This Year’s Edition of . . . “Hey, You Never Know!”

Jimmy:

UnknownLast year, in a brief rebuttal to a remark by defeatist Jeff Wilpon, Mariano Rivera inadvertently gave this blog a theme for the season.

In a phrase, “Hey, you never know.”

And as time goes on, and we go deeper into another strange season, the theme continues to ring true. In fact, it sums up baseball for us.

You never know.

Which is partly why, I guess, as much as I enjoy stats, there’s a part of me that grows bored and restless. Like Walt Whitman, I want to wander outdoors to stare up in mute silence at the stars. Oh, hell, here’s the last few lines, one of the first poems I ever really understood with my heart:

How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

-

Anyway and in other words, crazy shit happens every year. Players’ performance levels fall off cliffs, while others emerge seemingly from nowhere, and every season a team takes the baseball world by surprise.

I am talking about the Milwaukee Brewers.

No, I mean . . . the New York Mets!

Could this be their year? Even after this rugged stretch?

Murphy May 11th

Mike:

As a fan my thought is that as long as your team hangs around, well, surprises can happen. What makes the game so great is that no matter how hard people try to predict the future, they cannot. That is why we watch.

Jimmy:

Even though they’ve been fairly unwatchable lately. I mean I’ve watched, but I’ve felt bad about myself afterwards.

Mike:

1969NewYorkMets-MiraclesMy first pennant race was 1969, and I still remember how I felt about that year. It was the first season that baseball had multiple Divisions, and the prevailing joke was that this would benefit the Mets because now the worst they could finish was sixth. But that Mets team had a solid start, including a great May, and settled into second place behind the Cubs. Knowing how crazy I was about the Mets I kept getting questioned by friends, did I really think they could win? Now, I was not a wide-eyed optimist kid, I have always been firmly rooted in reality. But when asked about that team, I started using those very words to my friends, you never know. The team I feared in 1969 was the Cardinals, who had been NL champs in 1967 and 1968. Every day when I looked at the standings the Mets were ahead of them. By mid-July, as the Mets were still very much alive, and still ahead of those Cardinals, I started really thinking something special could happen. By October I had not only experienced great thrills, but learned a fun lesson. The game can shock you, teams come out of nowhere, and it might be your team. My love for baseball, which was already deep, grew much deeper from that knowledge.

Jimmy:

There was so much about that ’69 season that I vividly recall. Certainly Bill Gallo’s cartoons documenting it all in the NY Daily News. He became one of the patron saints of this blog, in fact, from Gallo we borrowed our core conceit of 2 guys talking it over, elbows on the bar, over a glass of suds.

 

The great Bill Gallo.

The great Bill Gallo.

Mike:

There is one particular cartoon from 1969 that I remember to this day. I looked but cannot find a copy. There is that old baseball saying, “Whoever is in first place on July 4 will win the pennant.” On July 4, 1969, Gallo had a cartoon of Gil Hodges and Yogi Berra holding a document with the saying, only the word “first” was crossed out, and “second” was scribbled over it. That cartoon, for me, captured the entire, “Why the hell not?” feeling that was the 1969 Mets.

Overall, Gallo had a ball with that team, and his cartoons added an extra element of fun to the proceedings.

Jimmy:

E5DE9B73-F9C9-49BB-B5C9-569AE7F0A1E79Gallo was fantastic. The Mets won 11 in a row in May and to me, as a third-grade kid, I found that unbelievably surreal and exciting. It was, yes . . . amazing.

Now it’s easy to say that these current NY Mets don’t have Seaver and Koosman.

But here’s the deal:

1) It’s never been easier to make the playoffs;

2) Once you go to a short series, it’s no longer about the best team. It’s the team that comes together at the right time. Maybe even the team that’s luckiest.

3) Lastly, if you can make the playoffs, the team with dominant starters has a great chance to run the table.

Mike:

Exactly. The 1969 Mets won 100 games. You don’t need to do that these days, if you are over 85 wins you can be in the conversation. It’s never been easier to make the playoffs, and there might not be a killer team in our Division. Washington has now lost Harper for two months. Hang around, and well . . . .

