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Best Baseball of 2007

Dave MillsSaturday, August 4, 2007
By Dave Mills

Yes, this week, the Mets are playing their best baseball of the season, including the 13-inning loss to the Brew Crew on Tuesday night. At 15 games over .500, they also sport the best record in the NL and third best record in MLB behind the BoSox and Halos, who they are about to overtake.

The Mets are 14-8 since the All-Star break. David Wright is on fire. Milledge is showing game. Gotay continues to stroke. Castillo has the glove and range and WILL hit. Castro for president. Anderson in/Franco out looks like a masterstroke. Wagner is dominant. El Duque, Glavine, Maine and Perez have hurled to the hilt.

Yet, we still hear the moans and groans of the uninformed crowd, many of whom seem to call WFAN religiously. No doubt, the complainers call with greater frequency than those with praise, a situation which is not likely to change.

Should Newhan have started?
Willie played a left-handed hitting lineup on Friday because Carlos Zambrano dominates and devastates right-handed hitters. Should David Newhan be starting? Why not? The guy did a great job in the spring and then rotted on the bench for months. Perhaps Willie realizes he erred by not giving Newhan and Franco enough playing time early in the year, when he had the opportunity die to Alou and Green's injuries and the three-month slump of Carlos Delgado. Upon being sent to New Orleans, Newhan tore it up, batting .358 while playing regularly. If a real fan wants him to be productive, the guy must get a start here and there, play defensive and be "in" the game. And how about that catch?

Why is Gotay batting 8th?
Plain and simple, this is Randolph's thing. He is consistent. Wright batted well down in the batting order through the first 100 games of 2005. He has used the same strategy for Carlos Gomez, Milledge, Gotay and others. He believes it reduces the pressure on these kids and lets them relax in the batters box. Batting second comes with its idiosyncrasies, especially with Jose Reyes on base, which is the case almost 40% of the time. Hey, Willie played the game for a long time. He was a very good player in ALL aspects of the game and he knows more about any of these players than any of us. Can anyone say that David Wright is not a better ballplayer because Willie protected him in the order for a while? No one knows for sure, but the results have been remarkable. His shifting Gotay between 7, 8 and 2 has also worked well as his .350 average indicates. He did similar things with Gomez and the results were pretty encouraging.

Should Milledge be playing everyday?
Probably most days, but against a Zambrano, it makes no sense. A good leader sets his charges up to succeed, not to be unsuccessful. In golf, the parents and ancillary advisors to Michelle Wie have set her up for failure rather than success. Instead of letting her win amateur events (she had only won one) and spending at least a couple of years on a first-rate college golf team, they have put her in an untenable position, where the spotlight (due to the millions she was paid for not winning a thing), expectations and pressure of the highest competition may extinguish her career before she has the taste of victory and accomplishment. And in a solitary sport like golf, there are no teammates or managers/coaches, like Wille, to reduce the pressure or run interference.

Randolph may also be using a bit of psychology. By not playing Lastings every day, he keeps the powerful ego and slightly elevated self-importance in check. This may serve Milledge and the Mets well for many years to come. In other words, we can win with you and we can win without you. Not a bad philosophy.

Many Met fans have to take a look in the mirror and decide if having the best record isn't good enough?

I think this team is slightly underperforming, but the injuries have been profound and have taken a toll on team consistency more than anything else. The Mets just can't seem to put together winning streaks of 4-9 games. It will happen several times during the last two months.

The healing periods of Martinez, Chavez, Gomez and Beltran all coincide before the end of August. This will allow Chavez and Gomez to play one or two weeks of rehab and be ready for September and the postseason. In the meantime, the fill-ins and starters will all have ample playing time and the availability of rest in September. This is a powerfully good scenario.

Additionally, the schedule favors the Mets. Twenty-eight of their last 51 games are at home. After these two remaining games with the Cubbies, they play the Fish 10 games (six at home), the Nats 9 games (six away) and the Bucs and Reds three times each away. They also play the Padres, Dodgers and Astros three games each, all at Shea later this month.

The schedule also has the Mets playing the Phillies seven games (three at Shea) and the Braves nine games (six at Shea). I would wager that by the time the Braves and then Phils come to Shea beginning September 10, both teams will have to sweep to even put themselves in the race.

And in the unlikely event that the Mets lose six straight to those clubs, their last 14 games find them playing the Fish and Nats 13 times, including the last week of the season at home, with a makeup game against the Cards sandwiched in the middle. On the downside, the Mets play their last 17 games without a day off. But the September call-ups, and injured troops returning, mitigate that situation very nicely.

Let's cut out the moaning, eliminate the booing and start enjoying the moments yet to come.

About Dave: Dave Mills, born in Kew Gardens, Queens, the day after Willie Mays' circus catch in the 1954 World Series, is a devout Met fan since 1962. The first game he attended was Mets v. Reds at the Polo Grounds on September 14, 1962. With the game tied 9-9 in the 9th, Choo Choo ("Bub") Coleman hit a game-winning walkoff HR down the rightfield line on to the tin roof. The sound is indelibly etched in his memory! Dave lives on Oahu, where he markets and writes about golf. His company, HawaiiGolfDeals.com is the leading deliverer of golfers to the Aloha State. His take on Golf in Australia is in the Oct/Nov issue of Fairways & Greens Magazine.

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Comments (2)

I like the fact that the Mets have adopted the philosopy of one game at a time, one series at a time. They did not look past the Brewers to the Cubs and won 2 of 3, did not look past the Cubs to the Braves and took 2 of 3. Now with the begining of what most deem a crucial series in August starting Tuesday, the Mets at worst will still be a game and a half up if swept. They way the offense and pitching have been performing since the break, that scenario is unlikely. How a sweep for the Mets would be fantastic, the Mets need to send a mesaage to the Braves, and the rest of the East, that it's money time and they are in it to win it! 2 of 3 from the Braves would be a nice start, and there's no reason to think otherwise. Perez opens it up, Duque(who's been pitching better than the record indicates) in game 2. John Maine bumped up for the finally ( he wanted this start and now he's got it). Lets go Mets open that lead up!

Though I can see where you are coming from, I see the beginning of the end for the Mets. I say this b/c the braves got alot better with 2 former Mets, Dotel and Ring. They even got better with Texiera and Mahay. Now here comes the waiver period. The Braves and Phils will block anything that can help this team. As I see it, by the 15th of sept. the Mets may be in third place in the east. The Phils are flat out hitting the ball and scoring a ton. The Braves filled all their needs and Texiera can be the ticket to the top of the east. I hate to say all this b/c I am a big fan of the Metropolitans. I don't miss a game for anything and I know the game real well. I was looking through some of Omars fancy deals only to find that not much made sense. It gets to me when Bannister started real well with the Mets only to be traded away. He is having a fine season in Kc of all places. Omar needed to put a big bat in the outfield and didn't. Petit is pitching real well in Arizona and again why is he there ? Henry Owens and Matt Lindstrom for Vargas and Bostick ? B/c the 2 the Mets got are quite younger ? I just don't get why Omar does what he does most of the time. When Omar needed to step up he did nothing. This team will be in third by the time the season is over and it just pisses me off. You can not win anything with a right fielder that has 31 rbi's and 8 hr's on th season. Alou was a great player but he is a double play when a man is on first. He hurts the team in the field and has been out all year. Omar needed to get it done and did absolutely nothing. I love this team but, after a year when the Mets almost got there, as a fan I feel cheated !!!!

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