By Rich Coutinho
» More Columns
This was supposed to be a rebuilding year; a season in which the Mets were going to be doormats of the National League East.
By Memorial Day, general manager Sandy Alderson was supposed to be in full “salary dump” mode. One brainless media expert even told me that the team would lose more than 100 games.
Well, I have a newsflash for you: the Mets woke up Monday morning in a virtual tie atop the NL East, and only two teams in all of baseball–the Dodgers and Rangers–have more wins than New York.
The Cardinals finally scored a run last night in the Mets’ 6-1 win, and that broke a 25-inning scoreless streak for the Redbirds. To put that in perspective, the last time they were blanked for that many frames some guy named Joe Torre was managing them. That 25-inning streak was the second longest in the majors this year. The only reason it was not the longest is the Mets hurlers twirled 28 innings of scoreless ball back in late May.
How good have the starters been? Well, since May 25 they are 7-0 with a 1.38 ERA, striking out 69 hitters in 65 innings.
Speaking of Ks, all I heard in spring training from those experts is the Mets rotation was paper-thin and had no swing-and-miss guys.
This staff has 18 double-digit strikeout games, second only to the Washington Nationals in all of baseball. The other piece of propaganda I heard in spring training was New York would have trouble with the better teams. And since most of those knuckleheads picked the Mets for last, that meant most of the league.
Wrong yet again.
The Mets have 20 wins against teams with a better than .500 record, and that is tops in the National League.
The thing I had the most trouble with going into the season was dismissing the notion that the health of both David Wright and Johan Santana would improve the chances for the Mets in 2012. Santana is a two-time Cy Young award winner with the heart of a lion and the stamina of a teenager. Sure he was coming off an injury, but anyone that knows Johan knows that his competitive fire would rise to the surface. As for David Wright, he’s been a perennial All-Star, that’s all. A guy who is everything you want from a superstar both on and off the field.
As the season opened, most Mets fans felt there was no point in optimism. The consensus was this team would be the doormats of this division. But over the last few weeks, I felt the fan base evolving. This team is fun to watch, and after the events of this past weekend, I think most of them are “all in.” And quite frankly, they should be. We are one-third through the season and the Mets are eight games over .500. But more than that, this team has the “It” factor that winning teams possess.
The next few weeks will be tough–facing the Nationals, Yankees and Rays–after today’s game with the Redbirds but I can assure you this team is up for the challenge. They bring focus, determination and passion to the field every day.
Are there more talented teams out there? Absolutely. But I don’t know if that matters to them — and that is the magic of baseball.
We don’t play this game on a fantasy baseball computer app to get our desired result. And that is the game all the experts played in March. It has made for a wonderful story in the first weekend of June. Comeback wins, a no-hitter, young players making their marks, knuckleball pitchers becoming strikeout machines.
That’s all happened already in 2012. But the Mets may be saving the best act in this play for the final weeks. I certainly would not bet against them.
Who do you think will have the last laugh — the prognosticators or the Amazin’s? Sound off below…