The Mets began their 44th and penultimate season at Shea Stadium in a winter chill yesterday against division rivals the Philadelphia Phillies. After losing two games to the Braves they should have won, karmic reordering saw to it that the Mets defeated the Phillies despite doing everything in their power to lose. This includes John Maine pitching only 4.2 innings after allowing a home run a career high 6 walks. Then Willie Randolph headscratchingly leftAmbiorox Burgos in to pitch to MVP slugger Ryan Howard with two on and a base open (Howard took him deep). Somehow the Phillies fell apart in the late innings with an error, a wild pitch, poor relief pitching, and all around sloppy play to allow the Mets to turn the game into a laugher.
I have to admit that I took pleasure in Jimmy “We’re the team to beat in the NL East” Rollins’ error that opened the floodgates. This is the type of thing that could help create a deep-seeded rivalry between the two clubs and their fans. Major League Baseball has some great rivalries in the Red Sox-Yankees, Cubs-Cardinals, and Giants-Dodgers, but the Mets have never had a longstanding rivalry. There were some good times between the Mets and Cubs in 1969 & 1984 (how likely is that two franchises with histories of futility managed to have coinciding great years twice in a fifteen year period?), the Mets and Cardinals 1985-87, and the Mets and Braves on and off since 1997. By regional proximity though, the Phillies should be the Mets natural rival. Should the Phillies recover from their bad start this could be the start of something big. Even better would be the Mets, Phillies, and Nationals fighting a three-way battle year after year for NL East primacy (with the Mets finishing first each time, of course).
By the way, I found this awesome blog post that offers a Mets season preview from the perspective of Lou Reed.
Players of the game (I award up to ten points, maximum of 6 points to one player, distributed among the Mets players who had the biggest impact in the game):
Phillies 5, Mets 11: Box Score
- Alou 1
- Beltran 1
- Delgado 2.5
- Feliciano .50
- Franco .50
- LoDuca .50
- Reyes 1.5
- Smith .50
- Valentin 1
- Wagner .50
- Wright .50
The Red Sox began their home season today with their 96th home opener at Fenway Park. I saw fans in their Red Sox gear on the T at 10 am, and I think the game was worth getting there early for.The day began with a salute to the Impossible Dream team that won the AL Pennant in 1967. That team was a big turning point in Red Sox history coming at a point when they were a cellar-dwelling franchise in decline. A lot of Boston’s reputation as a great sports’ town with die-hard Red Sox fans developed only in the last 40 years. During this time the Red Sox have an incredible record of consistency, finishing with a losing record only 4 times in that period, winning 90 games or more 11 times, finishing in 2nd place 12 times, winning the AL East title 5 times, playing in the post-season 11 times, and earning four American League pennants. I think the real statistical improbability is that the Red Sox have only one World Series Championship to show for their forty years of excellence while several woefully inconsistent franchises like the Marlins, Blue Jays, Twins, and yes, the Mets all have two in the same time period.
Today the Red Sox demolished the Mariners 14-3, and it wasn’t even that close. The Sox scored in each of the first 5 innings to build up a 13-1 lead. Surprisingly Big Papi wasn’t responsible for any home runs, extra base hits, or RBI’s in the smackdown. Josh Beckett saw to it that the big lead really wasn’t necessary by holding the Mariners to only 1 run and 2 hits over 7 innings with 8 strikeouts (including Ichiro 3 times!). Lots and lots of numbers means lots and lots of fun.
Daisuke Matsuzaka returns to the mound for his Fenway debut tomorrow night. Can Boston withstand the hype?