It was fifty-three years ago in 1962 when Casey Stengel, the Mets first manager, labeled his hapless team as Amazin’. No one knows for sure but it must have been a adjective he chose carefully. Because it’s a word that suggests something illusionary – something not real that belongs in the field of “magic”.
I mention that because last night in listening to the Mets announcers on SNY as the Amazins rallied to yet another victory over the Nationals, they couldn’t stop repeating “This is a fairy tale season” as Cespedes deposited another game winner in the left field seats.
This is not magic and it’s not a fairy tale, folks. This is a solid ballclub doing what they have been built to do. General Manager Sandy Alderson made the right moves (at the right time) and Terry Collins applied the finishing touches with his Manager of the Year people skills that formed a juggernaut of rising spirit that suggests in the clubhouse “Yes, we can do this”. From there on each player takes responsibility for himself as a part of the team. If anything, that’s the only “magic” we are seeing. It’s called team building. You develop a strategy and then you implement it. In the Mets case, they put starting pitching as their first priority. Anyone doubt they have succeeded in doing that? And then they filled in the holes adding Tyler Clippard to the bullpen, bench players Uribe and Kelly Johnson ( both great clubhouse men), and finally a rental with power in Cespedes.
In sum, the Mets are everything the Nationals are not. Picked by virtually everyone to run away with the Division, they have floundered and flopped. And fans of the National’s know it better than anyone as only (a average of) 27,000 of them showed up for the series of the year with the Mets. They went for the gold in Scherzer, paid the price and lost because they lacked the all important strategy of team building.
Finally, a disclaimer. I am a Yankees fan first and foremost. But beyond that, I am a fan of baseball. So when teams like the Mets and Astros rise to the top – like the Royals last year – it gives me pause to notice, appreciate, and
watch what they are doing and how they are doing it. It’s simply baseball at its best.