Tellin' It Like It is
The More Things Are Different, The More They Stay The Same
The best baseball team in New York: that phrase is usually reserved for players in pinstripes. This year, however, New York baseball has seen a pendulum swing from the Bronx to Flushing, as the Mets have become the darlings of the Metropolitan area.
But, while the first half of the 2006 baseball season has brought New York its share of surprises, some things remain a constant: the Yankees and the Red Sox battling for first place, Derek Jeter being the guy you rely on in a game-winning situation, and the Atlanta Braves being down, but never out.
As we delve deep into the summer months, with playoff dreams on the horizon, let's take a closer look at both ball clubs, their strengths, their challenges and my projections for their championship success. We begin by taking the 4 train up to 161st Street and visiting the House That Ruth Built.
The New York Yankees
As we enter the last week of July, the Yankees are right where I expected them to be, in a neck-in-neck battle for first place with the hated Boston Red Sox. For anyone that felt that the Yankees were in trouble by judging their first half performance, doesn't know the history of this franchise. They are traditionally slow starters, only to come on strong at the end. This separates them from just about every other team in Major League Baseball.
How do I see the Yankees faring? Let's break it down:
Strong, consistent offense: Simply put, the Yankees have one of the most solid lineups in baseball, that point cannot be disputed. In a tight situation, with the game on the line, I'd take any one of them to help me deliver a big play, from Giambi to Jeter to Posada. The acquisition of Johnny Damon has earned great dividends and his prospects continue to look bright in the second half.
Got Melke?: Good ole George has finally realized that purchasing All-Stars does not a championship team make. George has dug into his farm system and come across with this gem of a ball player, Melke Cabrera, who is as sharp on offense as he is on defense. I expect to continue to see big things from this rookie.
Mariano Rivera: What can I say? He's the best closer in the game, period! Looking for a one-run save? He's your guy. When "Enter Sandman" blares in the top of the 9th at Yankee Stadium, nine time out of ten, it's lights out.
Pitching Wins Games: The Yankees have always been known for the shutdown style of pitching. But, in 2006, this is the one area where they are vulnerable. There were big expectations on Randy Johnson upon his arrival to New York. But "The Big Unit" is showing his age and is not the force he once was. He does seem to be turning it around early in the second half, but I continue to expect a mediocre performance at best.
The $25 million bust: A-Rod signs with the Yankees and New York goes ballistic. But, what has he done for us lately? He tanked in the 2005 playoffs and with continued ground-outs, pop-ups and single homeruns in non-crucial situations, A-Rod has turned into A-Fraud. If he doesn't step it up, the powers-that-be need to evaluate his staying power.
Ouch!: Bear in mind, I hate fans making excuses, but I need to state the fact that key Yankee players have been rendered unable to play, which has hurt the ball club. Notable absences include Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui.
At the pace we are currently set, I see the Yankees barely beating out the Red Sox to win the American League East. And then, it's anybody's guess. In my opinion, if they can rise to the occasion and make the World Series, they'll take it, as I don't see the National League having a team that can match them, except one, of course.
The New York Mets
Which leads us on a trip on the 7 train to dark, murky, Flushing, New York, where the New York Metropolitans call home. If anyone would have told me in April that the Mets would be where they are now, I'd have had you committed. But, here we are, 11.5 games in front, sitting on top of the world? Can they stay there? Here's what I think:
Bats and The Pelfrey: The new crop of homegrown talent, Jose Reyes and David Wright are the real deal. The both possess speed, outstanding hitting ability, and extraordinary defensive skills. They are poised to be with the Mets and produce big wins for many years to come. And new young gun, Mike Pelfrey, with 2 wins under his belt, could be a solid addition to the Mets rotation
Carlos Beltran: The bust of 2005 becomes the sweetheart of 2006. This, my friends, is why Carlos got $19 million to come here, to hit and hit and hit some more. The back-to-back grand slams these past few nights have only added to the value he brings to the team.
