Mandel’s Musings – Scott’s Take On The National Sportscape

Published on: 7th December, 2011

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Mets Red Sox Baseball
Mandel's Musings - Scott's Take On The National Sportscape

New York Mets Jose Reyes watches from the dugout rail against the Boston Red Sox before a baseball game in Boston, Friday May 22, 2009. Reyes is listed as day to day with tendinitis behind his right calf. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Original Filename: Mets_Red_Sox_Baseball_MACK105.jpg  | read this item

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New York — Good luck to the newly-named Miami Marlins and their new shortstop, Jose Reyes. They are opening a new stadium down there in Florida and are pulling out all the stops in creating a groundswell of interest among a fan base that is apathetic, at best. If they believe Reyes is the type of player who will mobilize the retirees in South Florida to take in a ballgame, they have a rude awakening in front of them.

Reyes loves to play the game and is one of the most exciting talents this side of a young Alex Rodriguez. His problem has always been an inability to stay on the field long enough to actually play the games. His chronic and balky hamstrings have led to his missing as much as a quarter of the 162-game schedule, more or less. Perhaps, the warm weather will do wonders for his hammies but if the past three years of his career are any indication, Marlins fans will begin to bellyache about their new shortstop’s hammy-aches.

In the meantime, fans of the poor (literally, poor) New York Mets are crying in their collective soups about the prospects for their favorite team,  without Reyes to contribute his 120 games per season to their sub-.500 record. From this point of view, don’t fret Mets fans. I think there’s a chance your heroes can quickly develop an intimidating offensive core of mostly young players who will surprise the National League, quite possibly as soon as this coming season.

An infield of David Wright, Ruben Tejada, Daniel Murphy (second base), and Ike Davis is going to pound National League pitching staffs. All are offensive forces. Unfortunately, three of these four (excluding Tejada) are also capable of pounding the baseball when they are on the defensive side of the field. But, Terry Collins, the Mets manager fully expects defensive  improvement from Davis and Wright, will be counting on Tejada to be a defensive glue of his infield, and will try to protect Murphy from hurting himself with a fielder’s glove on his left hand. But, Murphy looks like a natural .300 hitter with batting championship potential. If the power-hitting Jeff Kent, not fleet of foot nor smooth with a glove, could turn himself into a decent second baseman, Collins has to hope Murphy will do the same. It will be crucial Davis turns himself into a first baseman who can turn many of the poor throws that will be coming his way from Wright and Murphy into outs at the first base bag the way all the good ones do.

In the outfield, Jason Bay, Angel Pagan, and Ike Duda are going to provide more offense than most other teams will claim. With the Citifield outfield walls being brought in by several feet next season, Bay’s warning track power of the past two years will turn him into a 25-30 homer man, again. Duda can hit the ball out of any ballpark in the game. Pagan needs to regain his level of proficiency of two seasons ago, combining speed, defense, and his timely hitting again. At age 30, he is in the middle of his physical prime.

As it is for most teams, it will come down to pitching and more pitching for the Metsies. If they can get lucky with Johann Santana’s recovery, Mike Pelfrey finds his form without the pressure of having to be an ace, Jonathan Niese continues his development into a top-notch lefthanded starter, while Dillon Gee and R.A. Dickey give the Mets more of what they demonstrated last season,  the Mets have a chance to surprise. The bullpen needs a closer, which makes the Mets no different than most other teams not named the New York Yankees (Mariano Rivera) or Philadelphia Phillies (Jonathan Papelbon).

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Didn’t the Giants loss last Sunday to the undefeated Green Bay Packers feel a lot like their 2007 regular season loss to the undefeated New England Patriots just a few weeks before the G-Men went on their Super Bowl championship run that year? It seems the confidence level of Tom Coughlin’s gang has gone up exponentially from the very fact of scaring the bejeesus out of Aaron Rodgers and company at MetLife Stadium in front of the screamingest Giant crowd since the new stadium opened. The Giants learned they could move the ball at will against the Packers. And yes, they unfortunately also learned they couldn’t stop Rodgers’ dart-like passes throughout the game but hey, it was a game until the last seconds went off the clock.

Yes, the Giants have lost four in a row and have fallen into second place behind the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East but luckily, the Cowboys and other NFC teams in the mix for a wild card position in the playoffs are keeping pace with the losing ways of the Giants, giving fans of Big Blue a scintilla of hope their Jersey Boys can still see the post-season.

Is this what Paul Tagliabue had in mind when he talked about parity in the NFL among all teams? Mediocrity has admittedly led to some exciting, high-scoring, dramatic games but in this day and age, there doesn’t appear to be one NFL defense capable of stopping an NFL offense. Unless Rex Grossman or TylerPalko are quarterbacking that offense, of course.

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