Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Reasons to Look Forward to MLB 2009

Funnily enough (I like using the word 'funnily' every so often), I don't much care for the World Baseball Classic. Maybe I'll watch it, maybe I won't.

For me, it's more of an inconvenience than anything else. Players will get hurt. The season won't start until April 6th. The USA will get embarrassed by other nations.

But I have a theory about the World Baseball Classic, which I'm about to share with you. It could just be the salve to the Mets' late-season struggles we saw in 2007 and 2008.

You may have noticed I used the World Baseball Classic logo from 2006. That was intentional. 1) I couldn't find one from this year (or I didn't look hard enough - one or the other). But, more importantly, 2) 2006 is Exhibit A (and really the only exhibit) in my argument.

In 2006 the World Baseball Classic was held and the Mets put together their most complete season in the past 20 years. Even when they went to the World Series in 2000, and appeared in the post-season in back-to-back seasons in 1999 and 2000, they weren't as good.

The next two seasons following '06 were utter disappointments.

We all know - the team folded in the final two weeks of September. Now - I ask you to think back to 2006 - remember the Mets' struggles in mid-September, when they lost 3 games in a row to the lowly Pirates when they were attempting to clinch the division? They had a terrible September then, too, but it was overshadowed by the fact that they had built such a huge division lead.

What I'm here to tell you is this - the World Baseball Classic gave the Mets some prep time on the season, so that everything shifted up a couple of weeks. Like every funk, the Mets would have played their way out of the funks of '07 and '08 - they just ran out of games. In 2006, the funk came at the same time, games-wise, but earlier in September, because of the WBC. Then October came and the Mets righted the ship....until Game 7 of the NLCS.

I know it's slightly backwards logic - I hope you're still with me. But it makes sense. The other caveat is that more of the Mets' players will be tired because they will be involved in the games, which they weren't in 2006. I don't necessarily agree - I think the same thing will happen with the slumps those individuals (read: David Wright) would have gone through anyway.

So while I agree with those who say the World Baseball Classic is a bad thing, for this Mets fan, it's going to pay dividends in some fashion. Expect a big year in 2009....provided Wright doesn't get hurt playing third base for the U.S.

This idea was going to originally be "Reasons to Look Forward to the Mets in 2009", but I realized there are probably going to be some general baseball reasons as well as Mets reasons. So I've expanded it. Most will have to do with the Mets (like this one). Also, I'm counting up, rather than down, as we head towards the baseball season, because I'm just not sure how many items there will be in this feature. We'll go until we hit Opening Day.

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