The Long Run

By  Taryn “the Coop” Cooper

It’s funny what a roller coaster of emotions we’ve been through as a fan base this season.  From Gary Carter passing away prior to the season, the 50th anniversary celebrations, to RA Dickey’s magnificent season, David Wright’s hot start, Ike Davis’ slow start, and then of course, the piece de resistance, Johan Santana’s no-hitter, the first ever in Mets history.

In a week and change after that though, it’s funny how all that goodwill can change.  As a sports fan, I’ve been through a roller coaster of emotions myself, with the Rangers being eliminated in the Eastern Conference Finals a few days before, and participating in my first-ever Banner Day with the Mets.

The Mets were swept this past weekend against the cross-town rival Yankees, in a dramatic fashion in a game they should have won on Sunday.  They lost two of three to the Nationals, who are now in first place – first place! Let that one sink in for a minute.  Although in the last 10 games, they are 4-6, and have been playing less than inspiring baseball, the fact remains this team is still three games over .500.

That’s some kind of mental win, right?

First things first, the NL East is up for grabs.  Do I think the Nationals have a good shot at winning it?  Yeah, maybe, but then again the Braves and Marlins are up there too (and let’s not forget about that whole second Wild Card thing going on).  The point is, the only thing I can be remotely happy about is that the wheels are falling off the Phillies’ phrontrunner bandwagon.

But the Mets are curious.  If you look at their schedule for the next coming days, they face the Reds (first place), the Rays (first place) and the Yankees (second place, but breathing down the necks of the Rays and just swept the Mets over the weekend).

What does this mean?

That June swoon is more real than ever.  And this month will really show some insight how this team will function in the long run.

Good news: the starting pitching hasn’t been as questionable.  Throwing Johan Santana’s last start out the window, he’s been better than expected coming back from that injury.   Then R.A. Dickey.  Wow.  As good as he’s been for the Mets overall, I don’t think anyone has planned for him to be as great as he’s been this year.  Jonathon Niese and Dillon Gee still have a lot of growing to do, but they’ve been formidable, and Chris Young could keep them in games (as long as his arm doesn’t fall off again).   David Wright has been great, and Scott Hairston has been marvelous off the bench and in his starts.

Bad news: Ike Davis can’t shake whatever it is Jason Bay gave him.  Shortstop has been a black hole since Ruben Tejada went down.  And the bullpen.  Don’t get me started on the bullpen.

Warts and all, this team has been mostly fun to watch.  But as I like to tell people, I generally don’t pay attention to standings until after All-Star Break, because that’s usually when the men and boys get separated.  And that you have a better chance of seeing how a team can operate in the long run.  That’s why it’s way too soon to make any predictions (especially in the NL East, that is a crapshoot so far…does anyone really think the Nationals can sustain this? Especially with Stephen Strasburg’s innings limits?).

And it’s way too soon to declare the Mets “suck” or “they’re worldbeaters.”

They’re neither at this time.

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