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The Other Side of Mediocrity

Mike SteffanosFriday, August 26, 2005
By Mike Steffanos

Mets 3 - Arizona 1

I was exhausted watching the game last night. If I possessed the smallest amount of sanity and common sense I would have just gone to bed, but I was curious. After all the months of clinging to .500 like a security blanket, were the Mets finally ready to legitimize themselves as contenders?

I have to confess that after 35 years of rooting for this team I've come to look at hope as a dangerous thing. I doubt that makes me unique among veteran Met fans. I try to keep hope reigned in as much as possible to avoid disappointment, but I know it's there -- you can't root for a team like this for so long without the capacity to hope that things might change for the better.

There were times this year that I thought the Mets might be ready to take the step they took this week. In June when they won the Cliff Floyd game against the Angels I thought they were on the verge, but they lost the next day and then had that awful trip to Oakland and Seattle. At different times since then they have dropped opportunities like they were hand grenades. In sports, the biggest leap is not from bad to decent, it's the next step from mediocre to winning contender.

The game last night was eerily reminiscent of some truly awful losses from earlier this year. Pedro struggled early, the offense scored a couple of runs and then went to sleep, and then Heilman was awful when he came in. Hernandez gives up the homerun to Tracy that hit the top of the fence and bounces over -- and yet they won. For a change, the big breaks are going their way.

They're still facing a brutal stretch of road games that might yet kill this season. The bullpen is still suspect, Beltran disappoints, the offense is up and down, and we worry about Pedro and Benson holding up physically. Most of the teams that Mets are chasing are arguably better than they are. Hell, they might not make it out of San Francisco with our optimism intact. For all of that, I can see this team really contending down the stretch, and I'm going to enjoy this for however long it lasts.

The voice on the milk carton...

Matt Cerone at MetsBlog had an opinion piece this afternoon about how hard it is to listen to Fran Healy on Mets telecasts, and asks the question "did someone tie up Keith Hernandez and hide him in the basement at Shea"?

Fran Healy aside, the continued absence of Keith from the broadcast booth is more than just inexplicable, it is offensive to me as a Mets fan. When I turn on a Mets game and find Keith on the telecast I know that my viewing experience is going to be better. He not only makes the game a better listen, his presence makes the other broadcasters better.

He did a game with Seaver one weekend a while back on channel 11. As an old Mets fan, I have a high regard for Seaver from his playing days, but face it -- Seaver just sleepwalks through those weekend games, picks up a check and goes home to California for the week. I'll be damned if teaming with Hernandez didn't pick up Seaver's game. It was the best weekend listen of the year by far.

I don't know what the Mets have against Keith Hernandez that keeps his appearances in the booth so rare. It's hurting the telecasts, and it's a disservice to fans.

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