With the back-to-back depressing non-postseason Mets seasons, I often find myself watching videos of the 2000 Mets or the 1986 Mets. As I try to find the similarities and differences between the different blue and orange generations I come across some bold differences. Obviously there is a difference in players.
In 1986 the foundation of the team was not really held within one player as there were many leaders from Mex to Nails to Mook to Straw to Doc to Hojo and on and on. There statistics do not appear to be much better than that of the recent Met teams.
In 2000 the foundation of the Mets was timely hitting and solid defense, especially in the infield. The leader of the team appeared to be Mike Piazza but players like Edgardo Alfonzo, Derek Bell and even backups like Todd Pratt all held there place on the team. There were no Randy Johnson's on that staff. Just five solid starters who all reached double digit wins. Again, no major difference in offensive or pitching statistics that make them any different from the recent years of NY Met baseball.
Now, the 2007 and 2008 Mets what were the problems that kept us not only from the playoffs but from being an elite team in the MLB. In 2007 the Mets got caught up in a wild situation where they went from a powerful team with swagger all season long to a team that third basemen David Wright even admitted went out on the field without much confidence and hoped things would fall there way on that given night.
When 2008 came around, they had nearly the same talented young team but they seemed haunted from the start. After a slow start, it seemed Willie Randolph was the problem. After close, down-to-the-wire games, players were interviewed not about a specific error or facet of a specific game, but about the status of there coach. Until the change was made, this seemingly haunted the Mets and led to a sub-par record.
Jerry Manuel brought a spark which lead to a very successful July and August for the Metropolitans. Once September rolled around and the lead was slipping and eventually slipped every press conference was "Is 2007 happening over again? Choking again?"
As I watched that last fly out at Shea Stadium, I realized the difference between the Mets now and the great Met teams of the past.
Fun baseball and Swagger.
Not being personally close to any Mets of the '86 or '00 teams I actually saw evidence of there team swagger as well as the teams just having fun.
In 1986 the team was told by Manager Davey Johnson that not only will the Mets win but they will dominate and the team was immediately cocky and felt that the team would win it all. The team made a rap record about how good they would be! Other teams despised the Mets and they showed how tight of a group they were by the fights they had, guys sticking up for other guys, etc. That is a formula of winning baseball.
In 2000 maybe the team did not make a rap record with Benny Agbayani and Derek Bell, but any fan could tell this team was having a blast. From Robin Ventura hysterically impersonating Piazza in a rain delay, to Bobby Valentine dancing in the dugout (not to mention once disguising himself after prior ejection) this team was having a blast and seemed to have a bond.
The 2009 Mets will have the talent. The lineup is brilliant, the stars are there, the bullpen is fixed. With the hopeful addition of one more good pitcher such as Lowe or Perez (Or Both) the talent is not the question. The Mets need to become a group that plays winning baseball, has fun playing the game and believes in each other.
I personally believe the Mets have more talent than the Phillies, but the team from Philadelphia just simply plays winning baseball and appears to have more of a hunger to win.
I hope the Mets show the Phils they can do that too. Have fun playing baseball, joke around, take care of business and send a message from the get-go. In the first Mets Phillies game, which I believe is in Philadelphia in 2009 plunk Jimmy Rollins with an inside fastball. If they wanna fight? Fight. Send a message!
Maybe I am rambling, but the Mets have the talent. Now they just have to learn how to win!