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2011 New York Mets: 8 Things Not to Expect

I hate to be the ultimate Debby Downer. I love my Mets. I always will love my Mets, because they will always be my Mets.

But let’s be realistic here, the Mets aren’t in great shape financially and they’ve had bad karma of late because their team was purchased using “Madoff money.”

Don’t get me wrong, I still think the Mets have a legitimate shot at contending for a majority of the season. They have talent, but they play in one of the best divisions in baseball, which makes life extremely difficult when playing for that Wild Card spot. And in order for the Mets to make strides forward, they must take a couple of steps back.

I’m not rooting against the Mets. I actually hope I’m 100 percent off on all of these—well, most—I kind of hope to see Beltran gone. So without letting my heart interfere with my head, here’s eight things that I am not expecting out of the Amazins this season. 

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Ken Griffey Jr. Made Baseball Cool

When I was growing up in the ’90s, there was one guy who every young baseball player wished he could be: Ken Griffey Jr.

He made baseball more exciting than anyone else in the game and kept my short attention span focused on a slow-paced sport.

I remember playing wiffle ball in my backyard, imitating Griffey’s swing, even though I was right-handed—that smooth left-handed swing with the one-handed follow-through, the prettiest swing in the history of baseball.

The way the guy played the game was amazing. He really was the first baseball player in his era to make the sport cool for a younger audience—an audience that had options to follow other action-packed sports. Griffey brought the action to baseball, steering the younger crowd towards the great sport of baseball.

I know this was the case, because I grew up in a time when football was emerging as the most popular sport in America. The one thing that kept me glued to baseball was the excitement that Griffey brought to the ballpark every night.

When Griffey would participate in the home run derby every year, everyone watched. He was the coolest cat out there with his backwards hat. He brought a certain swagger to a sport that had been lacking an attractive attitude for younger fans.

I wasn’t a Mariners fan, but Griffey was one of my favorite players. If it wasn’t for him, I might not be following the New York Mets the way I do today. He is the reason that I grew up with baseball.

If he never got hurt, there is no doubt in my mind that he would have broken the home run record and would have gone down as one of the statistically great players ever. 

We all know how important statistics are to baseball purists, so those of you that are statistically driven, don’t read this next part. 

I don’t care what the stats say—Ken Griffey Jr. was the greatest ever to play the game.

There was never anyone to play center field the way he did, and there weren’t many that were as physically gifted. If you just watched the way Griffey played the game, you didn’t need to look at statistics to know that he was the greatest outfielder ever. Based solely on the eyeball test, Griffey is the greatest ever.

The overall production of his career will land him in the Baseball Hall of Fame, without a doubt. But those numbers don’t do justice to what he brought to the sport every day.

And we all know the greatest baseball video game ever is Major League Baseball Featuring Ken Griffey Jr.

I could just keep going on about Griffey’s contributions to the sport, but as a journalist for a college newspaper, I feel that I am not worthy of commemorating a player such as him.

Major League Baseball is in a hangover right now; the sport is decreasing in popularity, whether it be due to the steroid era or the dominance of the NFL. If you go to baseball stadiums nowadays, you rarely see a sold-out crowd, and the TV ratings are down.

Baseball needs another Ken Griffey Jr. to step up and make it exciting again, for the future of the game. However, I don’t know if there’s a player like that right now. Albert Pujols is putting up inhuman numbers, and because of his stats he will go down as one of the greatest ever, but he’s nothing like Griffey.

Baseball needs someone to make the game cool again.


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Oliver Perez Trade Rumors: Houston Astros Likely Destination

New York Mets pitcher Oliver Perez has been a recent topic of conversation among the Mets brass, but recent rumors surrounding Perez suggest the Mets are deep into trade talks with the Houston Astros.

In the blockbuster deal being discussed between the two teams, the Mets would send the struggling starting pitcher to the Astros in exchange for their top washing machine and a brand new 2010 Cadillac Escalade. 

