By Joe Giglio
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Heading into the 2013 season, the predictions of doom in Flushing and mediocrity in the Bronx were met with skepticism by many baseball fans and followers in New York.
If Ike Davis could carry over his second half of 2012 into this season, Travis d’Arnaud could come up and provide offense behind the plate and Ruben Tejada could be the on-base machine he looked like a few years ago, then maybe the Mets would give their fans something to root for all summer long.
If the Yankees could pitch and get bounce-back years from Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner and Kevin Youkilis — not to mention get an All-Star season out of Robinson Cano — then Joe Girardi’s team could find a way. And he could do so without all of those strikeout-prone, injured, non-clutch “stars” that couldn’t do anything in the American League Championship Series loss to Detroit last October.
For a little while, the optimistic, glass-half-full fan felt good.
John Buck was smashing everything in sight, Matt Harvey became a Cy Young contender and Lyle Overbay and Youkilis made fans forget about Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez.
Of course, over the long haul, reality began to set in. Predictions, while sometimes very wrong, are rooted in logic.
The smart logic pointed to another disastrous season in Queens. It pointed to an outfield without real outfielders, a rebuilding project years from completion, a first baseman who’s only consistency is inconsistency and a lame-duck manager searching for answers.
The idea of mediocrity in the Bronx seemed far-fetched considering the success of the past two decades. But the roster looked average, reliant on an older pitching staff to dominate in order to stay afloat. The manger needed to push every button correctly, and the general manager seemed more interested in heeding ownership demands of a smaller payroll than doing what it would take to get back to a World Series.
Eight years ago, Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green had a line that’s now become infamous in sports: “They are who we thought they were.”
The context and hilarity of that moment was meant for the aftermath of a debilitating Monday Night Football loss to the eventual NFC champion Chicago Bears, but the meaning can be applied to the respective New York baseball teams in 2013.
We thought that the Mets were bad. We thought that the Yankees were slightly better than mediocre.A few good nights here and there shouldn’t have changed the logic, but as with all fans, it did.
Optimism set in, expectations changed and the origins of the story were forgotten. As the rest of this summer moves along, remember what you expected while reacting to how the season plays out in New York.
It’s hard to watch days like Thursday at Citi Field, when a mostly empty stadium watches Matt Harvey take a loss on a day that he deserved to win. The team was supposed to be years away from actual contention, but at times it feels like it will be decades.
It was excruciating to watch the Yankees — especially the 0-for-28 quartet of Teixeira, Youkilis, Hafner and Wells — stumble across 18 innings of ugly baseball in Oakland, swept away by a younger and better Athletics team.
Many adjectives can be used to describe the current state of the baseball teams in this town — confounding, annoying, disappointing, unbearable — but one can’t be used with a straight face: surprising.
From the moment that spring training opened until today, the Mets were pegged to be bad and the Yankees looked like a team that would struggle to reach October.
Three months later, that’s exactly who they are.
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