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Game Notes: Mets vs Nationals (04/12/2006)

I've watched a lot of baseball in my life, and I've pored over countless columns of baseball statistics, particularly over the past handful of years. I've had countless baseball discussions with friends, acqaintances, and even total strangers. Through all of that, I've managed to boil down all of my baseball knowledge and experience to the following tidy equation:

winning = fun
Pretty simple, really. The Mets are winning games, and it's a hell of a lot of fun. They're winning with good pitching, with steady (and occasionally astounding) fielding, and with a balanced offensive attack the likes of which we haven't seen on a Mets team in nigh twenty years.

It's easy to point out that the Mets have been beating up on the dregs of the National League East, and it's true. The Marlins will lose a lot of games, and chances are that the Nationals, while not awful, won't win more games than they lose. Yet, Mets teams in recent memory have had a lot of trouble with the "beatable" teams.

Really, one of the keys to winning championships, or at least making the postseason, is beating up on the little guys and holding your own against the elite teams in the league. If you can win 75% of the time against the lower third of the league, you can afford to win 50% of the games against the other two thirds of the teams and still glide into the playoffs. To wit:

      54 x 75% = 41 wins vs. lower third
          108 x 50% = 54 wins vs. upper two-thirds
                      95 wins
95 wins will get a team into the playoffs most years. The numbers above represent an over-simplification of how the season might unfold, but the general idea holds. Think back over the past five seasons: how many games have the Mets dropped to mediocre ballclubs? Even from 2002-2004 when the Mets were sub-.500, they were still losing a lot of ballgames to sub-sub-.500 clubs.

I'm trying to keep my optimism in check, considering that we are less than 5% into the season. Yet, it's hard not to be excited by this team, by what it has accomplished thus far and what accomplishments might lie ahead for it. I'm having fun.