It is believed that the Escalade would be given to the Mets new No. 3 starting pitcher, Hisanori Takahashi.

Takahashi is new to the United States, he was brought over from Japan in the offseason, and has been driving an older Toyota model for most of the season.

Mets officials felt that Takahashi would benefit from driving around a newer car. Noting that it would enhance his self-confidence and help maintain his valuable production in the starting rotation.

But according to an anonymous member of the Mets front office, the key to the deal is the Astros ace washing machine.

“If you take a look at the Astros uniforms you can tell that they have a top-notch washing machine, their uniforms are constantly clean, and you just don’t see that in baseball these days,” said the anonymous Mets official.

It is believed that the Mets came up with this idea from the movie “Semi-Pro” that starred Will Ferrell.

The Mets have tried to talk Perez into the idea of working on his delivery in the minor leagues, much to the dismay of the southpaw.

It seems unlikely that Perez would receive meaningful work if he remained on the Mets roster.

Whether or not this deal actually takes place still remains to be seen. However, if it does occur, this deal would likely make a large impact on the Mets roster and help them make a run at the National League East title this season.

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Mets in Solid Shape: Leave The Roster Alone Omar

The New York Mets are within striking distance of the Phillies, and there’s no doubt that they have a chance to make a run at the wild card.

But one thing that can really kill the Mets is their General Manager Omar Minaya, not that he hasn’t already done so.

Minaya is desperate to keep his job, and the future of the franchise is in jeopardy if he decides to make another typical Minaya move, trading the best prospects for an older pitcher to help the Mets improve from a slightly better than .500 team to a wild card contender.

The difference between a slightly better than .500 team and a wild card team isn’t huge, and isn’t worth it. Lets face it if the Mets make the playoffs this year do they really have a shot to win the World Series and knock off the Yankees or the Rays?

I’m willing to see this year out, the team is in a good position right now there is no need to sacrifice the future for this season.

One big thing that could kill the Mets this season is firing Jerry Manuel.

If Minaya decides to do this to help save his own job he will only turn the locker room into a circus with the media. The team needs stability and focus, a change at manager mid-season cannot help the Mets, only damage their chances of making the playoffs.

I’m not Manuel’s biggest fan, and I don’t think he has what it takes to lead a team to the World Series, unlike Bobby Valentine, but he is serviceable for this team this season.

If there are changes to be made, do it after the season, and start next year with a new franchise.

The Mets already possess what it takes to perform in the playoffs, and a trade for Oswalt wouldn’t make them any more of a World Series contender than they are today.

In order to make a run in the playoffs it’s essential for a team to possess two standout starting pitchers, and the Mets do in Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey.

And playing in Citi Field can turn any three or four into a good starter. That being said Hisanori Takahashi has a chance to step up and become a key part of this team.

Another key to winning is a great offense. The Mets offense isn’t amazin’ right now, but it’s definitely in the top half of the league. The offense has had it’s bright spots, and they have won games on their own this season.

Admit it, the Mets offense can be as scary as any in the National League, and if Carlos Beltran can make a comeback and become the hitter he was last year before he was injured, the lineup has the potential to carry them to the playoffs on their own.

Once Beltran comes back, the Mets should use Angel Pagan as much as they possibly can. Possibly a platoon in right field with Jeff Francoeur?

The bullpen is fine right now, and Manuel could change the roles around a little bit, but I think as the season progresses these guys will fill into specific roles and excel.

One problem is the mishandling of top pitching prospect Jenrry Mejia. I don’t disagree with keeping him in the Major League bullpen, in fact I love him in the bullpen as a future setup man or closer. But if you’re going to keep him in New York use him.

Clearly the Mets need another pitcher to make a run, but in reality, is this season really worth trading for what’s out there? Maybe Cliff Lee, but even Lee isn’t the youngest pitcher in the league. 

This has to be the last year of the Minaya project, please Omar don’t mess with the future of the Mets just to save a job that you have not performed adequately enough at.

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