Archive Page 2

Breaching the Barrier

The Mets have won eleven straight games. They have done so four other times in their 54 year history. Twice during seasons when they won the World Series, twice during seasons that were disappointments.

From May 28th to June 10th, 1969, the Mets won eleven in a row. If you think everyone is buzzing now about our current New York Mets, what happened then was utterly euphoric. Prior to the ’69 streak, the Mets were never over .500 in their brief seven year history. The club’s record was 18-23 when they kicked off their historic run with an eleven inning (how prophetic) 1-0 victory at Shea Stadium against the San Diego Padres. The winning would continue through the rest of the home stand with sweeps of the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers. Ironically they were the two clubs that bolted from New York for the west coast just eleven years prior (wow, there’s that number again).  The Mets took their winning ways to San Diego where they swept the Pads then took the first one at Candlestick Park before finally losing a game to the Giants.  At the conclusion of the streak, the Mets’ record had soared to 29-23, moving them into second place, seven back of the Cubs. Of course the Mets won the Series in ’69 and down the stretch they won 37 of their last 48 games including a ten game winning streak.

The next time the Mets won eleven in a row was in 1972, a very promising season. From May 12th of that year to May 21st, they ran off eleven putting themselves in a dominant position in the division. With a record of 25-7 at the conclusion of the streak, the Mets led the Pittsburgh Pirates by six full games and the Cubs by 9. Unfortunately injuries took their toll on the ’72 Mets and eventually the Pirates caught them. Although the club finished ten games over .500, they finished in third place, 13.5 games back of the Bucs.

Fourteen years later, the Mets pulled it off again. After starting the season at 2-3 (just like the 2015 Mets), they won eleven straight setting the tone for what would become the most dominating season in Mets history. Of course I am talking about the ’86 Mets who won the second and last world championship for the franchise. After the streak ended, running from April 18th to April 30th, the Mets never looked back as they destroyed the rest of the league winning 108 games, a team mark.

From June 17th to June 29th of 1990, the Mets won eleven straight again. Dwight Gooden won three games during the streak. But it was a year where the Mets would run neck and neck with Pittsburgh. Even after the streak, the Mets managed to stay just percentage points ahead of Pittsburgh for the division lead and just a game and a half ahead of the Montreal Expos. Ultimately the Mets finished a respectable twenty games over .500 but fell four short of the Pirates. It also was a year that marked the end of the great teams of the 80’s. From 1984 through 1990, the Mets averaged 95 wins per season.

And now for the fifth time in franchise history, the Mets have won eleven in a row. Had the 1972 and 1990 clubs played in a system that supported a wild card, those clubs would have made the playoffs. So is it possible the 2015 Mets will also be a playoff team. It’s way too early to tell. And already the team has suffered injuries that would have easily crippled many other clubs. It’s a testament to their farm system that the Mets have been able to overcome and continue to thrive at this early juncture.

What I find most interesting is that the club has never been able to breach the eleven win barrier. Perhaps Einstein had a theory about this that he never wrote about.  Just like an object never being able to surpass the speed of light, perhaps the Mets cannot win more than eleven in a row. And now to break through the barrier, the Mets will have to travel into enemy territory to do so. The Mets will need to defeat the New York Yankees in the Bronx to set an all-time club record for games won in a row.

The Yanks who started out dreadful, have played well of late getting very good pitching and clutch hitting. They have a more modest three game winning streak going while having won four out of their last five games.

You can bet the veteran Yankees know what’s on the line. The town is all a buzz about the Mets, the young Mets who find different ways to win every day. Don’t think for a minute that Yankee players are not aware of the sports talk chatter about the Mets taking back the city. The Yankees will have incentive this weekend to right what they consider a wrong, that New York is a Mets town and not a Yankees town.  How will these Mets react? Will they remain cool, calm, and collected, the way they have been over the first sixteen games of this season or will they choke under the pressure of playing in the house built next store to the one that Ruth built.

