Statheads who haven't played organized sports since high school (or in my case grade school) tend to discount intangibles such as a winning spirit, attitude or tradition, but athletes seem to believe in these things. Does winning in the minors carry up to the majors later on?
I'm hoping 2013 will be like 1983, the prelude to an extended period of excellent baseball for the Mets. In 1983 the Mets finished dead last with a 68-94 record, but I vaguely remembered that I was excited that the team kicked ass at the minor league level. So today I looked it up, and I was right.
In 1983 AAA Tidewater had a 71-68 record, but they were the 1st half champions. That team was managed by Davey Johnson, and had Wally Backman, Darryl Strawberry, Ron Darling, and Walt Terrell, who would later be traded for Howard Johnson. Mike Fitzgerald, who handled the catching for the Mets competitive 1984 team before Gary Cater go there, and Jose Qquendo, who went on to a successful career with the Cardinals, were also on the team. Many of these players moved up to the big club some time in 1983, leading to a second half dropoff, but the Tides won the Triple Alliance championship anyway.
Similarly, AA Jackson finished just 69-67 but was also the 1st half champion. That team featured Kevin Mitchell, Roger McDowell, and Calvin Schraldi, who would later be traded for Bobby Ojeda.
Even more impressive A level Lynchburg was 96-43 and Carolina League Champion, featuring Lenny Dykstra and Dwight Gooden.
And A level Columbia was 88-54, the 1st and 2nd half champions, with Dave Magadan, Randy Myers
Finally Class A Little Falls was 48-27, finishing in 2nd place, with Rich Aguilera.
Like the young players who came up with the Mets in the late 1960s these guys were used to winning, and expected to keep doing it. Yes they were also good.
Individual achievements can bring interest and excitement to losing teams, the way Johan's no hitter and RA Dickey's Cy Young did for the Mets last year. But ultimately we want a winner. I hope that our prospects can start beating their prospects this year.