NL East’s Most Hated Team

When divisional realignment took place in 1994, the NL East was haphazardly set up. Sure, it made sense geographically, but the division was set up with no natural rivalries. 

Despite being around since 1962, a Mets rivalry never developed with the Phillies or Expos. The Mets and Braves were always in separate divisions, and it’s not like there was any bad blood lingering from the 1969 NLCS. The Marlins were too new and too terrible to really create a rivalry with anyone. 

The Braves ruled the division early, and there was a brewing rivalry with the Mets. I’m still smarting from 1999. The rivalry is there, but it’s really fizzled after the Braves run. From 2006-2008, the rivalry was with the Phillies. With the Mets downward spiral since moving to Citi Field, that rivalry has dissipated a bit. 

Sure, the bad blood is there, but I’m not quite sure either is a true rivalry. However, what I am sure of is the fact that there is a lot of bad blood in the NL East and it’s directed at the Mets. 

In 2007 and 2008, the Marlins gave their all against the Mets. They beat the Mets two out of three in the Mets final home series with a Mets playoff berth on the line. I’ve heard blame Jose Reyes and his boisterous play (someday showboating). However, how do you explain this year?

I don’t think I’m imagining things when I say the Phillies, Braves, and Marlins have played hard against the Mets recently. This isn’t a complaint. They should play hard everyday, and especially so against their divisional rivals. However, I don’t think they bring the same energy against the Nationals. 

Since August, here’s how those teams have played against the Mets and Nationals:

Atlanta Braves

  • Mets go 4-0 with a composite score of 28-14
  • Nationals go 4-0 with a composite score of 36-9

Miami Marlins

  • Mets go 5-3 with a composite score of 50-40
  • Nationals go 3-3 with a composite score of 21-13

Philadelphia Phillies

  • Mets go 5-1 with a composite score of 56-49
  • Nationals go 3-0 with a composite score of 24-9 

The scores between the Mets and their NL East opponents are closer than the scores between the Nationals and the same opponents. Also, it looks like the Marlins like being a thorn in everyone’s side. Imagine if they put that same energy in a 162 game schedule?

Hopefully, the Marlins keep it up. They just beat the Mets two out of three spreading panic throughout Mets fans. They now have a four game set with the Nationals. Here’s hoping the Marlins put forth the same effort. 

If they don’t, it just shows the NL East truly hates the Mets. 

C’mon Mets Fans

I’m not a member of The 7 Line Army. It’s nothing personal. It’s just that as it got off the ground, I wasn’t in position to join the fun.  I have a son, and I needed to have seats in certain areas that are covered as Irish skin does not do well in the sun. 

In any event, I have been to games the 7 Line Army also attended. They looked like a fun bunch. I assumed that if you sat with them, you were a diehard fan. Keep in mind, the games aren’t just at Citi Field. They travel to different ballparks. If you travel with them, I would naturally assume you’re a diehard. 

Today, I was proven wrong. Darren Meenan, owner of The 7 Line, gave us Mets fans a chance to go to an NLDS game with a group of diehard fans. As someone who’s purchased stuff in the past, I had an opportunity to purchase tickets. I decided not for a two reasons: 1) I’m putting all my money in the World Series basket; 2) there’s no telling the time of the game and if I can get out of the day job in time. 

I’ll be upfront and honest. I did have a passing thought to purchase the tickets and sell them on Stub Hub, but I decided against it. The main reason I didn’t was the 2000 World Series. I couldn’t get tickets. When I watched the games on TV, I noticed there were more Yankee fans at all five games. That was the result of MLB restricting access to the seats and the prices on the secondary market. 

I was annoyed that a diehard fan like myself couldn’t be there. I figured this was going to be different. With how it was set up, I assumed this was a limited chance for diehard fans. I was wrong. It appears people spoiled the fun:

I’m assuming a diehard fan (or bandwagon fan) will scoop up the tickets. I’m sure they’ll cheer just as hard. I just wish the diehard fan got an opportunity to purchase that ticket at face value rather than at a huge markup. 

Overall, I’m just shocked a supposed Mets fan doesn’t want to go to a playoff game. 

NOTE: This site is not affiliated in any way with the7line.com. In fact, I’m not even sure if the7line.com even knows this website exists. I wrote this due to my displeasure and not at the direction of anyone or in the attempt to curry favor with anyone. 

Who Gets the Lefties Out Now?

With the additions of Tyler Clippard and Addison Reed, Sandy Alderson has really surged up the bullpen. The seventh, eighth, and ninth innings are locked down. 