In the course of the season, this really is not a big series. The Mets have passed a Herculean test by easily defeating the teams then need to win games against, those in their own division. The Yankees are the first team the Mets are playing outside of the NL east. So what if the Mets lose two of three or even get swept? After winning eleven in a row, the club is bound to stumble, it’s inevitable. But this weekend is about symbolism. It represents something more for Mets fans than it does for the Mets. For twenty years we have eaten the Yankees’ dust. Even in seasons when the Mets were good, even when the Mets played the Yanks in the World Series back in 2000, Mets fans have felt like second class citizens. That’s because the Yankees were so dominant. Since 1995, the Yankees were in the post season almost every year, winning five world championships. The Mets and their fans have been just so second fiddle.

The only time Mets fans could truly pound their chests was in 2006 when the Amazins’s made it to the LCS but the Yanks did not.  But now the Mets have a chance to truly make a statement. If they go into Yankee Stadium and win their twelfth in a row or even just win the series, then the naysayers will have to shut up. Anything short of that will take away the positive vibe this team has given us over the first two weeks of the season. That’s a shame because it really is not fair.

The Yankees are old but they have experience under pressure. They will be fighting and clawing to hold on to their well-deserved title of best in New York. The Mets are young, deep, talented, and riding high right now. My biggest fear is not for them to lose against the Yankees, it’s how they react to that if it happens. They are saying the right things, taking the series as just another in a long line of them through the course of the season. But for us Mets fans who have been patient (well, many not so patient), and have waited for things to turn around, this series represents so much more. I guess that’s what makes baseball in New York so special, so different than any other city in this country. While these three games are nothing more than regular season games for both teams fighting in different divisions, they really are something more.

I certainly hope the Mets continue their winning streak for the sake of a franchise record. But if the Mets stumble and lose all three, they will be 13-6. How many Mets fans would have signed on the dotted line for that back in spring training?

 

Something In Common with Greatness

It is the greatest start for the Mets in Citi Field history. It also ties the greatest start in Mets history. The 1986 World Champion New York Mets also began their season at 11-3.

Like this year’s Mets, the ’86 club got off to a slow 2-3 start but then reeled off a winning streak. The current Mets have rolled off nine in a row. They haven’t done that since 2008. However, they will need to win two more in order to match their ’86 ancestors. Eleven in a row is the longest winning streak in club history, first achieved by the 1969 Mets who went on to win the franchise’s first world championship.

It’s hard to compare the 2015 Mets with the team from 1986. That club was just so dominant in every facet of the game. While the current club is very good, it’s hard for me to think this group of guys will win 108 ballgames the way that Keith, Ron, Daryl, and Doc’s team did almost thirty years ago. However, I believe more and more in this club.

The Mets have won the first eight games of a ten game home stand. That has never happened before to start a season. The best the Mets ever did prior to this season was to go 5-0 during the first home stand of a season. The first time was in 1985 when the swept a rain shortened five game home set. In 1988 and 2005, the Mets also won five in a row to start a first home stand. Those home stands continued with a loss. Also those home stands of course were at Shea Stadium. The best in Citi Field’s history before this year was in 2011 when the Mets won the first four in a row of the opening home stand.

What’s happening in Flushing is extraordinary. It would be absolutely amazing if the Mets could sweep the entire home stand. They have never swept a home stand of ten or more games in their history. It will be tough to do especially considering that this evening’s pitcher, Dillon Gee, has struggled in his first three starts of the season. Regardless of what happens in the last two games before heading over to the Bronx on Friday, it has been a great beginning to a very hopeful season.

Pros: Kevin Plawecki gets two hits in his major league debut picking up where Travis d’Arnaud left off.

Cons: Daniel Murphy is not hitting a lick. Second baseman Dilson Herrera is raking at Vegas. Hmm.

 

Lucky 13

There have been only two other times in the 54 year history of the New York Mets that the team found themselves at 10-3. In both of those seasons, 1986 and 2006, the Mets made the playoffs. The former of course was the last time the Mets won the World Series. In the first thirteen games of a season, the Mets have never done better.

