by Steve

First in an occasional series of ill-considered, ill-thought out musings on the baseball season. Y’know, to keep the post count up and stuff.

So, the Mets won on Opening Day, beating the Atlanta Braves 1-0, and going 1-0 for the season. By my advanced sabermetric calculations the Mets are now on course to go 162-0 for the year and be the greatest team in baseball history. Apparently they are something like 33-18 for Opening Day games, which while showing they often start well, seems one of the more redundant stats baseball has to offer – and that is coming from someone with a high tolerance for obscure, esoteric and downright daft stats.

For once, I missed the start of the game and caught the end. My routine is often the other way around. If I’m catching a live game quite often the time difference means my sleepyhead lets me down for the later innings. If I’m listening to an archived game the next day at work I’ll quite often get to the fifth or sixth inning then have a meeting/talkative colleague/rare-piece-of-work-that-requires-my-undivided-attention get in the way of the rest of the game.

So, it made a nice change to watch the game from the seventh inning onward, for the Mets to still be in the game, and then see the Mets cling on to a victory. As much as the team is all about a “Ya Gotta Believe” philosophy, and I love the romanticism and optimism behind it, I’m enough of a realist to know that if recent seasons are anything to go by, a 1-o lead isn’t enough for the Mets.

And here is where the shiny, new bullpen came in, and for one game at least, proved me wrong. The Mets had some pretty appalling relief pitching numbers last year, and have brought in some new faces to shore up those key late innings. And yesterday, the plan worked. Relief pitching seems to need a mix of ruthless efficiency, unflappable calm and just being good consistently. I’m sure it’ll go wrong a few times this year, but Rauch, Francisco et al generally calmed me down as they shut down the Braves.

Jon Rauch seems a scary fella, and as such I think I’d rather have him on my team than against it. I shall endeavour to find out what his scary neck tattoo is too. Frank Fransisco is a big, burly closer, and endeared himself to me immediately because of that. I like a good sportsman that doesn’t look like a whippet.

A good start – bring on Game Two on Saturday, with, I believe, my favourite pitcher and all-round nice guy, R.A. Dickey.