April 01, 2007

Playing Catch-Up: Opening Day, Here We Are!!!

Folks, sorry for the lack of updates the past few days- but I'm back in CA, and, in fact, had a chance to catch the Dodgers-Angels game Friday night (thanks, Lynn), so in one week, I went from Hollywood, Florida, to Hollywood, California, catching the boys in blue- the Dodgers - but at least I had a chance to see our beloved Mets win Monday!!!

We'll catch up on a variety of subjects today, first of which is posting some more pics from Monday's game (with one more of Pelfrey from Sunday's game.) Next Spring, I'll have a brand new Nikon with a 12X Zoom, so the quality of the pics will be way better. As far as the game went, well, how much better can it get- perfect weather, hanging out with your best friend, hot dogs and beer, and a Mets' win over the Dodgers! Certainly, Spring Training "nirvana"!!!

Lately, the anti-Mets' bias has increased, and, without trying to come off sounding paranoid, it really feels as though the national media's bias against the Mets has grown exponentially after our great season last year. Yes, we have questions in the rotation and bullpen. Yes, we have some major injuries/suspensions to get through; and yes, other teams might have made some decent progress in the offseason - all true. However, we have a ton to be excited about, and, to that end, here are the possibilities for what can go right and what can go wrong this season.

The Carlos's, Beltran and Delgado, repeat their 2006 numbers; David Wright puts together an entire season of dominance; Jose Reyes improves on his Honus Wagner-like 2006 season; PLD continues to thrive in the 2-hole and maintains his fountain of youth; Jose Valentin does exactly what he did in 2006; if Shawn Green falters, Lastings Milledge steps right in and reaches his potential; Moises Alou remains healthy and productive all season; Joe Smith makes everyone forget about Chad Bradford; Mota comes back from his suspension hitting high-90's with his heater; Pedro and Duaner come back in July or August and add significant boost to the staff; Pelfrey performs like Verlander did in '06; Wagner remains Wagner; Maine shows us that last year was a portent of what is to come; Glavine not only reaches 300 victories, he reaches 315; O-Hern stays healthy for 90% of the season, and Humber provides the other 10%; Dave Williams comes back from his injury and just can't crack the team; Omar, faced with the chance to trade for some one-season pitching help at the cost of a top prospect, simply says "no"...

Either or both Carlos have any long-term injury; Green has nothing left and Milledge can't bring up the pace; PLD ages quickly and has 1/2 of a good season; Valentin reverts to pre-2006 form and no decent second-sacker is available; Reyes gets hurt; Wright becomes inconsistent again; Mota comes back, without his steroids-enhanced heater; Wagner breaks down; neither Pedro nor Duaner comes back; Schoeneweis loses his touch; Smith's spring success was an illusion; Pelfrey is over-matched; Maine's control leaves him; the rest of the bullpen proves inadequate; none of their young players are ready to make an impact in the majors; Glavine becomes hittable; O-Hern is injured repeatedly; we have to sign a pitcher a la Lima; the Braves get starting pitching, a first baseman and a second baseman; the Phillies get a bullpen; the Marlins get healthy...

The bottom line is this - unless half of those things that can go wrong, do go wrong, the Mets are a lock for a Division title; if Pedro and/or Sanchez come back successfully and some of the younger pitchers produce as predicted, this is the team to beat all the way to the World Series.

In last week's Sports Illustrated, they feature their annual baseball preview, which, among other things, predicts the Angels to beat the Dodgers in the World Series- and there goes my chance to see some success in SoCal! More importantly, they feature what has been, by far, the best article I have read on Dice-K this offseason. You can read Verducci's great article by clicking here. Verducci also has another book coming out this May, entitled "Is This A Great Game or What?" and we can't wait to read it!

Some great baseball books from the off-season (more in-depth reviews will be posted later this month) - The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O'Neil's America; A Well-Paid Slave: Curt Flood's Fight for Free Agency in Professional Sports; After Jackie; The Cheater's Guide to Baseball; and a few about to be released: The Psychology of Baseball: Inside the Mental Game of the Major League Player, and Once Upon a Game: Baseball's Greatest Memories. We'll review each of them over the next month.

Finally, tonight is OPENING DAY, as we face the hated Cards - Glavine vs. Carpenter - and the game is opposite Wrestlemania. We won't be able to post today, but we'll be back tomorrow with our thoughts on opening day, as well as some predictions for the rest of the teams in baseball.

LET'S GO METS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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