Monday, February 22, 2016

Not Taking The Bait

You know it's Spring Training when you hear all sorts of prognosticators talking about the upcoming season and heaping praise on whoever the hot team might be, and I have to say it's kind of strange this season coming in to Spring Training and seeing the Mets drawing a near-unprecedented
amount of positive ink. I guess, as much as I kind of hate to admit it, the Mets have to be regarded as a front-line contender to return to the heights they reached last season. This sort of worries me, mainly because I've seen the Mets come into a season like this before and it didn't turn out well. Then again, not many Mets teams have had the kind of roster that this Mets team does.

From the point of view of someone who'd rather his team play the underdog and silently lurk on the sidelines waiting to strike, this is uncharted territory. Now, the Mets are supposed to do well, and rather than being dismissed by other teams, they're not going to sneak up on anyone.

This, of course, brings me to the quote that popped up today from Bryce Harper, who happens to be the best player on the team the Mets will probably be scrapping with all season long for NL East supremacy, saying that he thinks the Mets are "The team to beat."

And the first thing I thought was, "No no, Bryce. We've been through this before."

I'm going to venture that this reverse-Jimmy Rollins was some weird effort by Harper to fire up his own team, but I take it as disingenuous. We're supposed to buy the lather job from a guy who proclaimed he didn't give a crap about us while his own team burned? It made sense last Spring when Harper came into camp with his chest puffed out and Zack Wheeler had some interesting things to say about that, but he stopped short of that legendary 4-word sentence, because at that point, he probably would have drawn no end of ridicule.

When Rollins said what he did, most people scoffed at him because how could the Phillies, mostly an also-ran in 2006, stand up against the Mighty Mets? But it provided him and his team with the juice to get through the season, rally together and not just kick the Mets in the teeth but really embarrass them in the process, and really, that quote from Rollins was the kickoff point for the greatest era in Phillies history. Harper and the Nationals aren't a bunch of up-and-comers now. They're a team that has done nothing but underachieve for 4 seasons now and it really came to a head when the Mets—who made no proclamations about themselves or anyone else last season—pulled a 2007 Phillies on them.

Point is, the Mets continue to make no proclamations other than to show a universal front that they have unfinished business from last season to take care of and that's going to be the story of their season. And to get to that point, they have to beat the Nationals, hopefully in a large majority of the 19 games they'll play against each other this season.