin and the starters weren’t exactly bulging with talent.

  • Rochester John

    If it were up to me, Murph, you’d still be a Met. I understand your hurt feelings that you’re not. But the Nationals, Murph? Really?

    • The man looked under his tree, probably saw the only package was from Washington and went with it. I hope he enjoys three happy also-ran seasons.

      • Eric

        It would have been nice for Murphy to sign with the Yankees so Mets fans could keep track of Murphy fondly without identifying him as a rival.

        Where do you think the Nationals will bat him in their line-up? He can do some damage batting in front of Harper.

  • Daniel Hall

    I wasn’t around for any of the seasons mentioned in the article (well, except ’14, and that was meh) and can’t really relate, so I’m most struck by the paralyzing thought of Magical Murph with that icky W on the chest that looks like it was drawn by a drunkard. Nooooo…!

    Why couldn’t he go to the AL West and out of view? -.-

    • The people at Walgreens take exception to your characterization of the W that the Nationals ripped off.

      • Daniel Hall

        My sorry excuse will be that there’s just no Walgreens here in Germany, and how would I know and all.

        Fits those slimy Redshirts, though, stealing other people’s stuff.

        Like Magical Murph.

  • Kevin from Flushing

    Thanks for this, a fair sum-up of 2015. I imagine I will always recall it as “the bizarre year,” with its Jekyll & Hide nature and its decision on July 31st to go apeshit with home runs & simply stop losing. I firmly agree, there’s never been another Mets team quite like it.

    2015 was also quite important to me because it taught me to ignore precedent, particularly negative ones. My faith took a hit when Kenny Rogers threw ball four during my first self-aware playoff run, then shot through the heart in 2000, and Brian Jordan made sure it stayed dead in 2001. 2006-2008 were fun for a while, until that little devil of precedent started whispering to the pit of my stomach. 2015 was the year I said, “so what? That’s in the past!”

    And to be sure, this was a late summer phenomenon. If the Mets gave up 2 first inning runs in June, I’d lament, “well we ain’t scoring 3, so this games over.” But by September 9th, down 7-1 to the Nats after 6, I knew the game wasn’t over. My faith was back, and it was rewarded.

    Sorry for the run-on comment, but if I may, a good runner up to this all this in my book is The Death of 2007 (which is in itself related to precedent). The coffin closed with the division clincher, and was nailed shut with Familia turning aside Rollins & Utley in Game 5.

    Let’s Go Mets!

    • Eric

      Greg:
      “2015 wasn’t 2007, no matter how much instinctual fretting we succumbed to as August became September. The 2007 Mets held a formidable lead and mishandled it. The 2015 Mets held a formidable lead and expanded it.”

      Kevin:
      “a good runner up to this all this in my book is The Death of 2007 (which is in itself related to precedent). The coffin closed with the division clincher, and was nailed shut with Familia turning aside Rollins & Utley in Game 5.”

      There was a lot of magic to the 2015 season. A big part of the magic that made the 2015 Mets season distinct from other winning Mets seasons was the settling, cleansing, expiation, exorcism, redemption of the 2007 collapse, which was followed by the 2008 echo collapse, which bogged down with the miasmic years of LOLMets.

      The 2015 Mets’ redemption of the 2007 collapse became clearest when the 2015 Mets pulled even with the 2007 Mets in game 145 at 83-72, ie, the infamous point of 7 games up with 17 games to play.

      Although the 2015 Mets held an 8.5 game lead over the Nationals, the 2007 Mets finished 1 game back of the Phillies and the 2015 Nationals had an extra game on the 2007 Phillies at the time. That meant, adjusting for a season-ending tie, the 2015 Mets were effectively in the same position as the 2007 Mets at the point of the season where the 2007 Mets collapsed.

      For the 2007 Mets, most of the damage was done in games 145-150, where their division lead shrank from 7 games to 1.5 games over 6 days. For the 2015 Mets, the lead was 6.5 games at game 150, the most their lead would shrink before clinching the NL East in game 155.

      Exorcising the 2007 collapse was enough satisfaction for one season’s work. But they don’t stop there. They reached 90 wins in game 162, which is the benchmark for a legitimately good team (rather than merely 1st in a bad division) and 1 more win than the 2008 Mets, to stamp the season for Howie Rose’s books. Then they beat the Dodgers – overcoming an encore appearance of the 2007 collapse with Rollins and dirty Utley – and then the Cubs to redeem the 2006 LCS loss. Fowler even struck out looking to end the LCS.

      Next step is setting right the 2015 WS loss.

  • Great historical perspective Greg. Having observed every season since May 1972 from boxscores, occasional national TV appearances, games in San Francisco as well as during 2005-2014, nearly every game on TV/MLB subscription, 2015 can compare with no other for me personally. Living through the season at Citi will change my perspective of Mets baseball forever.

    Here we are not 2 months from World Series game 5 and the off season feels like a year ago. Questioning who we signed and who we didn’t, anger at the ownership, holes in the team that only get a couple shovel loads instead of a tractor fill and pave, anticipation of the ability to have dominate pitching and minor league players on the horizon. In 2015 we went where we were not expected and anything less than another trip to late October baseball in 2016 will be a major disappointment for most. With the state of the team right now, is a repeat expected?

    2015 was indeed a season unto itself, different than any other. I look forward to the Happiest Recap in April with your book about this year. Let’s hope 2016 is more of the same, with success on the field that brings excitement & joy for the Mets faithful.

