Saturday, October 17, 2015

A Mid-October Night's Dream

I was walking down 19th Street near Park Avenue yesterday afternoon, just going to the bank and other assorted, work-related errands, when I saw a real giant of a man, kind of Nordic-looking, with bright blond hair walking south on Park. A second look revealed that it was, in fact, Noah Syndergaard. Unless you followed the Mets or knew what he looked like, I suppose you wouldn't recognize him out of uniform. I debated whether or not to say something to him, and I decided, what the hell. The conversation went something like this:

ME: Hey! Great job last night! You're awesome!

NOAH SYNDERGAARD: (Nods) Thank you.

And he kept walking, and I went to the bank.

But my day was then complete.

Syndergaard, I suppose, might not be so used to getting recognized on the street now, but he may have to get used to that (others might go incognito altogether). Now that the Mets are among the final 4 teams playing in this 2015 season, they're starting to get a little notice.

I'd say "notice," but not really "respect."

When the Mets made the playoffs, I read an overwhelming number of articles, the summation of which was "The Mets are a nice little story, but they can't hang with the Dodgers," and the Mets were pretty much universally picked to lose the NLDS, because 15 of 20 ESPN analysts can't be wrong. But they were.

Now, they're here against the Cubs, and I guess on some level the entire world is rooting for the Cubs because they're the Cubs and they're eternally the sad-sack team in Major League Baseball. But all this attention and all those Rookies bombing Home Runs all over the place have turned them into the favorites. Dare I say it, but given the streak they got on down the final two months of the season, and the fact that they've got the most unhittable of unhittable Pitchers, they're The Hot Team right now. And you know what happens when anyone deigns to step up against The Hot Team.

The Mets played the Cubs 7 times this season and lost all 7. But the Mets were a different team back then. These games were in May and July and the Mets of May and July wouldn't have made it this far. Anyone who wants to look at those games as some barometer of how this series will go is welcome to do so, but it won't do you much good. Maybe the Cubs are similar, but the Mets are not.

Still, the Cubs are heavy favorites, and I guess that makes sense. Consider how public they were this season. They were on Sunday Night Baseball basically every other week, and every time they were, Jake Arrieta threw a No Hitter and Baseball Jesus Kris Bryant hit 3 Home Runs. The Mets, on the other hand, received almost no National exposure, and when they did, it was usually against the Yankees, and the Mets usually made asses of themselves. So if you didn't know any better, you'd assume this was a mismatch and the Cubs would wipe the Mets out completely.

But it's never quite that simple, and as I've been saying about the Mets all year long, this is a good Baseball team and nobody wants to admit it. They're far better than anyone will or wants to give them credit for, and that's one of the reasons they've made it this far. Just listen to the Cubs fans all over the place. They're licking their chops right now and in their minds, they've already crowned themselves World Series Champions. But these games have to be played and, well, the Mets stand a very good chance of giving the Cubs fits. Lest I remind you what happened back in 2006, when the Mets played a Cardinals team that was nothing?

The Mets surely don't have the offense to hang with the Cubs and their Galaxy of Mashers, but what they do have are four Pitchers, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, who can be counted on to give the Mets a good outing and at absolute worst keep them in games. The Cubs rotation is not as deep. Unlike in a 5-game series, the Cubs can't line themselves up to have Lester and Arrieta start every other game and even so, when the Dodgers did that with Kershaw and Greinke, they still lost. This is the sort of stuff that can turn a series upside down. The Cubs more or less floated here by bombing the Cardinals C-level pitching into submission, while the Mets had to ride their pitching and create their own breaks facing Kershaw and Greinke 4 times in 5 games. They've already had their crucible. The Cubs haven't had one yet.

Point is, I'm not making any sort of a prediction here because whatever happen will happen and regardless of who I pick you all know who I'm rooting for. But for those of you who must, this series isn't as cut and dry as everything you might read. And for you Cubs fans that think you have this thing won, don't get too comfortable. This Postseason has already shown us how general logic can and will get thrown out the window.

No comments: