The first half ended with a bang, the second began with a whimper. In game #81, attended by a Citi Field record 42,516 souls – of which I was one – that rare bird, a Met laugher, the Mets became a 44-37 team. As Jonathon Niese set down Phillie after Phillie, as Daniel Murphy flirted with history, as David Wright repeatedly broke Shane Victorino’s heart and this one was put to be early, I couldn’t help but think ahead to what the rest of July, August and September would bring. As the postgame fireworks popped and Gary Cohen took us through a Readers’ Digest version of fifty years of Metsian history, hilarity and hysteria, I could only think that if they duplicate what they did in the first half…
As has been noted elsewhere, the second eighty-one has historically not been kind to those true to the orange and blue. My friend Jason Fry broke down the sad lexicon in the aftermath of Tuesday night’s win.
After eighty-one games in each season, the Mets were:
2009 – 39-42, or almost respectable, amid the ambulance parade.
2010 – 45-36 and leading the Wild Card race
2011 – 41-40 and a scant three games out of first
That those teams finished with totals of 70, 79 and 77 wins respectively, should be a sobering caveat for all but the most rabid of fanboys. Nevertheless, your intrepid columnist will try and make a case that the past is not prologue and that this year is different, damn it. For one thing, they have a chance to turn around their somewhat disappointing tally in “toss-up” games, now up to 11-16 after the Dodger series. With a smart bullpen pickup or two – Come on, Sandy! Don’t fail me now! – this trend can be reversed. It’ll take some add-on runs and a non-pudding bullpen, but it can be done. Another welcoming trend is that their run differential has caught up with their record. Their actual record and their Pythaogrean record both stand at 44-38 after yesterday’s loss to Philly, yet another bullpen implosion/embarrassment. So there’s no mean to regress to, seeing as they’re at the mean. Finally, they have 20 games outside their division against six of the weaker teams in the National League. 20 games against the Cubs, the Padres, the Rockies, the Astros, the Diamond Backs and the Brewers. There were series’ in the first half against each and the Mets went a collective 9-9 in those contests. The old axiom goes that you beat up on the “weak sisters” and play .500 against the quality teams. The first half Mets played to the opposite of that old saw. I’m holding out hope that 9-9 can morph into 24-14, while they continue to thrive within the NL East and against the other “elites” of the league. Having just taken a quick look, I see that it’s probably all going to come down to how they do against Washington that will decide their fate, anyway.
It is eminently possible that the Mets can at least duplicate their 44 first half wins and be in Wild Card country. Is it probable? Of course not.
What has been probable this year?
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley