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I Hate Waiting

Mike SteffanosSaturday, January 20, 2007
By Mike Steffanos

For those of you who are fans of South Park, you'll remember an episode from the recently completed tenth season where Eric Cartman elects to have himself frozen because he can't take the three week wait for the Nintendo Wii to hit the stores. I can identify with him, because I don't like waiting, either. Rather than turning myself into a popsicle, I've chosen to write all these pitching previews as a way of killing time until spring training gets underway. They're a lot of work, but I enjoy doing them.

I'm taking the weekend off from writing them, so look for Clint Nageotte's preview to show up late Sunday night. By the time I make it through Billy Wagner's preview we ought to be really close to the start of spring training. Sometimes spring is a complete bore, with few, if any, jobs up for grabs. While it's debatable how many jobs are really open, there is plenty of interest in monitoring the progress of the young pitchers on whom the Mets are staking so much this year.

I know some are apprehensive about how much the Phillies and Braves have improved themselves in the off-season, but I actually welcome it. Sure, we didn't have to sweat anything by the All Star Break, but I thought the collapse of the other contenders in the NL east made for a pretty boring last 2 months. Pennant races are an important part of the season, and victory laps that last that long kill the normal momentum. Maybe there are no guarantees this year, but it will be more fun. I think you can make an argument for any team but the Nationals taking the east this year.

Speaking of no guarantees, that's a pretty good way to describe the Mets pitching staff, particularly the starters. I had a talk with an old friend of mine that likes the Mets not all that long ago, and he voiced the concern that there wasn't a single "sure thing" in the rotation for 2007, with 41-year-old Tom Glavine about as close as you get to one. It got us to reminiscing about the 1987 Mets, which had about as close to a "sure thing" 1-5 rotation as any I've rooted for -- with all five pitchers young (Gooden 22, Darling 27, Ojeda 29, Sid Fernandez 24 and Rick Aguilera 25), experienced and pretty damn good.

Of course, it was starting pitching that killed the Mets as much as anything in 1987. Gooden began the year in his first drug rehab. Darling had a real off year with a 1.5 run jump in his ERA from the previous season, and then he got hurt late in the year against the Cardinals. Injuries limited Bob Ojeda to seven starts, and both Sid Fernandez and Aguilera missed time with injuries. Even the arrival of rookie David Cone couldn't save the team from finishing a disappointing 92-70, and 3 games out of playoff spot in those pre-wild card days. There are no sure things in baseball -- particularly with pitching -- so I don't really sweat that too much. The only thing that bothers me is when the team lacks talent, as it did in 2003 and 2004 when there were too many guys on the roster who lacked both talent and a future.

Look For Barry's Column Tomorrow
We'll be running our weekly column on Mets history from Barry Duchan tomorrow. This one will be about Jackie Robinson's one year as an employee of the Mets. As previously mentioned, late Sunday night I will post Clint Nageotte's profile.

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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Comments (10)

Spring Training can't come soon enough. And I think I speak for many of us that want to thank you Mike, for making the dog days of the winter so much more bearable with this great series of posts.

I still believe that the Mets would have won the division and the 1987 World Series if that line drive by Willie Mcgee didn't blister open Ron Darling's finger on that fateful Friday night in September. If Darling stays in the game, then Pendleton doesn't hit that homerun off McDowell, and we close to 1/2 game of first place. And maybe then Doc would have pitched like Doc the next day, instead of pitching like all the juice was drained out of NY the night before. Ah well, some nights stick with you longer than others.

I think it's time for a little payback 20 years later.

Was that the year Bob Ojeda almost cut his finger off trimming hedges?... This waiting is harder because its to quiet. Thank you for the pitching previews, without them I am like the kid who got a sled for Christmas and there isn't any snow. There is no baseball juice anywhere. I also hate waiting.It isn't any fun playing G/M this year, it seems dead. Like dead air time on the radio, nothing. Oh for the first crack of the bat, what a sweet sound that will be.

