With baseball season upon us once again I am forced to acknowledge our capacity for self-delusion. This takes many forms, from “Sure I spent this entire semester in the campus rathskeller, but I think I can pass the final” to “Yes I am grotesque, but I think Rihanna really would like to go out with me.” As a long suffering Mets fan the equivalent is, “This year they are finally playoff caliber.” Unlike the case with other delusional utterances, a brief review of the Mets reveals why baseball taunts us.
Last year, as in multiple seasons past, the Mets finished well out of the money, at 79-83. However 29 of the defeats were in one-run games and 14 were by two-run deficits. If the Mets could convert just half of the one-run contests and one-third of the two run games, that would represent a turnaround of 19 games. The result would be a 98 victory season, matching 2014’s best record in all baseball (posted by the Angels) and well ahead of the 88-74 records San Fran and Pittsburgh earned for the bottom playoff spots in the National League.
In fact consider how a few moves could have done the trick last year. Nelson Cruz banged 40 home runs, 108 RBI’s and a .271 batting average and as a free agent signing would have cost about as much as the person the 2014 Mets opted for instead, Chris Young (8-28-.205). Moreover the Mets traded someone they had on the roster, Marlon Byrd, who went on to produce 25-85-.264, relying instead on Eric Young Jr. (1-17-.229). The run differential, 148, spread evenly over the season easily would allow the conversion of the one-run and two-run games cited above.
Having said that, as the saying goes, if I had wings… The simple fact is that Mets executives did not make those moves last year (when 90 wins was suggested by management as a realistic goal) or this and yet again treats the team as a fine wine that will improve with age.
However despite what my mind tells me, like Charlie Brown running to kick the football my heart beats with the prospect of a 2015 playoff-caliber season. Now if only I could get Rihanna’s phone number…