3.10.06

With The Heart Or With The Head?

"I have been told to reason by the heart,
But heart, like head, leads helplessly;
I have been told to reason by the pulse,
And, when it quickens, alter the actions' pace
Till field and roof lie level and the same
So fast I move defying time, the quiet gentleman
Whose beard wags in Egyptian wind.

I have heard may years of telling,
And many years should see some change.

The ball I threw while playing in the park
Has not yet reached the ground."


-Dylan Thomas from Should Lanterns Shine.

I'm choosing to think about the 2002 Anaheim Angels, a team with questionable starting pitching, a deep bullpen and good defence that won the World Series. I'm choosing to think about them because that has been the Mets' bread and butter all season long and frankly, it is the Mets' fighting chance to continue.

The Pedro Factor: His mystique is what lent credibility but not substance to the Mets rotation this season and thus his disappearance from the post season has evaporated the mystique the Mets rotation might have had going into the post season. Nevertheless the Mets have done it without Pedro most of the season and his absence means little more than Grady Little will get no revenge for the bonehead reliance on Pedro for the Sox in 2003 ALCS against the Yankees that cost him his job. And for those crawing about the loss of Pedro consider that the Mets were only 11-12 in his starts this season.

Hong-Chih Kuo Factor: The baseball gods may just decide that the Dodgers move to deprive us of an historical Glavine v Maddux matchup means fate should not be on their side. On the other hand, Kuo baffled the Mets in his only start against them and overall started five games in September, striking out 42 batters in 32 1/3 innings.

Carlos Beltran Factor: Who can forget The Beltran's postseason performance for the Astros in 2004 that landed him his billion dollar contract and his nest at Shea? He is no longer up-and-coming but is and was the Mets' strongest candidate for MVP but by his own accord he is only about 80% fit. A sidebar to this factor is his slugging partner, Carlos Delgado who has never in his long career made it to the postseason. Will the two of them, Beltran trying too hard to repeat 2004 and Delgado, trying too hard to deliver in his inaugural playoffs leaving both of them swinging for the fences and not reaching them?

Bullpen Factor: Simply put, the depth of the bullpen has offset the average starting pitching all season and means the Mets have distinct advantage from the 6th inning on over the Dodgers who are crap in extra inning games (3-8) and a mediocre 20-20 in one-run games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, they had the NL's best winning percentage when leading after six innings (.865) and seven innings (.895). Unless the starting pitching stinks beyond it's significant years (and for all the hubbub about Glavine and El Duque's postseason experience, Glavine is 4-9 with a 4.40 ERA in his last 15 postseason starts whilst El Duque, once shining in his first 10 starts for the Yankees, he has been 1-3 with a 3.63 ERA in his 39 2/3 postseason innings since,) the Mets bullpen will keep them close enough to rally. Neither should matter much because the Mets' bullpen, both middle and set-up and closer are far more reliable than the Dodgers' pen and early leads held by the Dodgers might just dissipate faster than a line of street whores in a sudden thunderstorm.

The Shortstop Factor: Both Jose Reyes and Rafael Furcal play shortstop and both are the sparks at the top of their respective batting orders. But there is where the resemblances end. Furcal, a .232 career postseason hitter had a remarkable string with the Braves. Five postseason appearances and nary a one led to the World Series. Reyes has never seen the postseason but is possibly the brightest prospects the Mets have ever developed. This could well be the beginning of a long and prosperous coming out party for Reyes. Furcal, well, he's seen the losing end of the result far too often.

Subway Series Factor: The Mets and Yankees tied for the best record in baseball this season. Recent trends indicate this is usually meaningless and given what is likely to be a nationwide karmic pull against seeing a Subway Series, the chances of this happening might be slim but nothing can reduce the potential story of Teacher versus Student, Joe Torre managing against Willie Randolph.

PREDICTION

Mets In Five.
Series MVP: Endy Chavez

1 comment:

sanchez said...

The Mets will lose two consecutive shutouts at Shea to go back to LA and get swept...

That's the head, not the heart, by the way...