Jimmy:

. . . ya never know!

tumblr_mzg68bPZmn1sp30b1o1_400The key here is that we need management to recognize that fact. It’s where doubt creeps into the equation — doubt in Sandy Alderson. He comes off as so cold, controlled, and analytical. As passionate as a cod. I want to see his inner competitive fire take over, if he’s got any embers left. We honestly haven’t seen it yet, so it’s fair to wonder: Does this guy want to win? I want to see him try, even if that means going outside his personal comfort zone. Beyond standard operating procedures, beyond the lazy and unsatisfactory internal options. We live in the Here & Now. If there’s a chance to make a run, I just hope he goes for it. Of course, pennants can be won and lost in May and June, too. These games count. The time is now. When opportunity knocks, he’s got to answer the door. Which is why keeping the talent on the farm feels so wrong. But, sigh, we have beaten that drum many times in the past. At least lately, even some of Sandy’s legion of True Believers are beginning to wonder what’s up.

Why not now? Why not us?

Why not give it our best shot? What’s the harm in trying?

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17 comments

  1. Eraff says:

    I see upside…better ahead for Wright and Granderson. Hoping that d’Arnaud can settle in and be competitive+ with his bat—-he looks talented, and he looks jumpy at the plate.

    Between lack of both experience and talent, they have a lot of “easy to pitch to” ab’s in high leverage situations.

    There’s enough Starting Pitching for nice, late season baseball. Get some of the young talent here NOW…. let’s lose and learn this season…and maybe we’ll win.

    They lack the two Hammer Starters who can pitch 7/8 innings or a complete playoff game…. maybe that will be there by the end of the season.

    Is there resource and willingness for a management move…MOVES..??? The Fans are certainly ready, but I don’t see the FO mindset or Ownership willingness.

    Since day one of the Sandy Regime: Can anyone find a quote of where the word “Championship” is used?

    • Patrick Boegel says:

      When a team starts rummaging through the dust bin to find that they are .500 since last June something or other as a sign that things are working…

      Lets just say the Silver Lining is awful thin around that big, ugly, gray cloud.

      This team has gone from meaningful games in September, to sustained winning as a goal. Meaningful games in September was frankly more bold. Sustained winning is Orwellian, when you consider they have sustained basically the same record from 2011 to date.

  2. IB says:

    I’ve been thinking about your comments on management’s age as a problem and the more I do the more merit I think it deserves. Let’s face it, Alderson probably never wanted this job to begin with. It probably came with a promise from Selig that after 4 years in NY he’s the next commissioner. That would tempt a 60 something Harvard lawyer with not much else to prove – thinking now about his legacy. Up there with Judge Kenesaw Mount Landis. The Mets are a late in life stepping stone. Not that important. I’m Alderson, at this age, let me appear competent and confident enough in NY. I’ll boast to my pals that my handicap is still 12. Eat at the best places in town. Terry still can ride the planes and maybe have a hot divorcee in a port or two. Whoop dee doo. The goals are tempered by age. 500 ball is not so bad, ya know?

    (I’m saying this first hand, BTW. Sheesh.)

    Just speculation based on the human condition, but like you ask, where’s the passion? The problem is, to me anyway, a man evolves and comes to accept conditions that seemed unthinkable 30 years earlier. Was Sandy the Prudent, Painfully Patient Exec in 1980?

  3. Eraff says:

    Where did that go to Terry and Hot Divorcees?

  4. IB says:

    Just trying to get at the state of mind. Apologies to Terry if I went too far.

  5. FL Met Fan Rich says:

    Playoffs?….Did you say playoffs?

    I just hooping they hang around so they play meaningful baseball in June.

  6. Reese Kaplan says:

    Alderson has failed to deliver.

    Collins has failed to deliver.

    Many players have failed to deliver.

    The wholesale housecleaning that should have been done when Wright’s contract was up and there was no money. He could have netted you the Stantons, Ozunas and others like that we don’t have in the minors. Now with the cavalry of pitching ready to arrive, how are we going to accommodate them all unless thing thing called a “TRADE” is made to bring in some bats.

    Sorry, the joy from last night’s victory was ephemeral at best.

  7. Eraff says:

    Yes, a Competitive and mediocre team since last June— I question whether they have the Resolve AND Resources to respond to Opportunity (to actually compete for a WC slot).

  8. Dave says:

    I’m not quite old enough to remember the 1969 season, so for me, 1984 is the touchstone year for improbable turnarounds. When I am in an optimistic/nostalgic mood, I think back to June of 1984. I was taking a summer class in college, and the Mets were hovering around .500 after two months of the season (per baseball reference, 23-23 on June 3). After 7 straight losing seasons, attendance and fan interest was low. Between going to class in the day and drinking pitchers of cheap beer in the bars at night, I communed with Tim McCarver, Steve Zabriskie, Ralph and the Mets every evening from 7-10. During a two week stretch in early June 1984, the Mets won 11 of 14 games to move into 1st place for the first time in more than a decade. The Mets went 36-14 during a 50 game stretch that summer. By the end of July, the Mets had a 4 game lead, were routinely drawing 35 -50,000 for games at Shea, and had recaptured the imagine of the baseball fan in New York. No one saw this coming after a 68-94 season in ’83. The Mets play during June of 1984 ranks high on my list of joyful franchise memories.

