The more I watch these Mets, I think of what legendary team announcer Lindsey Nelson used to say. As the team started winning in 1969, he called them “A new breed of Mets.” Well, this 2011 team has still lost more games than it has won (31-32), but things are starting to remind me of 1973 – that NY Mets team went all the way to the World Series and lost to the Oakland A’s in seven games.
Last night the Mets got another fantastic start from Dillon Gee (7-0), who pitches like a young Gary Gentry. Jose Reyes keeps hitting like he thinks he is Rod Carew, and the “little leaguers” – Justin Turner, Reuben Tejada, Jason Pridie, and Jon Niese – are starting to forget AAA Buffalo and look like they belong. They also seem to keep finding a way to win.
Credit has to be given to manager Terry Collins who, despite all signs to the contrary, never has given up on this team. They won 2 of 3 in Milwaukee, won again last night in Pittsburgh, and have a chance to come home from this trip at or above .500. After that dismal 4-13 start, the team is 27-19 and that’s not bad baseball at all (despite all the injuries and Jason Bay acting like he forgot how to hit and play this game).
So as a Mets fan I am not walking around shouting how great the team is – at least not yet – but there is a strange feeling that the team (just six and a half games behind Philadelphia) is still in it. The great Yogi Berra, manager of the 1973 Amazin’s, is a kindred spirit to Terry Collins. He never gave up that year either, and with a few remaining stars from 1969 (Cleon Jones, Ed Kranepool, Tom Seaver, etc.) and new guys like Jon Milner, Rusty Staub, and Jon Matlack, Yogi got his Mets into the playoffs and beat the Cincinnati Reds – the legendary Big Red Machine. They took the A’s to seven games in the Series too – not bad for a team that finished 82-79.
Keep the faith, Mets fans. Everyone else who has counted us out should wait to make the call. The late great Tug McGraw coined the phrase “You gotta believe!” for the 1973 team, and somewhere I think he is pulling for his old team to keep on going and make a run. No matter what, the Mets are fun to watch again and are starting to live up to that old Amazin’ name once again. A new breed of Mets indeed!
Photo Credits: Terry Collins – NY Daily News
Tug McGraw – flickr.com