Congratulations to the Mets! They overcame the odds and theoretically tougher opponents to win- nay, cruise to- the National League championship. Although a few did mention them in spring, most pundits assured us the Washington Nationals didn’t even need to show up for their games. Bryce Harper & Co. simply owned the division. Most nights it seemed the Nats didn’t show up. The Mets, on the other hand, despite my April prediction of 81-81 and third place for them, never broke stride and won the division easily and dispatched with the (on paper) much better Dodgers before sweeping the underdog Cubbies. And Toronto fans cheered. Or at least we should.
The Mets sweeping the NLCS is about as good an outcome as we could hope for, setting the Blue Jays up for what could be an easy World Series. the numbers like us.
Consider that as we know, the Jays are a good home team. Toronto has a definite home advantage with knowing the bounces of the artificial turf not to mention the remarkably loud, enthusiastic fans in the ‘dome. Toronto won 53 home games this regular season, the Mets were only 41-40 away from Citi Field. And, to remind you of the obvious, thanks to the AL win in the All Star Game, the American league has home advantage in the World Series.
Consider too, that although the two clubs “met” only four times this year, the home team won each game. Toronto, however, outscored the Mets 20-8 in the games. Overall, Toronto had a good year against NL opponents (one of several distinguishing marks that made this year more successful than the last few), going 12-8, and 7-3 at home. They outscored the nationalers by a full 50 runs in those games. NY by contrast, were 9-11 against the AL, including only 3 road wins.
More important than all those numbers though is the way the Mets won. Sweeping the Cubs no doubt excited Jerry Seinfeld and other Manhattan fans … but set the team up to lose. It’s counter-intuitive for sure, but put it down to momentum. Post-strike, post-back to back Jays titles, only five teams have done previously what New York just did- sweep the league championship series. The ’95 Braves did, as did the 2006 and 2012 Tigers, the ’07 Rockies and last year’s Royals. Of those five, only one – the Braves- went on to win the World Series. And they had home field advantage. The red-hot 2007 Colorado team, as well as the ’12 Detroit staff went on to be swept in the big show, actually. Each of the five teams started the World Series with a loss. Having a break of five full days (as the Mets will have) seems to kill any sort of momentum the team has going. Perhaps it also allows them to revel in fan adoration a bit too much and become over-confident. Either way, history shows teams that have had to grind and struggle to get to the finals end up doing better than teams that had an overly smooth, fast-track there. The Jays after a tough 7 game series against KC should be primed and in top shape.
Five days off should cool off the world’s hottest hitter right now, Daniel Murphy (who has been spectacular) so opponents might expect once again the type of infielder he normally is – good, by all means, a solid .280 hitter who this year had 14 long balls and hit just a bit above his career .424 slugging percentage. Not the guy with homers in six straight games and an insane 1.294 slugging in the championship series we’ve seen. Our side, Jose Bautista, front and center in the national spotlight should shine. In the four games against New York this year, he was 4 for 11 with two homers but also five bases on balls , equaling a .529 on base percentage. The Mets do have a dynamite young starting staff, but of the four prepped to go, only Steven Matz is the soft-tossing southpaw that supposedly gives Toronto trouble. And the Rangers might have a thing to say about that theory anyway, thanks to Martin Perez and Derek “I Hate Bautista” Holland.
Yes, the Blue Jays are set to do just fine winning their third World Series facing the New York Mets… oh, yeah. Just one problem with that. A certain team on the Missouri River might have something to say about it. David Price had better go against history tomorrow and win a post-season start if we want that scenario to take place.
My daughter-in-law just finished her chemotherapy after a dodgy year battling Lymphoma. It makes me appreciate my health all the more and say I’m very happy for John Farrell of the Red sox , diagnosed now as cancer-free a few months after taking leave from his team due to the Big C. And to wish ex-Blue Jay Daniel Norris best wishes for a quick and hopefully pain-free recovery from the cancer he apparently is battling too.
Those who know me or read here frequently know I disliked Farrell on many levels such as his apparent lack of loyalty to the Blue Jays when he was manager but I still respect his career and more importantly, empathize with his suffering and would wish him nothing but the best when it comes to his personal life.