    Can it happen again in 2014? Unlikely, but possible, given the current dynamics in the NL East. A good sign is the callup of Flores, and another good step will be calling up Montero this week and Syndergaard soon( rather than waiting until September, when no one will care). The ’84 Mets rejuvenated a moribund franchise in part because management pushed (some would say rushed) the best players up to the big club (Darling, Gooden, Fernandez, along with Strawberry in mid ’83), even though another year of seasoning at AAA was seen as the more rational option. Jim P. and others have correctly noted that Frank Cashen took a risk by putting Darling on the opening day roster in 1984. Lost in Gooden’s dominant finish that year, was Darling’s great first half. Darling started his rookie season with a 10-3 record after a 4 hit shutout of the Reds on July 6th (thanks again to baseball reference). Calling up Syndergaard would bring a much needed jolt of energy into the fan base, and possibly a similar level of rookie success. Even if he struggles, I’d rather lose with Noah on the mlb roster because it would give us a good reason to watch and care about this team.

    I’ll say it again…the NY baseball market is ready for a change…even with Tanaka’s impressive start, the Yankees seem tired, stale, broken down. If the Mets can make a move in the standings, especially if one of the young pitchers are brought up to play a part in a hot streak, the sports media attention needle will shift towards Citi Field. The upcoming series is a good place to start. I hope we see Montero on the hill Wednesday.

    • Great comment, thanks. I am not in favor of bring Montero up to pitch against the Yankees in his debut, at a (rare) packed great at Citi Field. That would be a strange, nonsensical turn of events for a prospect who they’ve treated more as a suspect. Besides, I don’t see how Mejia has lost the job. I mean, it could be that he’s better suited to a relief role. But they gave him the starting slot and he’s been good, not great, over seven games, with flashes of brilliance. If draft and development is a key — and neither Mejia nor Montero are Sandy’s guys (Montero was scouted and identified on Omar’s watch, Sandy just signed those papers a few weeks into the job) — then it is important to treat these players respectfully, to develop them properly. I’m hearing panic in TC’s comments, and getting the sense that Sandy is feeling the heat, too, but to a much lesser degree. DeGrom should be in the pen, now.

  9. I’d like to clarify what “you never know” means to me. It means . . . don’t punt, don’t give up, don’t strike out on the on-deck circle. “You never know” means that the Mets have a chance. Maybe they aren’t favorites, maybe I wouldn’t put any money down on them in Vegas, but they have a chance. I sure wish the organizational thinking philosophy wasn’t see content with, “Well, we’ll see.”

  10. Eraff says:

    Mejia— this is an example of a young guy “struggling in”…..it’s good and it’s lousy and that is what young players look like. Let him continue to do what he’s doing for a little while. He’s not plug in and go as a Starter—and he won;t be as a reliever either.

  11. Eraff says:

    Wow—was I sleeping?…just read THIS:
    http://metsminors.net/montero-gets-the-call-will-replace-mejia-in-rotation/

    They’re bringing him up for a Home Start in the most high profile series of their year—THIS is exactly the opposite of how it’s supposed to be done!

    Yeah… Sandy Alderson is a Great Gm….??????

  12. Michael Geus says:

    Word is that deGrom could be in the pen too, in a few days.

  13. Eraff says:

    The 2000 Year Old Pitcher has an ERA nipping at 6…… and the 24 Year OLD is being Jerked back to the Bullpen?!

    “Taking Advantage of Market Inefficiencies”???? Wow—the Troika is CRUSHING it!!!!

    You wish they Could make a move…but….you’ve gotta be a little concerned that They Could Make a Move!!!!!!

  14. Raff says:

    Count me in as stating the Mets Current success is “fools-gold”. This is not a playoff team, and it’s certainly not a World Series Contender. “Why not now… why not us?” is a noble battle cry, but it is not supported by the team The Mets can put on the field this year. I don’t want them to trade away pitching prospects for a narrow chance at being a marginal wildcard team which either doesn’t make it to the post-season- or merely dies n the first round. I see this team as the”68 Mets waiting for next season- HOLDING and building their pitching for a year in which, with a little money and a lot of luck- they can actually compete for the prize.2015. I want to see ALL OF THEM. ALL the pitching prospects- NOW, Bring up the prospects- Let’s he “meaningful games” in June and beyond for Them

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