The Mets went out to San Francisco and swept the Giants for the first time in forever. This is on the heels of taking two-of-three from the Brewers in Milwaukee. That came after a seven-game homestand which saw the team go 3-4. And before that was the thought-to-be-grueling 11-game swing through Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chicago and Colorado. They went 7-4 and could just as easily have gone 9-2.
See anything interesting?
Overall, the Mets have a 23-21 record away from Queens. You can do the math to figure out the home record. It should come out to ten games under .500. The problem, oddly enough, doesn’t seem to be the offense at home, but the pitching. The run differential at home is (-58), on the road it’s (+2). Power doesn’t really play into this, either: they’ve hit 46 home runs on the road, 40 at home — statistically, not that significant. For a team built on pitching, playing in a park built for pitching, this is kind of a head-scratcher. As much as I hate to invoke “intangibles,” those dreaded mental elements which can’t be quantified, they might be the biggest factors. Citi Field just might be a little too relaxing for the Mets’ mound men.
In any case, their success on these past couple of road trips points to a whole other set of intangibles, what many might call heart, grit, perseverance or resilience. There’s something about these guys… Your intrepid columnist is reminded of the goings on during September, 1973. It’s been forty years since the mini-Miracle – an anniversary which the current administration is loathe to celebrate, for some silly reason – but its atmosphere seems to permeate. There’s the terrific book by Met expert Matt Silverman. There’s the hot and sticky New York summer. There’s a President under the gun – from an eavesdropping scandal, to boot! No wonder I’ve been listening almost exclusively to the “1973” playlist on my iPod for the past two weeks. So in between grooving to “Shambala” and “Photograph,” I’ve noticed that the Mets do not seem to be surrendering games, innings or even at-bats as they had been at the beginning of the year. Case in point: on April 29, they lost in Miami in 15 mostly listless innings. Fast forward to July 8, when they recovered from a rare Matt Harvey off-night and some late-inning defensive robberies by the Giants to score the first win of the sweep. Something like that has to do with attitude as well as ability. Suddenly, the quit seems to have left. Now, will they go on a true miracle run and challenge the Braves for the division? Probably not, of course. The brand of baseball they’re playing right now is most enjoyable, but the odds on it being sustainable are pretty long. To get to the 89 wins or so that it would take to grab the second Wild Card slot, they’ll have to go 45-29 – basically .600 ball in the second half. A herculean task, to be sure, but isn’t defying long odds what rooting for this team is all about?
It might be fun to watch them try.
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