New York Mets
By Jason Wirchin
Nearly three weeks into this fledging baseball season, Jerry Manuel’s New York Mets are indeed a force to be reckoned with – if, say, you’re the Smithtown Little League team. After taking off with a 3-6 record—losing opening series to the Marlins, Nats and Rockies before heading into last weekend’s matchup with the Cards—the team appears to be headed for another mid-season shake-up. With ESPN, the Daily News and countless blogs spreading rumors of soon-to-be managerial changes, the Mets sure as hell need to hover at or above .500 if they want to save their skipper’s job.
Reyes is back, but still claims he feels uncomfortable on the field. Expect Beltran’s return in mid-June at best, if not closer to the All-Star break. With new acquisitions Jason Bay, Mike Jacobs and Gary Matthews Jr. putting up subpar numbers, GM Omar Minaya’s lackadaisical offseason looks like it has brewed trouble in Queens. The Mets’ starting pitching is a wreck after Santana, despite Ollie’s sporadic flashes of brilliance and Niese’s potential as a developing lefty. Maine’s a sour puss and should learn to smile once in a while, and Pelfrey needs to cut down on his balks and throw strikes.
Ironically, the bullpen folk are as steady now as they’ve been since 2006 and their stellar ERA gives but a tinge of hope to an otherwise precarious Flushing canvas. But it is only April, and as it has been proven time and time again, teams can get lucky and make an unforeseen run for the ages. To clear any doubts, the Mets will not be as bad as they were last year nor will they win 97 games like they did a few years back.
So keep the faith, don’t stop believing and keep watching. Who knows? Maybe you’ll come across a 20-inning thriller one of these days!
By Michael Srodoski
The Philadelphia Phillies enter play Friday with their best start since 1993, a season that began with low expectations after a last place finish in 1992 and ended with an improbable World Series run. That 1993 team was a team of lovable characters who forever occupy a special spot in Phillies fans’ hearts. Led by Darren “Dutch” Dalton, John Kruk, Lenny “Nails” Dykstra and Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams, and featuring a little known 27-year-old fireballer named Curtis Montague Schilling, the 1993 Phillies opened their season by sweeping the Houston Astros on the road. They led from wire to wire, clinching the NL East on September 28th and finishing the season with 97 wins.
This season also began with the Phillies sweeping their opening series again on the road, surprisingly against the Washington Nationals. The Nationals have handed the Phillies their only two losses of the season and, despite being predicted by nearly every sportswriter in America to finish fifth in the NL East, are actually ahead of the lowly Mets in the standings. (The Mets also finished last in 1993, with an NL-high 103 losses.)
On Opening Day, after Barack Obama threw the first pitch, Roy Halladay began building his Phillies legacy. He gave up a run in the opening inning of the season, then shut the Nationals down, then yielded just one more in his second start: a complete game domination of the Houston Astros. He was named National League Player of the Week for the first week of the season, immediately living up to the massive pre-season hype. The Phillies are also bringing the wood. Averaging nearly eight runs per game thus far in the season, the Phillies’ offense is picking right back up where it left off after leading the NL in runs scored in 2009. Through nine games the Phillies have served notice to the entire National League that the road to the NL Pennant will go through Philadelphia this year.
By Andrew Fraley
In my last column, I promised that the Rockies would be winning all of their games. Getting more realistic, they’re only winning about half of them. While this isn’t good, it’s not necessarily bad for them. The Rox have started slow for the last three years, and have wound up making the playoffs in two of those years. The fact that they’re hovering around .500 in the slow months is a pretty good sign. Just wait till September and Rocktober, bitches.
What is troubling about the Rockies at the moment is the fact that their defense has been totally fucking up. Something like 12 errors in 10 games—yikes. Even Troy Tulowitski, the best shortstop in the National League (fuck you, Jimmy Rollins), is making mistakes. The Rox are famous for doing everything right. They’re not a team of superstars, they’re a team of fundamentally sound players who are gritty and do their best. When they don’t do everything right, they lose more games. Christ, we almost lost that second game to the Mets based on errors. That’s just embarrassing.
Not only that, but my dream rotation isn’t so dreamy anymore. Aaron Cook seems to have lost some of his magic; he’s not doing so well. Jorge De La Rosa is still pretty good, but a little inconsistent. Greg Smith, some dude I’d never heard of, is also inconsistent, but he’s a fucking slugger so it’s all good. Our bullpen is also a bit flip floppy; Betancourt is still great, but the others need some work. I look forward to Huston Street’s return.
On the plus side, Ubaldo Jimenez is the best pitcher ever, and just pitched the Rockies’ first no-hitter. Now the exclusive No No-hitters club has just two elite members: The Padres and The (Devil) Rays. Suck on that, bitches.