Another Phillie Fan Perspective

Yesterday’s Q&A with Bill Baer brought so much banter that I thought it would be nice to bring in another Phillies fan. The following is a guest column written by a longtime rival (we are friends AFTER the baseball season ends) who used to regularly write a sports column for an esteemed college newspaper about a hundred years ago (OK, maybe more like 15 or 20, but it was before Al Gore invented the internet and global warming, so it feels like a hundred years ago). In any case, the following is written by Tom Maguire, aka “The Earl of Sports”, and I hope you enjoy his phanatical perspective. – Joe

Preface

These are the musings of a former sports columnist (yes it was college, but it was before blogging and my nom-de-plume was “The Earl of Sports”) who is a die-hard Phillies fan. I took my then 5-year-old daughter to the championship parade in 2008 because you didn’t know if it was going to be another 28 years before we won another. I’ve also known Mets Today’s founder, Joe Janish, for many years and he figured it would be a good way to get Met fans all riled up, especially before an important series like this weekend’s games in Philadelphia.

I like Ike

I watched one of the Mets games last week and realized something: Ike Davis can play! As someone who has watched the Mets since the early 1980’s (and hated them as a Phillies fan), Met fans need someone like Ike: a talented, strong personality who can breathe some life into this team.

Déjà vu All Over Again

The start of the Met season was much like the Phillies were around 2000: yes you had a chance, but then again so did the Pirates (ok, not really, but you get the point). Just think about the starting 8 that waltzed out for Opening Day:

1. Alex Cora…utility guy
2. Luis Castillo…overpriced and tried to trade last winter because he had a career year in ‘09
3. David Wright…a younger Scott Rolen, a singles hitter without the defense
4. Fernando Tatis…a washed up utility guy
5. Jason Bay…the big bat you signed in the off-season can’t even hit cleanup?
6. Gary Mathews Jr…Sarge Jr. doesn’t hit like his pop
7. Jeff Francoeur…Run out of Atlanta and maybe on his last chance before he turns into Xavier Nady (a one-year guy teams sign on the cheap in February)
8. Rod Barajas…another part-time player

I hate to use the Sports Guy’s lines, but “Your 2010 Mets…the best team $130 million could buy???”

I know Beltran and Reyes were out, but for most fans, your favorite player is Daniel Murphy, a .250 hitter who would be a 4th outfielder or utility man on most teams!! This is not a team you’d stay up and watch during a west coast swing. Compare that to our lineup where five different players could hit cleanup (Rollins, Utley, Howard, Werth, and Ibanez) if they played for the Mets.

The Mets of today are like the Phillies in 2003. Every fan is going to root for their team no matter who they play (Marv Thronberry fans, speak up), but the Phillies had a team that wasn’t easy to root for. The best player, Scott Rolen, didn’t want to play here and the next best player, Bobby Abreu was someone you wanted on your fantasy team, not your real team. He’d rather take a walk in the 9th inning than try and make something happen with his bat (and don’t get me started on his fear of outfield walls).
Then, the culture changed in the clubhouse (a new stadium that wasn’t rat infested helped too). Chase Utley came up from the minors, we got Victorino as a Rule 5 pick, and Ryan Howard replaced an injured Jim Thome. When management got rid of Bobby Abreu for a bucket of balls from the Yankees a few summers later, the new leadership took over and propels this team to its newfound stardom. If you look in the stands, fans have everyone’s jersey — not just one player. Werth, Howard, Utley, Victorino, Rollins (a player most Phillies fans don’t like but respect his talent and wished he keep his trap shut), Hamels, Halladay, Brad Lidge, etc. They play hard, get clutch hits, never give up and win (when was the last time a Met team was down 4-1 on their last strike, and got a 3-run double to tie it, take a lead in the 10th, lose the lead in the bottom half, get two runs in their next at-bat, and barely hang on to win 7-6 as the Phils did yesterday to salvage a game against the Giants). 1986? This Phillies team has character. The Mets are just starting to develop its mojo.

Hope Springs Iketernal

This is what the Met fan is starting to see in their team. Ike could be the middle of the lineup thumper with Beltran and Wright in front of him and Bay and Francoeur behind. Reyes can set the table and pray that your starter goes more than 6 innings. It’s not a great team, but it gives you HOPE!! Ike does that.

Reality Bites

But even winning 9 out of 10, shouldn’t get the Met fan thinking playoffs just yet. Look at the pitchers you beat over the last home stand:

• John Ely
• Charlie Haeger
• Hiroki Kuroda
• Tommy Hanson
• Jair Jurrjens
• Kenshin Kawakami
• Tom Gorzelanny
• Carlos Zambrano
• James Russell

It’s not exactly Spahn and Sain. You beat up a Cubs team that finds ways to lose and a Braves team that stopped hitting once the weather dipped below 50 degrees. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice run, but it’s not like the Giants who’ve beaten Adam Wainwright and Roy Halladay in the last week. I know, you can only face the clowns that other teams trot out there, but beat the Phillies 2 out of 3 this weekend (including Roy Halladay over the weekend) and then I think you’ll feel this Met team has a chance in 2010. Get swept, and Janish has to talk all of you off the ledge. Again!!

So Says the Earl of Sports ….

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. JW April 30, 2010 at 10:36 am
    Thanks for the input. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
  2. Walnutz15 April 30, 2010 at 10:54 am
    “Meh”…..it’s typically hazardous to one’s health to attempt to speak with a Phillie fan.

    Take it from years of “debating” on message boards, this essentially proves it.

    He obviously doesn’t come here much, since he’s saying that Joe “talks us off the ledge” — Joe’s usually there with us, as the most honest and rational fans in the Met-community.

