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A Historic Victory for Pedro, a Significant One for the Mets

Mike SteffanosTuesday, April 18, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

So Pedro manages to grab his historic 200th career win last night, in the process helping the Mets build a historic 5-game lead on the Braves. While it's silly to place undue significance on April baseball, it was extremely important for the Mets to set the tone early in 2006. Maybe we can't bury the Braves yet, but we can send them scampering back to Atlanta with a few doubts.

As Omar was constructing this team during this past off-season, Braves writers were haughtily comparing the winter of 2005-06 to the unfortunate winter of 2001-02, as if Carlos Delgado was Mo Vaughn, and Billy Wagner was Kevin Appier. The natural order of things demanded that everything the Braves touch turns to gold, while what the Mets touch turns to something that is much less precious and smells a whole lot worse. (Hint: you'll often find this substance on the unwashed hands of Braves' fans when they exit the bathroom.)

[Note: I meant to say Shawn Estes in the above paragraph rather than Kevin Appier. I do realize they were traded for each other, but got caught up in my own little literary moment. Sorry folks.]

Maybe that's the way it will eventually play out in 2006, and I'll spend another winter curled up in the fetal position, cursing the gods of baseball and screaming out, "why damn it, why?" But this year, as early as it is, has a different feel to it. Admit it -- when the Mets failed to pad their lead last night, and the game progressed, you were just waiting for that moment when something bizarre would turn the game in the Braves favor. I still haven't regained my normal heartbeat since that moment when Nady caught Andruw Jones' flyball at the fence. When Lo Duca had to throw Todd Pratt out at first to end the game, there was that one split-second when you could picture that throw sailing over Delgado's head and down the right field line.

But none of those things happened. Pedro pitched good enough, Nady and Delgado did what they've been doing all April, and Duaner Sanchez worked his way a little deeper into the hearts of Mets fans. Yes, it's so damned early, but you can't help but feel a difference. Most of the Mets that were traumatized by the Braves for so many years have moved on. Meanwhile the Braves, though they'll be much stronger when Larry and Renteria return, look like the team that's somewhat poorly constructed and out of synch.

We know things can change in a hurry, and nothing that happened last night will matter unless the Mets take at least one of the next two games and win the series. I just can't help but state the obvious, though -- there is a different feel to these two teams that goes beyond one's fast start and one's slow one. I'm not afraid of the Braves this year as I have been in years past. They're still a good team, and will be better than they've shown so far. It's just that the Mets are better, and I have a feeling that they know this, and so do the Braves.

Daily News: Cliff's Injury
Peter Botte reports on Cliff Floyd's injury, strained muscles on the left side of his rib cage. He quotes the Mets' left fielder:

It's not as bad as I thought it was going to be ... But I guess when it rains it pours sometimes. I think I'm going to be OK, so hopefully things will turn around for me soon, and all this will be forgotten.

... I'm not even thinking about (the disabled list) and all that. I'm gonna come in here with the intention of trying to play. If it doesn't allow me to swing or feel comfortable, then I won't go out there, but I will come in here with good intentions.

I'm really not looking forward to missing any games, especially with Carlos out. The last thing you want to do is put the team at a disadvantage if you can play. ... I don't want to do anything to jeopardize the good thing we've got going on.

You have a feeling that, at the very least, you're not going to see Cliff in the game tonight.

New York Times: Pedro's 200th
Ben Shpigel recaps Pedro's historic win.

Newark Star-Ledger: You're yesterday's news
Dan Graziano pens a great column opining that the Mets should stop deferring to the Braves' history, come right out and accept being the team to beat in the National League east.

Bergen Record: Roger McDowell
J.P. Pelzman profiles former Met pitcher Roger McDowell, the beleaguered pitching coach of the Braves.

Faith and Fear in Flushing: Success is Killing Me
Greg has a funny take on the early season victory train.

More Mets Stories:
SportsSpyder Mets
Pro Sports Daily Mets

Comments (7)

actually the 2001-2 mets traded appier for Vaughn. Traded Rusch for Burnitz and Alomar for Escobar and Traber. None of the prospects have done anything nor have the parts we traded away.

On the braves I counter with the note that the Harrazin debacle of 1992 left the Mets decimated for 8yrs. Kids Keith miller, Jeffries, Cone, Tapani, and Aguilera were traded for old veterans, then Biggio, Dave Wells, Brian Jordan and others when courted declined FA offers. Robin Ventura was the FIRST major FA to sign with the mets since Vince Coleman. (So I am retiscent of the way Robin was traded away, especially after the magic of 1999).

After 14 yrs the hill is due to become a valley. Even the Celtics and Laker have seen lean years. The real question is whats next for the Yanks. No one is crying foul that Dotel, Carlos pena, and Jesus colome sign Minor league deals with the Yanks (obviously with performance options). Untill they outright fail they will continue to throw xtra salary at the mediocre. Chacon looks like a one season wonder and speculation has them trading Pavano (for who?). Likely no one trades with them unless to dump a huge contract (Soriano).

Everyone in baseball can see these are not the Mercenary elite but the core are homegrown talent with solid veteran augmentation, with Milledge, maine, Owens humber, Pelfrey expected within the month or next 2 years. this is huge as the FA market could dry up.

On that note Oakland have no use for Joe Kennedy it seems.

I know, I know, I meant to say Shawn Estes and screwed up because I got all caught up in my own literary orgasm...

I realize that Phillips' 2001-02 off-season didn't hurt the Mets as badly as Harazin did. My point was all winter the Braves writers were comparing this year's signings to that year's, which gave the team a lot of hype over the winter but didn't translate on the field. I never thought much of Phillips' moves that year, anyway. To compare the stiffs the Mets brought in then to Delgado, Wagner and even Lo Duca is typical Braves arrogance.

yeah Delgado and Wagner are obviously legit signings.

the move I still can't stomach is Zambrano for Kazmir. kazmir in our 4 slot right now would be perfect in terms of the whole youth/veteran balance.

Could be worse -- I remember when there were a ton of David Wright trade rumors before he came up.

Not to mention Reyes and Heilman.

YES WE LOST!!! We wont win every game, but two notes from today, Woodward is making it really difficult to keep him on the bench.

Feliciano and Jorge, 2 SO each. VZ'outing puzzles me as of his 7H 6 were to AJ and La Roche a were 6rbi. I'll watch tommorow.

Right now Woodward is the only worthwhile player on the bench.

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