Top 10 songs to play while waiting for spring training to arrive:

10) Waiting on the World to Change - John Mayer
9) I Can't Wait - Stevie Nicks
8) Right Here Waiting - Richard Marx
7) How Long - Ace
6) She's Waiting - Eric Clapton
5) Waiting For the Sun - The Doors
4) The Longest Time - Billy Joel
3) Waiting on a Friend - The Rolling Stones
2) The Waiting (is the Hardest Part) - Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers
1) Tired Of Waiting For You - The Kinks

Songs on my "Going to Shea" cassette (soon to be substituted by my "Going to Lakeland to Watch the Tigers and Mets on March 11th" CD):

5) Talking Baseball - Terry Cashman (the Mets version, of course)
4) Center Field - John Fogerty
3) Paradise By the Dashboard Lights - Meat Loaf (I know, it's Rizzuto, but it's a ROCKING "baseball" song)
2) Swing Batta Swing - K7
1) Meet the Mets - original theme

I am sorry to say but that guy's Going to Shea Baseball Mix is quite fruity.

Thanks, MetsFanT. I was looking for a new, hot, not-so-fruity mix, and I'm hoping you can give me some suggestions. The #1 song stays, though.

Salman - You're welcome. I agree with you on Darling in that game against the Cardinals. That year everything seemed to go wrong, though.
Anonymous - That happened in Sept. of 1988.
NostraDennis - (Hint) no Manilow or Cher...

Agreed 100% about welcoming better competition into the Eastern Division. Of course I want the Mets to prevail.

Was listening to WFAN while driving around the other day; I guess there was nothing on the Explosions Network. Anyway, some caller referred to "the best regular season college basketball game," and Russo was all over him, declaring that there was no such thing, that the only really good college basketball games were playoff games, or at least games that would decide who gets into the playoffs, and that the latter category wasn't much use anyway, as "everybody" gets into the Tournament, and anyway we are awash in conference tournaments.

But, you know, if the simple, unadorned game of basketball isn't enough to hold your interest, then none of those championship playoffs are going to mean anything anyway. I love the idea of my favorite team eventually winning the title; but I follow baseball because it's exciting to watch athletes perform, compete against other good players, and either win or lose A GAME. The game is the fundimental unit in baseball; a team either wins or loses games.

If playing the game itself means nothing, then we would be better off cheering along with the stock market. There's certainly more at stake there.

Those two persons are supposed to be celebrating the fans' interest in sports, and they themsleves are so jaded they can claim to not even find enjoyment in the games -- more than claim, announce that there is no pleasure in the games themselves, only in the prospect of a trophy at the end of the run. Amazing, just amazing.

I guess I am feeling chatty today.

Another poster mentioned Bob Ojeda's accident with the pruning shears. Which is my only excuse for bringing this up, besides the fact that it's winter.

Someone somewhere listed the ten greatest seasons by Mets pitchers all-time recently. Whoever wrote it left off my favorite: Bob Ojeda, 1988.

It's easy to omit, too, since that year Bobby O went 10-13 for a team that won 100 games. But take a look at the numbers Ojeda compiled; it has to be one of the very greatest cases of hard luck pitching ever recorded.

In 190.3 innings Ojeda gave up 158 hits, 33 walks; his Hits plus Walks per Nine was the thrid best total in the league. In those 190.3 Ojeda allowed SIX home runs. That almost sounds like dead ball era stuff, wouldn't you say?

Ojeda's ERA that year was 2.88. He led the National League in pitching 5 shutouts. In games when he didn't pitch a shutout, his ERA was 3.79.

The Mets led the league in runs scored by a healthy margin that year, and still Bobby O managed a losing record.

Now, occasionally one does hear of a historic bad luck pitching season that occurred around that time, but it's Nolan Ryan's 1987 season they're talking about, not Ojeda. And Ryan's case is certainly strong, but not any stronger than Ojeda's. The '87 Astros simply had a lousy offense; but the '88 Mets scored for everybody except Ojeda.

dd - I agree with you on Ojeda's 1988 season. He was never the same after that year. Cutting off the fingertips will do that to a pitcher I guess.

Sorry for the anonymous, that was me. Hit the wrong key. I'll be better after a few S/T hits.

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