    • Eric

      To me, the 2015 season stands apart. I don’t expect a season like 2015 to be repeated next year in the sense of the 2016 season progressively building on the 2015 season. How could it? How can the roller-coaster of unexpected highs and frustrating lows, the bounce-back resilience, and the Summer of Cespedes hot streak that melted the Nationals be reproduced? Somehow, in the recollection, the clock striking midnight on the Mets in the WS only highlights the unlikely, magical Cinderella nature of the rest of it.

      I look forward to the young stud starters realizing their potential as an all-time starting rotation of aces and Familia closing their games. For the rest of the team, I hope for the best and that they’re as hungry as the Royals after their 2014 WS loss, but my expectations aren’t high.

      • Rob E.

        I’m not sure what you mean by “my expectations aren’t high.” They aren’t high as in you expect them to win only 90 games, or they aren’t high as in you expect them to win only 80 games? They are not far off from what they were the second half last season. Walker is at least the equal of Murphy, and Cabrera is better than what we had at SS last year. Flores, De Aza, and Plawecki give us better depth, and Conforto will be closer to Cespedes than to Cuddyer. They can still use a few bullpen pieces, but there is still plenty of time to do that. It’s reasonable to expect better health (even if it’s not 150 games worth) with guys like d’Arnaud & Wright, and it’s reasonable to expect improvement in the pitchers as they get more experience, stamina, and move further away from the coddling & innings limits.

        Again, people just focus on how much money you spend as a barometer of “dedication to the cause” and future success. That thinking didn’t hold up last year, and it doesn’t hold up now. At this moment, they may not be as good as the team that was hitting on all cylinders last summer, but they are not far off, and they are CLEARLY better than the team we had for the first 100 games. On top of that, two teams in the division are in total rebuild mode, and our main rival didn’t really improve themselves (they lost Desmond, Span, and Zimmerman, and they still got Papelbon).

        This team is still in growth mode, and though they benefited from Washington’s collapse, what they did was NOT a fluke. My expectations are VERY high. I see a playoff team here.

  • Dave

    The Nats’ W logo earned its score of zero on the originality scale because it’s the same W used by the last incarnation of the Senators. But of course fans of a team with a slightly ornate interlocking orange NY on their caps can’t criticize them for that all that much.

    Eric, Murph signing with the team in the Bronx would’ve been a slap in the face a la seeing Doc, Straw and Cone there. I was hoping for maybe the Angels or the Mariners, some team completely off our radar.

    • Eric

      I’m part of the faction (minority?) of Mets fans who don’t subscribe to the Mets-Yankees rivalry, except in rare cases like the 2000 WS, and I missed the full effect of that season because I was out of the country.

      I don’t cheer for the Yankees and I’m not interested in their bandwagon when they’re winning championships. But their success doesn’t bother me. There’s enough space in NYC for 2 teams. Heck, we used to have 3 of baseball’s banner teams and the Mets claimed the fan bases of 2 of them. Unless MLB realigns the Yankees and Mets as rivals for the same division, like the city’s basketball and hockey rivalries, they’re just another team to me until the WS rematch. The Yankees just happen to be the non-rival team I’m most aware of as a New York sports fan.

      It feels strange to see favorite Mets in Yankees pinstripes, but not stranger than seeing them in any other non-Mets uniform. I don’t feel bad when they win as Yankees because that doesn’t cost the Mets anything, unlike if Murphy helps the Nationals win. The only time it bothered me was when they pitched a no-hitter for the Yankees, but that was before Santana broke the streak for the Mets.

  • eric1973

    Hey, business is business, and this is the business we chose.

    Murph made a business decision, and now so must we.

    Had he signed with anyone besides the Nats or Yanks, I could see myself rooting for him while actually watching him play. Sorry, now no can do. I hope he has 3 great years, but ‘not while I’m around’ the TV (Greg appreciates the reference), and, of course, ONLY if the Nats are losing in the process.

  • eric1973

    Eric, I have to believe you are indeed in the minority, and would be surprised to find out otherwise, though I seem to see this more than I would think.

    To me, one is either a Met fan or a Yankee fan, and I have always felt that ‘sports hatred’ toward them for as long as I can remember. Their WS wins in 77-78 were crushing blows, as were those Torre years when they won every year. When the Yanks are eliminated, it is reason to rejoice.

    • Eric

      As far as either/or, I’m not a Yankees fan. Generally speaking, I don’t get how some people can be fans of more than 1 team per sport. But I’m not a Yankees fan in the same kind of way that I’m not, say, an Orioles fan or White Sox fan or Angels fan. But yeah, I don’t feel ‘sports hatred’ towards the Yankees. Except when they play the Mets, I don’t root against them. I don’t root for them, either.

      • Dennis

        I’m kind of the same way Eric. I despise them when they play against the Mets, but other than that it just bores me to even pay attention to or discuss them at all. Some fans seem to want to interject them in any discussion about the Mets even though it’s not warranted.

        But I do enjoy reading about the older Yankees teams……from the teams in the 20’s up through the 50’s. Love em or hate em, it was an important part of the history of baseball.

  • […] out there. The new year couldn’t be much newer or less knowable. If you need precedent (despite precedent’s limited efficacy), just look back to 365 days ago. We had no idea what the Mets were about to do and only modest […]