Friday, September 4, 2020

A Rose Amongst Thorns

I wanted to write something about Tom Seaver today, but I never really had the time to do it any justice. My back surgery is scheduled for tomorrow morning, and I spent most of the day scrambling to accomplish some things both at work and in my personal life.

This afternoon when I was finished with everything else, I took my dogs up to Litchfield for our last hike until I heal up some. I had a pretty bad week with the back, and we had only done some relatively short walks as a consequence. Today, however, for the first time in more than a week, I felt halfway decent. We were able to do a relatively long walk, almost 5 miles. I spent a lot of our walk thinking about Seaver.

Seaver was the first real-life hero that I ever had. I was 10 when he first entered my life in 1969 Seaver was great, but unlike the comic book and tv heroes he replaced, he was not infallible. The Mets' offense was generally pretty terrible during his decade-plus in New York, and his margin of error was always tiny. If he had a bad day there was very little chance that the offense would bail him out. Fortunately, there were very few of those.

I can't even count how many times I watched Seaver take a couple of measly runs from the offense and make it stand up. So many games where one mistake was the difference between winning and losing. So many of those games winding up as one of Seaver's 311 lifetime wins.

It's frustrating to look back on that era, because starting pitching was everything - so much more than it is now. The Mets had Tom Seaver fronting a rotation that included Jerry Koosman and eventually Jon Matlack, yet they only made the playoffs twice in Seaver's decade-plus with the Mets, and the second time in 1973 was really just a lucky fluke. The Mets' barely competent brain trust could never put a team around him. The 1969 Mets won 100 games; no other team in the Seaver era won more than 86. Seaver was great, but the Mets struggled to be barely adequate.

I feel like I'm watching the same thing happening again with Jacob deGrom. I'm not putting deGrom quite on a par with Seaver, but he's in that next level down. He's been in the playoffs once. Maybe things will change when Steve Cohen takes over. That's the hope, anyway.

I need to get some sleep now. I probably won't post again until Saturday. Please stay safe, be well and take care. I'll be back again once the anesthesia wears off.

 Follow me on Twitter @MikeSteffanos.

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