What is great about these pitchers is they can get both lefties and righties out. It eliminates the need to go to matchups late in the game. That’s important because you risk exposing a LOOGY to a right handed pinch hitter in a key spot in a game. Of course, I’m being optimistic here because I have no choice.  However, this doesn’t address the need to get a lefty out in the fifth or sixth inning. 

With the Dario Alvarez injury and the ineffectiveness of Eric O’Flaherty, the Mets are not going to have a LOOGY in the mold of Pedro Feliciano for the playoffs. In fact, that leaves the Mets with one effective lefty in the bullpen, Sean Gilmartin, who has reverse splits and is better suited as the long man.  So where do the Mets go from here?
Let’s start with who’s not an option. We know Jerry Blevins is out for the season. I’ve also seen and heard rumblings from people for the Mets to look at Josh Smoker. There’s some problem with Smoker. First, he’s never pitched above AA. Second, his stats are deceiving. At 26, he’s old for that level thereby skewing his stats a bit. Lastly, he hasn’t pitched in over 10 days. His season is over, and I presume he shut it down. If so, he’s not ready. 

So that leaves Hansel Robles to get the lefties out. Looking at his splits, he gets lefties out better than a LOOGY ever could. He is limiting them to .188/.250/.438. Sure, it seems odd using a RHP to get out a lefty, but I’m more interested in effectiveness than appearance. I wonder if Terry Collins will see it that way, or will he bring in Gilmartin to get a lefty out in a big spot?

With Adrian Gonzalez, and to a lesser extent Andre Ethier, on the horizon, it’s an issue that needs to be figured out sooner rather than later. 

Matt Harvey IS Ricky Vaughn

With the hand-wringing over Matt Harvey, I noted that he’s not Billy Chapel. He’s not an aging veteran seeking that one last chance at glory. No, he’s Ricky Vaughn

Ricky Vaughn came bursting on the scene armed with a high 90s fastball. He was there to strike you out. He was a fiery competitor who only cared about domination and winning. That was Matt Harvey in 2013. The man put the team on his back every five days. He was there just to beat you, and he was as intense as they come:

  
Unfortunately, Harvey needed Tommy John surgery. Like Ricky Vaughn in Major League II, Harvey figured out he now had a career to consider. Instead of a publicist, he has Scott Boras trying to guide his career. Eventually, the fans turned on Ricky Vaughn. 

It seems like Mets fans have turned on Matt Harvey. I guess we’ll really find out how much on Sunday. However, before you boo him, remember how the story ends:

When his team needed him most, he was given the ball. The fans loved him. The manager made a ponderous decision. The fallen star pitched his team to the World Series. If you’re a Mets fan, you can see all of this happening. 

There’s greatness in Harvey. Never forget that. I know he will be there when he’s needed, and he’s going to deliver. 

Wilmer Flores

With playoff baseball coming, it becomes difficult to get that thunderous applause with gloves on. Here’s an alternative (I guess) for when Wilmer Flores is announced. 

TENtative Concerns

So there was no movement in the magic number for the second straight day.  While I’m enjoying the series, but I’m not ready to move on to Shingo Takatsu as of yet, especially with the potential that the number may hold until Friday night. 

I could discuss the managers who have worn the number, but that would limit me to Terry Collins and Jeff Torborg. With respect to Collins, I’ve written a lot about him, so I wouldn’t be breaking any new ground. With Torborg, his teams were terrible, but it’s not like his firing was a positive. If you don’t believe me, go ask Generation K

The reason I’m moving on is because:

No, it’s not seven with 17 remaining, but it could be with a Nationals win tomorrow. There are enough Mets fans needlessly panicking that this is the 2007 season all over again. I guess a loss to the Marlins can do that, especially two straight losses. As a symbolic gesture, I’m not picking another 10 as I think it’s time to move on. Not just from the Takatsu’s of the world, but from the concept of another collapse. 

This is not the same team. This is a different season. I’ve been just as harmed as the next Mets fan by that season, but I don’t see the need to make it my focus. I’m more concerned about the playoff roster. You should be as well. I’m more concerned as to pick for the remaining magic numbers as I’m confident the Mets will get it done. 

With that said, I’m moving on. I hope you will too. 

The Mets Lost, They’re Not Collapsing

Look, I can write a big long post about all the Mets failures tonight from the all righty lineup to being shut out to losing 2 of 3 to the Marlins again.  I’m not going to do that.

It was a 6-0 loss. Just because you lose to the Marlins, it doesn’t mean it’s 2007 all over again. I know Mets fans were upset over Eric Campbell playing. The lefties need a day off. It’s the benefit of having a large lead. 

