Ahhh, Mediocrity. It's Liberating.
As a result of an out-of-town trip, I missed this weekend's games against Gabe Kapler, J.J. Hardy and the rest of the '27 Yankees, er, 2008 Brewers. Boy, Shea Stadium seems like an awfully warm and fuzzy place to be right now. I may be making my first trip out there this week, and I'm looking forward to seeing the loyal fans boo everyone from Carlos Beltran to the guy working at the knish stand.
I think the problem here is not, as everyone seems to think, simply a hangover from 2007. Rather, I think the problem is that people still expect this team to play like it's 2006. To that I say...HA! C'mon, this team's just not that good. Some talent, sure. The best pitcher in the NL and a dynamite (albeit currently underachieving) left side of the infield. But after that? Feh. How much greatness is on this team? Santana, Wright, Reyes, and.... Beltran is good and can get hot. I like Maine and Pagan a lot. What else we got? Delgado is finished. Castillo is finished and we're saddled with him for 4 years. Schneider can't hit. Church is ok, I guess. Perez has wicked stuff but is certifiably insane. Pedro, Alou, and Duque are MIA. Pelfrey might end up being ok, but is certainly nothing special right now. And the bullpen, other than Pedro Feliciano, is populated by a bunch of choke-artists, pouters, has-beens, and never-will-be's.
And this you boo? From this you expect greatness every single game? Get some realistic expectations, people. Embrace it. It makes watching a game infinitely more enjoyable. Every victory will be a sweet surprise, and you'll take every loss in stride. And who knows, maybe they'll find their way into the playoffs (which at this rate would be a miracle of Biblical proportions). If so, we should not cop a ho-hum, "big deal, they need to go all the way now" attitude - instead, we should all be delirious with joy that they even got that far.
So, get 2006 out of your minds. In actuality, this is more like 1998, when a superstar joined a bunch of middling players. (Although clearly Wright & Reyes > Alfonzo & Olerud). In other words, go to Shea, have fun, cheer the wins, shrug your shoulders at the losses, and, above all, feel free to make other plans this October.
By the bye, you'll recall that after Pedro's injury, I outlined the 12 steps that will constitute the remainder of Pedro's 2008 season. Well, it appears that we're now up to step 4, "we're hoping before the All-Star break." Too bad the only thing we're going to see before the All-Star break is steps 5, 6 and 7.