    No one’s trying to sugar-coat the Mets latest run, playing it off like we just knocked off the ’27 Yankees and Murderer’s Row for 9 out of 10….does it mean a Met fan shouldn’t enjoy it?

    Hardly.

    Good luck this weekend. We all know the flaws of our squad.

  3. Mike April 30, 2010 at 11:13 am
    Most of us believe the recent stretch is nothing definitive except that the Mets capitalized on other’s misfortunes and along the way started playing great baseball. Team often get on a roll beating up bad teams or getting lucky that your schedule lets you play a good team playing poorly. There’s nothing wrong with it.
  4. mooshinator April 30, 2010 at 11:22 am
    The Philly folks seem to be making an erroneous assumption, i.e. that Mets fans think the Mets are a powerhouse team.

    No, on the contrary, Mets fans are harder on their team than anybody. The team has numerous flaws and we know it. But our team is playing competitive baseball for the first time in a while, and it’s exciting! If you consistently play competitive baseball and put yourself in a position to win games, then you never know what can happen. A few lucky breaks and a deadline trade might be enough to make the playoffs.

    I do disagree with the focus that both Bill and Tom put on the Mets offense. The opening day lineup (or last Wednesday’s lineup) doesn’t reflect the Mets ‘A’ Lineup. On the contrary, what we see today IS the Mets ‘A’ pitching staff. I fully expect the Mets offense to be quite good and the Mets pitching to be a persistent problem.

  5. Tyler April 30, 2010 at 1:11 pm
    dude where are you finding these guys? fernando tatis, alex cora, and daniel murphy will have little to nothing to do with how successful we are. knocking bay for being the protection we need behind the 4 spot while beltrans out? are you kidding me?
  6. Paul April 30, 2010 at 1:13 pm
    it’s nice and all to be lulled to sleep by such inferior bloggers and baseball fans once in a while, but twice in a row?? wake me when it’s over!
  7. steve April 30, 2010 at 2:34 pm
    Don’t you love it when some “I think I know everything” blogger points out a flaw for the team he doesn’t like and doesn’t do the same for his team? Look at that great SF game where the phillies came back to win. Look at how Lincecum was taken out in the 9th inning after giving up his first walk of the game, still having a 4-1 lead. Don’t try to con yourself – if Lincecum wasn’t taken out in one of the dumbest managerial moves ever, Philly would have lost that game as well. If you want to go position for position, sure I’ll give you the right side of the infield with Howard and Utley, but the Mets get the left – and no, Rollins isn’t better then Reyes no matter how many times you tell yourself he is. As for the outfield, I’ll take Bay over Ibanez (.219), call center a wash, although Victorino’s .225 average makes me consider Pagan more and give you Werth over Francouer (statistically not by much). As for catchers, Ruiz and Barajas are pretty close in most regards. Pitching? Hmmm…would I take Santana (3-1 2.08)/Pelfrey (4-0 0.69)/Niese (0-1 3.68)/Maine (1-1 7.15)/Perez (0-2 4.35) or Halladay (4-1 1.80)/Hammels (2-2 5.28)/Moyer (2-2 5.25)/Kendrick (0-0 7.71) and whoever you put in the 5 spot? Let’s just say Halladay can’t pitch 162 games.
  8. Erich Shafer May 1, 2010 at 12:11 am
    Hey, I love the rivalry, but Philly fans are the only fans that I can definitively say are more absurd than New York fans. Being from Syracuse, and somehow growing up to be a mets fan during what I like to call the Chico Walker era (Chico pinch hitting in the ninth and taking a called third strike to end our 95th loss or something of the sort) I like to think I stand outside the absurdity. Absurdity like during the first week of the season Adam Rubin declaring that Omar had not assembled enough talent to compete in the NL East, and most fans agreeing with him, and Philly fans clamoring for the Kevin Kolb era. This is one of the more absurd Philly fan blogs I have ever read. David Wright a singles hitter- Scott Rolen without the D? You do know almost 40% of David’s hits have been for extra bases, right? 40+ doubles and 26+ homers in every full year he’s played and he’s a gold glove winner. Ike Davis the savior? I’ll settle for a nice complementary piece. Oh, and Murphy is a carrier .275 hitter, not .250. Zambrano, Jurjens, Hanson, Gorzelanny all quality pitchers. Any neutral fan would certainly take Bay, or Wright over Rollins, Werth, or Ibanez as a cleanup hitter. And you want to just discount that two multiple all stars in Beltran and Reyes started on the DL? Take away the top 4-5 catchers in baseball and Barajas is no worse than all the rest. I’m not saying this is the ’86 mets, bet this is a lot of smack talk in support of one of the biggest losing teams of all time. The Mets are a Beltran return and a trade deadline move for a solid #2-3 starter from being right in the running for the NL pennant. Better hope Doc (not the real Dr K) brings his a game tomorrow, or the Phils will be staring at a sweep and a 3.5 game deficit.
  9. joe bourgeois May 1, 2010 at 12:10 pm
    Get swept, and Janish has to talk all of you off the ledge. Again!!

    So Says the Earl of Sports ….

    Nice call, Earl.

  10. The Earl of Sports May 3, 2010 at 1:09 pm
    This is the same old Mets I saw on Sunday night and I realized that there wasn’t a big difference between the two teams in terms of talent (basically I’m saying that both teams have holes). There big difference between my Phillies and your Metropolitans: character. You’re best pitcher got pounded, but worse was when you gave up the nine runs in the fourth and were down 11-5, you only had one baserunner the rest of the game (a walk to Bay in the 8th). I want to see what the Mets do tonight against Cincinnati. If they lose 4-0, then you know a skid is coming. Come back and put up 5-8 runs like you did on Friday night, and then you’ll know that this team is maturing and can bounce back after a loss.