In many ways, the Mets could not have asked for a better first week--winning 4 of 6 with superb starting pitching right throughout the homestand punctuated by a walk -off come from behind win on Sunday. Critics of the Mets might point to the fact the competition was not exactly the '27 Yankees but don't expect the Mets to share that opinion.
"We know what the baseball world thinks of us", says Marlon Byrd who cracked Sunday's game winning hit,"but that does not matter. What matters is what we feel in this clubhouse and we all know what we are capable of doing." Byrd's story is an interesting one because he decided to go play winter ball to prove to the baseball world he could play after a sub-par year soiled by a 50 game suspension for using performance enhancing drugs.
"The fact he went down there says a lot about him", says Met second basemen Daniel Murphy,"and how much he loves this game. And we have a bunch of players on this team like that--players with ability that have much to prove.'" Murphy is spot on because spending this first week with the Mets you can feel a vibe around CitiField--a vibe to prove the world wrong. But in this sport you need more than a belief to win--you need talent and this pitching staff has some of that. Matt Harvey is the first of the young bucks to hit the majors and he displays a quiet confidence that very few young players possess. He will get another chance to strut his stuff tonight in Philly as he faces Roy Halladay but don't expect him to back down.
"There is a subtle difference between cockiness and confidence", says Met manager Terry Collins, "and this kid knows that. He prepares as well as any young pitcher I've ever seen and Met fans will begin to realize how special he is in short order." I've been around many young pitchers in my 25+ years of covering baseball and I think Harvey fits in the mold of guys like Matt Cain to the extent that when he fine tunes his game, he will be the type of guy hitters dread to face. But he is not the only Met hurler that fits into that mold. Zack Wheeler will be here by mid-season and coupled with Jon Niese, will give the Mets a trio of starters as good as any three-some in baseball. Sprinkle a little bit of Dillon Gee and a healthy Shaun Marcum and you have the makings of a very good top to bottom rotation.
For at least a week, Met fans got a glimpse of that. But we all know it is a long season and many a Met year has been short-circuited in Philly which is their next stop on the schedule. They face a team that has to contend with a huge payroll coupled with aging players that are either coming off of injuries or sub-par seasons. In many ways, these 2 teams are on opposite sides of the spectrum--an aging former champion against a team that is very much poised to see the fruits of a rebuilding process in the next 12-18 months. 2013 will be a year in which the Mets will show flashes of brilliance but will also experience some growing pains. They will play hard and wow us with their resiliency as they did yesterday.
Met fans should know that every glimpse of this team's pedigree will serve this organization well going forward and who knows--they may surprise us the rest of the way much in the way they have in the season's first 6 games. That is why we play the games folks and that is why games are not won on paper. In this Sabre-Metric baseball world, we sometimes forget that but we should rely on our eyes more than our stat sheet. That is the way this sport has always been.