Pedro Martinez: The ace of the team. Don't let the sore hip fool you. After a strong first half, Pedro is resting himself for a strong showing as he looks to lead the Mets into the playoffs. Unless a bigger injury slays him, look for Pedro to continue striking out and taking names.
The Billy Goat: No more Braden Looper. No more Armando Benitez. With Billy Wagner saving games, who needs to worry? Every Met fan this side of Queens. It has been made plainly obvious that Wagner cannot pitch in New York. His uneasiness and hesitation in game after game has made many a nightmare become a reality. It will be Willie Randolph's job to get him under control, or limit his appearances for the good of the team.
Depthless pitching: Unless the Mets can clone Pedro, they need another big arm. It is true that Tom Glavine is a solid number two starter, but any Met fan will tell you that his efficiency is game to game. Steve Traschsel is a lot better than fans give him credit for, but they need some pitching insurance badly, perhaps Dontrelle Willis. And the mediocrity of the Mets bullpen speaks for itself.
Southern head game: Those who live history are doomed to repeat it. And no Met fan is resting easy, even with an 11.5 game lead. And the peaches of Georgia, the Atlanta Braves are coming on strong. With the Mets, half of their problems have always been mental. So, if the Braves can catch them and get their number, things could get very interesting.
I'll admit it, the National League is inferior to the American League. The Mets may just be big fish in a small pond. But, I truly see them as contenders for glory. They'll win the division and will more than likely be ousted in the National League Championship Series. They're not World Series caliber yet, but they are on the road to greatness.
Until next week, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Tellin' It Like It is
Great job Captain. I loved it!
Posted Jul 20, 2006 1:08PM by metsgirlie
Way cool, congrats on your column!
Posted Jul 20, 2006 1:14PM by Michi
Great article this week - I'll eagerly await your next column ;-)
Posted Jul 20, 2006 1:23PM by FeliciaDP
Awesome work done, looking forward to next weeks.
Posted Jul 20, 2006 1:47PM by JeterFan
Nice job! Congrats!
Posted Jul 20, 2006 1:50PM by BabyAvocado
Posted Jul 20, 2006 2:10PM by VirginiaDeb
I didn't even know you had a column
decent...of course i do have my neys
as always :)
Posted Jul 20, 2006 4:44PM by Redhead
Posted Jul 20, 2006 4:46PM by dandr10199
Congrats on the column! Great job!
Posted Jul 20, 2006 5:13PM by Kate
wow Captain what a great column you wrote I am very impressed i will continue to keep reading it each week! gl to you and ron picked the right guy to do it.:)~Roseann
Posted Jul 20, 2006 7:08PM by luvsbob4603
mmmmm i'll show you homegrown talent hahahhahaha :-D
great job on #1 - can't wait for more!
Posted Jul 20, 2006 8:55PM by Shorty
Very well written. I think you were objective and able to write about the positves and negatives of both teams.
Posted Jul 20, 2006 9:16PM by MrsPornStar
Very nice article. It was fair and I agree with you on just about everything you said. Good luck with the column. I look forward to reading more.
Posted Jul 20, 2006 9:56PM by Kierasmom
Very cool, el Capitan!!!
Posted Jul 20, 2006 10:35PM by NewYawkah
This is just so cool!
Posted Jul 21, 2006 12:00AM by Jenziba
"Stand Back" the Captain has arrived.
And we all said "Mike...who"??
Posted Jul 21, 2006 3:13PM by reggie
Great Article! Well balanced and well thought out- Great job.
Posted Jul 21, 2006 4:05PM by CkGm
LETS GO METS!!!!!!
Posted Jul 25, 2006 12:11PM by kaklesmay
very nice. i agree with some of the points. good luck with the column
Posted Aug 6, 2006 3:02PM by bklyngirl
I am so behind, sorry!
LOVEEEE this column, congrats to you!
Posted Aug 8, 2006 6:11AM by DebG
Good job! Great article!
Posted Aug 13, 2006 8:49PM by Shanti
Nice Job QTR! Congrats!
Posted May 16, 2007 4:40PM by BabyAvocado
just stop by to give my love hugs and kisses love mom /grandma
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