I had two thoughts while reading Jack Curry's piece this morning -- 1) he's right about the Phils and the Mets, and 2) Curry almost seemed to be inviting attack by sabermetricians. From the get-go, Curry serves of heaping spoonfuls of non-quantifiable touchy-feeliness:
Shane Victorino described the optimistic feeling in the Phillies’ dugout as “a sense.” The players do not share any specific words or special handshakes if the Phillies are trailing. But Victorino said they do share the belief that the beginning of a comeback is one pitch away.
In his observations of how differently the Mets and Phillies have fared in late innings, in my opinion Curry overemphasizes hitting performance vs. pitching performance, only alluding indirectly to the Mets bullpen failures of recent seasons (as well as this season) by noting the importance of the the Phillies "stellar bullpen." But that's really my only complaint with the piece.
While he didn't make any reference to the Phillies "grit," I could practically hear a collective groan about sentences like:
The Mets and the Phillies each scored 799 runs last season, and had comparable lineups, but the Mets do not have the same instincts to fight back.
Did he really say "Instincts to fight back?!" What an old fart, eh? Yuk, yuk.
And then there's Curry's brief dip into statistics:
One statistical measure of clutch hitting is how players do in close and late situations, which is defined as at-bats in the seventh inning or later when the score is tied, one team is ahead by a run or the tying run is on base, at the plate or on deck. Utley (.714, 2 homers), Ibanez (.583, 3 homers) and Matt Stairs (.500, 1 homer) currently have three of the top six averages in the N.L. in those situations. The Mets do not have anyone in the top 25.
First a derisive guffaw over "clutch hitting" and then a contemptuous eye-roll accompanying the objection that this is a small sample size.
And yet . . . having watched the Mets over the last 2+ seasons, I do "feel" within my "heart" that there is "something" lacking in the Mets "chemistry." Repeated late game and late season failures aren't entirely attributable to a lousy bullpen and boneheaded, old school managerial decisions.
Yes, one month does not a season make, but I've largely lost the optimism I had gained in the off season from the Mets bringing in Putz and K-Rod. I'm not sure how I would "fix" the team were I suddenly to assume Jerry's or Omar's job. I know I wouldn't have added Sheffield. I want to believe that Murphy will get demonstrably better in the outfield as the season progresses as long as he gets the opportunity. What's up with Wright? He does seem to be pressing, as if the pressure of the last two season implosions stil weigh on him. Are the 27 KOs a symptom of him trying too hard to banish the past with home runs? The rest? Mostly intangible, to me.