If you want to find something to be upset about, be upset about the regulars not contributing against a left-handed pitcher. The lineup still had David WrightYoenis CespedesTravis d’Arnaud, and Wilmer Flores [standing ovation]. The lineup accumulated three hits. Two from Wright and one from Michael Cuddyer. In the NLDS, the Mets will see better lefties than Adam Conley in Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood

So yes, Bartolo Colon gave up two solo homeruns (and one other earned run) and Tyler Clippard gave up one homerun himself. The rest of the bullpen, Hansel Robles aside, was ineffective. All of this creates a loss, not a collapse. 

The Mets play quasi-meaningful games against the Yankees this weekend. If the Mets throw out some clunkers then, I’ll consider getting nervous. Right now, I’m just happy the Mets are getting the slumps out if the way against the Marlins in games that do not matter. 

Everyone’s Jumping on the Bandwagon

Mets fans seemingly want to “Take Back New York.”  Now that it seems to be on the verge of happening, Mets fans seem displeased. They’re complaining about the wave or the fact these bandwagon fans have the same shot the diehard fan has at getting postseason tickets. 

I don’t care about bandwagon fans per se. These people are the ones who help create sellout crowds. They buy the new gear. They visit the blogs (hello!). They care about the Mets . . . just not as much as diehard fans do. That doesn’t mean they’re not on our side [now], and it doesn’t mean we can dictate how much they are allowed to enjoy all of this. It also doesn’t mean we need to give them a crash course on how to be a Mets fan. 

They’ve been fans on their own terms, and we’re not going to change that. The only ones who can are the Mets. With the way the Mets are playing, who knows?  Maybe they get swept up I all of this, and they become diehard fans. 

If they do become diehards, they can make their seats on the bandwagon permanent. 

Cespedes Could’ve Been the MLB MVP

There has been a lot of discussion for Yoenis Cespedes as an NL MVP candidate. I understand the discussion even if I do not believe there is much merit to these discussions. The reason is Cespedes will have only played 36% of the season in the National League. Furthermore, with an NL MVP, you can only take his NL stats into consideration. 

However, Cespedes is neck and neck with Josh Donaldson for the MLB MVP Award right now. The reason why Cespedes’ candidacy improves here is you can now look at the totality of his stats, which are impressive. He is hitting .296/.332/.558. This includes 35 homeruns and 103 RBIs (he’s Top 10 in both categories). His 6.9 WAR ranks fifth in MLB. He’s a viable candidate. 

The only problem is the award doesn’t exist. While there were predecessors to the MVP award, the awards as we know them now started in 1931. At that time, there was a separate award given for the NL and the AL. This has continued until the present day despite the fact that Interleague Play started in 1997. With Bud Selig forcing the Astros into the AL, Interleague Play runs throughout the schedule, by necessity. 

Right now, MLB is the only sport that doesn’t have one unified MVP. In the NFL, a team plays 25% of its schedule against the other conference. In the NBA, a team plays 34% of its games against the other conference. In the NHL, a team plays 34% of its games against the other league. In MLB, it’s only 12% of their games. 

So yes, the other sports play a larger percentage of their games against the other league. However, that’s not the reason why there won’t be one unified MLB MVP. The reason mostly boils down to the fact that there are contract incentives tied to MVP vote results. There is no way the Player’s Association would ever permit fewer awards because that means less bonus money available to its players. 

Honestly, I like the idea of baseball having two separate leagues with their own rules.  I’m not a fan of the DH, but it does create a separation between the NL and AL. That separation is a key reason why I believe MLB can justify having two MVPs. Unfortunately, that means Cespedes won’t win an award he may very well could have earned. 

How Serious is the Cespedes MVP Talk?

I remember Opening Day in 2006. The Mets fans entered this season with a lot of hope, more hope than they’ve had in a long time. Much of it was fueled by their budding young stars, Jose Reyes and David Wright

When Wright hit a sixth inning homerun, I remember the fans starting an MVP chant. I joined in on it. It wasn’t serious. It was just fun. I remember chuckling afterwards. I also remember Mike & Dog blowing a gasket over that and Billy Wagner‘s entrance music. I was reminded of that day when I saw this last night:

These fans seem to be having the same fun we did in 2006. If it’s all in fun, I’m on board. If it’s to show Yoenis Cespedes some love, I’m on board. If the fans are serious, you’ve lost me

Look, I love things that are fun for the fans. However, if this is a real push, you’ve lost me. He’s not the MVP of the National League or the Mets. Instead, he’s an amazing story that can lead the Mets to more amazing stories in the playoffs. 

Maybe then I’ll agree with the MVP sentiments.