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Waiting for Glavine

Chuck RothmanSaturday, December 2, 2006
By Chuck Rothman


Editor's Note: This is Chuck Rothman's first submission to this blog. He's left many terrific comments here under the screen name "RealityChuck". - M.S.

Author's note: "This piece was written before Glavine re-signed. He obviously did so in order to make my comments out-of-date, and as such I take full credit for him not going to Atlanta."

As we sit waiting for Tom Glavine to finish his Hamlet act (To be or not to be a Met? That is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous tabloids or to take my arm into a sea of empty seats, ... but I digress), I was thinking about how the Mets have changed.

Back in the old days, the team was known (in a positive sense) for their starting pitching. They won in '69 with a team where Nolan Ryan couldn't find a spot to start in the World Series. The made it to the seventh game in 1979 with Don Hahn (!) and a decrepit Willie Mays in centerfield but no place to for the NL starter with the highest W-L percentage that year. And though the teams in '86 and '88 had great hitting, they had even better starting pitching.

This made sense. Shea Stadium was a pitcher's park. You should build your team around great pitching.

But a funny thing happened in the 90s. The Mets rebuilt around Piazza, Olerud, Alfonzo, Ziele, and other hitters, with the pitching only average. It's been a long time since the team has had a great pitcher, and the few flashes of greatness came from hired guns from other organizations. Of course, starting pitching has changed, and I don't think anyone can put together a dominant pitching staff these days. Hitters are better, juiced or not, and you need to consider yourself lucky if you have more than one power pitcher on your staff.

Maybe the day of the power pitcher is over. Those that can throw heat for an entire game are few and far between, and even fewer because that sort of power wrecks havoc on your arm.

But, in any case, it looks like part of Omar's plan is to get as many promising young starters that he can, throw them into the pool, and see if they swim (with the help of the lifeguard who always wears a jacket, of course).

It's nice to have management that knows what it's doing. And even nicer if they can return to what made the franchise great.

Random Thoughts:

  • It's too late to comment on Wallace Matthew's column on Moises Alou over Thanksgiving except to add one thing: his analysis is symptomatic of one of the two banes of thoughtful baseball analysis -- Fantasy Baseball. People think that the way to build a team is the way you build a team in fantasy baseball. It doesn't work that way in the real world (except in the Bronx, but that's not the real world).
  • Do you think the Braves have been dragging their feet in talking to Glavine as a ploy to mess up Omar? Maybe they don't want Glavine, but want the issue to remain up in the air until after the winter meetings.
  • I think that Oliver Perez really gets far too little respect. He's treated like he's an untried rookie, but he is a veteran with one spectacular year under his belt. Pittsburg messed up his mechanics, but if he gets it back -- and there's already signs that he's getting there -- this can go down as one of the team's best trades.
  • Does anyone who makes preseason predictions ever go back and grade their own performance?
  • I'm sorry to lose Manny Acta. He did a great job at third base; if he had been with the Dodgers, they might have won that first playoff game. He was both aggressive and smart, and it was rare that he sent someone who should have held up.
  • Rick Peterson gets all the credit, and it's certainly deserved. But doesn't Rick Down deserve some credit for the team's hitting last year?
About Chuck Rothman: I haven't always been a Mets fan, since I started following baseball one year too early. But I've been rooting for them since 1965, and is so much a fan that I actually remember Sean Fitzmaurice's big league debut, that Chuck Estrada was the winning pitcher for Tom Seaver's first big-league start, and that Newsday predicted the Mets would win the pennant in 1969. For forty years, he's been living and dying with the team. Mostly the latter, alas, but it hasn't shaken my confidence -- if you root for a team, you stick with it.

In real life, I work in the IT department at Siena College, near Albany, NY. In addition to wanting to play for the Mets, my childhood dream was to be a science fiction writer when I grew up. When I realized I wasn't going to grow up, I became one, anyway, with a novel (two if you count the e-book sequel) and about 30 short stories published in SF magazines (plug: my latest can be found in the February 2007 issue of Realms of Fantasy, on newsstands the first week of December). I've also been treasurer of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, business manager for the Science Fiction Poetry Association, and convention chair for the Albacon SF con.

I grew up in Southold, NY, at the far end of Long Island, but settled in Schenectady after going to college there. My wife Susan writes poetry; my daughter Lisa attends American University, and our cat Lightning lies around and naps when he isn't begging for food. My website is www.sff.net/people/rothman. Not much Mets stuff there, but there is my movie review site Great but Forgotten.

Comments (2)

RealityChuck,

Welcome in, and thanks for helping get Glavine signed. I feel you, though - I hate it when something you write ends up out of date the minute you finish it.

Every point you make, though, is still valid, especially the one about Omar's "sink or swim" plan. Fortunately, the pitchers who prove not to be the best swimmers just yet this spring don't have to go under permanently. They just get to dogpaddle around in NOLA for a few months, until the inevitable injury or trade creates an opportunity for them.

It's cool that you're an established SF writer. I hope you sprinkle in a few subliminal Mets references into your SF writing every one in a while. The guys who wrote the "Left Behind" series do that. One of them, I don't know which, must be a Mets fan. Among the minor characters in the series are Jim Hickman, Thomas Agee, George Seaver, and Don Clendenon (one N in the book, I think).

Looking forward to reading more from you here, and I'll be picking up that issue of Realms of Fantasy soon.

NostraDennis - It wasn't out of date when he finished it. Chuck was nice enough to allow me to sit on it for a day so I could hold to my limit of 3 major posts a day, and sure enough, Glavine signed.

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