In 2007, 1998, 1985, 1984, and 1972, the Mets got out to a 9-4 start. The Mets did not make the playoffs in any of those years. One of those years in particular sounds an ugly chord. That would be ’72 when the Mets got off to a very fast start but many key injuries, most notably to Rusty Staub, curtailed their efforts of getting to the post season. Also the fact that the 1969, 1973, 1988, and 2000 teams made the playoffs and did not have a great record after 13 games proves it’s a long season.  However, it’s hard to be upset after a 10-3 start regardless of what is to come.

Of course the bad news is the 2015 Mets continue to pile up injuries. Yesterday’s eighth consecutive win came with a hefty price as the Mets lost Travis d’Arnaud and Jerry Blevins to fractures. Both will be out for quite some time one would expect. Both were contributing a great deal and were part of the reason why the Mets have gotten off to such a fast start. Now the Mets have promoted Kevin Plawecki, a highly touted catching prospect and Hansel Robles, a right handed pitcher to replace Blevins. Both are coming from Las Vegas.

Depth is key for the Mets. So far this season, the Mets have lost Zach Wheeler and Josh Edgin, both receiving Tommy John surgery. They will be lost for the season. Vic Black is going to get another MRI on his ailing shoulder so who knows if he will be available any time soon. David Wright pulled his right hamstring sliding into second last week. He is out two to three weeks and now d’Arnaud and Blevins. That’s six players, all of whom were being counted on for this season’s success.

If there is a silver lining to all this hurt, it is that the Mets continue to be confident. There seems to be a prevailing feeling that regardless of the obstacles, this team will continue to succeed. Plawecki will get a chance to show that he is the catcher everyone in the organization thinks he can be. He can hit, he’s very good defensively and he works well with the pitching staff. But it is his first time at the major league level so to expect him to pick up where d’Arnaud left off is a bit optimistic. And Robles is not bad but he’s not left handed and it will be difficult for him to provide what Blevins has given this team so far.

How well the Mets play starting tomorrow night could be defined by the loss of these key players. They are yet to hit a rough patch this season but it is inevitable. How they respond to a losing week will tell us how ready these Mets are to compete for real.

Pros: An eight game winning streak and the first time in history that the Mets won seven consecutive at home to start a season. The longest winning streak in Mets history is 11 games set several times.

Cons: That’s a no brainer, the loss of d’Arnaud and Blevins, period.

 

Very Good First Ten

In 2014, in games the opponents scored first, the Mets were 23-41 (.359). So far this year, they are 4-3 in games they had to come from behind. That’s another good sign for a team trying to prove that they belong with the more elite in the league. In fact, the last three games in a row were won after trailing.

The Mets have now won five in a row. That didn’t happen all of last season. You have to go back to 2013 to find a Mets five game winning streak. It’s only ten games so it would be foolhardy to make bold predictions. But I do think it is safe to say this club is finally on the right track. Consider what is good. The pitching has been outstanding. The Mets are taking advantage of other teams mistakes. They never quit and are able to come back in games and not let adversity dissuade them, like in last night’s overturned call that allowed the Marlins to tie the game. They Mets just kept coming back.

Is there room for improvement? Why of course. The club is leaving far too many runners on base, an affliction that hurt them greatly last season. While Curtis Granderson is getting on base a lot, he’s still not hitting at all. Wilmer Flores continues to be a work in progress at short but his bat, as demonstrated by last night’s game tying three run homerun is why he’s needed in the lineup. Daniel Murphy is an absolute bonehead in the field. His bumbling into a double play made on Wednesday night when it should have been Ruben Tejada’s play to make is one example. His errant throw to the plate in last night’s game that led to a five minute review was another. Murph’s hitting keeps him in the game but the future is uncertain especially with Matt Reynolds and Dilson Herrera in the minors.

So the Mets after ten games are not a perfect team but they are 7-3, sitting alone at the moment by a half game on top of the NL East. The Mets are a fun team to watch that never gives up. They have been in all ten games they have played. It looks like this could be a very fun summer of baseball in Flushing.

