Wednesday, August 13, 2008

New Pop Hero

The Mets cruised to a rare laugher on Wednesday night, blasting the Nationals 12-0 in a game that was never much in doubt. At the crux of the Mets performance was another solid game from the Mets newest, and perhaps most surprising Pop Hero.

Daniel Murphy continued what has been a brilliant beginning to his Major League career with another 3-hit game, which included an RBI single in the middle of the Mets 8-run 3rd inning and a 2-run HR in the 5th inning, which capped the night's scoring.

After the game, Murphy made a brief appearance on WFAN with Steve Somers. The rather humble and understated Murphy has been a sparkplug ever since he arrived in the Majors a mere 12 days ago, but he's quickly won the fans over with his play. He's displayed patience and persistence at the plate, something that had been lacking as a whole from the Mets offense. Although his defense has had some holes in it, it's easy to forgive him, particularly considering the fact that Murphy, a 3rd Baseman by trade, has been learning Left Field on the fly. But perhaps most impressive is how well the 23-year old has taken his early success in stride. Nothing's gone to his head, and this was quite evident as he spoke with Somers, a little more than 30 minutes ago. Speaking from the clubhouse, Murphy had to cut his interview short, he had to leave to catch the team bus. "Rookies aren't allowed to be late," he told Somers. Unlike some more heady, flashy players, Murphy understands and clearly takes pride and enjoyment in his status with the team. Dare I say it, he knows his place. He's the kind of player who wasn't even on the radar of Mets fans at the outset this season, but here he is, and if the first two weeks of his career are any indication, he's here to stay. Put to rest the cries for another corner outfielder. Raul Ibanez, your services are not necessary.

The phenomenon that is Daniel Murphy began in his first game, where he was immediately thrown into the starting lineup after being recalled from Binghamton and made what at the time looked to be a game saving grab in the tiny left field corner in Houston, which he turned into a lightning-like double play. Three nights later, he was right in the thick of the Mets 6-5 victory over San Diego, netting his first Major League RBI late in the game, a run that turned out to be the difference in the game. The following night, it was his first triple that kicked off his first 3-hit game, generating the lone bit of excitement in an otherwise forgettable Mets effort. Two hits and an RBI the next afternoon. Another 2 hits the following night. Stepping to the plate as a Pinch-Hitter and whacking his first Major League HR off a lefty pitcher the following night. And all of a sudden, he closes his first week in the Majors with a .500 batting average, a curtain call, and instant celebrity among Mets fans. And it's continued since then, up to tonight, and perhaps beyond that.

Moreso than the hits, it's been the manner in which they've come that impresses the most. Murphy, perhaps better than some of the established veterans in the lineup, seems to have a good feel for the strike zone. He's been able to work counts and wait for his pitch. He's played unafraid to take an extra base or even lay down a bunt to try to spark a rally. It's been refreshing to watch him out there, a good break from the monotony of the Marlon Andersons of the world.

Beginners luck? Perhaps. But he's been the biggest sparkplug the Mets have had since, perhaps, Benny Agbayani came up in May of 1999 and started cracking HRs all over the place. Murphy has become a folk hero of similar status, albeit not of similar girth. He has become the leader of this youth movement that the Mets have undertaken over the past few weeks, and he's got everyone behind him.

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