 

Perfect at Home

A wild and wacky game ends with an unfortunate injury. We yet do not know the length of time David Wright will be out. Could be day to day but a stint on the disabled list is most likely. Wright, not wanting to repeat what happened a year ago, took himself out of one entertaining ballgame in the eighth inning, fearing his slightly pulled hammy could get worse if he had to break for home. Good move David. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. And while he will be missed in the lineup if he’s out three weeks, better to be safe than lose him for three months.

The Mets are 2-0 at home, a place where they must dominate. It didn’t hurt that there were two big crowds that played the 10th man on the field over the first two games. Citi Field is finally letting its voice be heard. A beauty of a ballpark looks so much better filled with people. And how about a shout out to Sandy Alderson for bringing in the right field wall? If not for that, the Mets and Phils might still be playing.

If Wright is out, we will see early on how the depth of the organization plays out. Eric Campbell is on his way from Vegas. Michael Cuddyer expects to be in the lineup tonight but we don’t know for sure yet. He suffered a contusion on his left hand when hit by a pitch. Ironically his sub, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, made the defensive play of the game, a diving catch in left that saved a run.

Pros: Mets win another series and go for the sweep tonight. Daniel Murphy hit the first Mets Citi Field home run of the season that proved to be the deciding factor.

Cons: Are you kidding? Wright hurt is definitely a bummer.

 

The Boys are Back in Town

They say the key to a successful season is to win at home and play .500 on the road. Well the Mets started accomplishing the latter by going 3-3 on their opening road trip. Now it’s home to Citi Field where the Mets begin a ten game home stand, two full weeks in New York since the Mets next road trip starts in the Bronx.

But all is not so rosy. The Mets hitting or lack thereof, is very reminiscent of last season, not what we witnessed during spring training. While it was good to see them capitalize on other teams’ errors, they have thus far shown it difficult to generate any rallies. The Mets could easily be 1-5 heading into the home opener. Defense has been a challenge as well, predictable at shortstop where Wilmer Flores has found difficulty making throws to first. Murphy has done a nice job so far but he and Flores ability to turn two has also been a problem also.

Okay, I won’t go crazy. It’s the first week of the season and the Mets did win three of six games. There are many teams right now with the same record. Some are predicted to do great things this year as well.

Unlike others, I don’t see the loss of Jenrry Meija for 80 games as big a deal. That’s because I really like Jeurys Familia, who I think will ultimately be the better closer of this team. He’s got the best stuff and we will at least get to see if he has the makeup necessary for the ninth inning. Plus Bobby Parnell will be back hopefully for the beginning of May.

Hard to believe but today begins the seventh season at Citi Field. The fences have been moved in again, there is a new video board in center. Hopefully the team on the field will do something that has never happened at the new ballpark—have a winning season.

Pros – Even the 1986 Mets started the season 3-3, however after hitting that mark they went on to win another ten in a row.

Cons – As stated, the offense has been mostly dreadful. Hopefully some home cooking will help.

 

Series One Won

The last time the Mets won a series against Washington was from August 30th though September 1st of 2013 at Nationals Park. It was a meaningless series for the Mets who at the time were 20.5 games out of first place. So although it’s only three games into the season, it’s a good sign that the Mets took two out of three from the Nationals. At the very least it sends a message.  Harvey was great, the offense gave him support, and the defense led by David Wright and Daniel Murphy (yes, Daniel Murphy!) did a fine job in the field. So one series down, one series won. If a team wins the majority of series played, they will have a fine season. Now it’s off to play the 3-0 Braves. Atlanta swept the sexy NL East pick Marlins in Miami to start the season.

Pros: Once again the Mets took advantage of a team’s mistake. Ian Desmond booted another. Instead of two outs and no one on, the Mets had a base runner with one out then rallied for four giving all the support Matt Harvey needed. Even though Jeurys Familia let in a run, he earned his first save of the season covering for the injured Jenrry Meija.

Cons:  So they gave up prospect Cory Mazzoni for Alex Torres? With a six nothing lead, Torres gave up two walks that Buddy Carlyle inherited and allowed to score. I’m sure Harvey was squirming through that.