Sunday, December 30, 2012

Studious Metsimus Presents The Happy/Crappy Recap For 2012

The Mets packed their bags three months ago.  Now it's time for us to send 2012 packing as well.  Although the Mets finished the year with a 74-88 record - their fourth consecutive losing mark - the year did not pass without a number of memorable moments.

We got to experience R.A. Dickey in every way.  He started the year as a mountain climber.  He then morphed into a best-selling, brutally honest author.  Soon after, he was featured in a compelling documentary.  All that just served as an appetizer for the 20-course meal he served up during the regular season, which culminated with a rich and satisfying Cy Young Award for dessert.  Of course, those who want seconds will now have to find the finest Canadian restaurant to get it.

We got to see David Wright prosper without Jose Reyes by his side.  We also got to see him rewarded for his efforts by becoming the first lifelong Met since Ed Kranepool hung up his cleats and took Chico Escuela's soap.  Of course, making him the richest Met of all-time kind of helped in Wright's decision.

In addition, we also got to see the progression of Jonathon Niese from so-so pitcher to dependable middle-of-the-rotation starter.  With a 13-9 record and a 3.40 ERA, Niese became a solid No. 2 starter behind R.A. Dickey.  Now that his long-term deal is signed, Niese expects to be a key figure for the Mets for years to come.

Of course, we also saw something we had never seen before.  We got to see a zero on the Citi Field scoreboard in a place we had never seen a zero before, regardless of the Mets' home venue.

The year had a bunch of reasons to be happy.  It also had its share of crappy.  Let's go over those moments, beginning with all things happy.

Twenty wins.  230 strikeouts.  Five complete games.  Three shutouts.  Back-to-back one-hitters.  If you don't know what those numbers mean, then you weren't following the Mets in 2012.  R.A. Dickey completed one of the most memorable seasons by a Mets starting pitcher since Dwight Gooden in 1985.  But Dickey was more than just a great pitcher.  He endeared himself to Mets fans with his intelligence and candidness.  He told it like it is.  He wasn't afraid of anything.  Then again, for someone who once attempted to swim across the Missouri River, facing the New York media was probably a breath of fresh air.  Dickey began the year climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.  He ended it by reaching the top of the pitching mountain in the National League, winning an unexpected Cy Young Award.  It was certainly a wonderful year to be R.A. Dickey.

David Wright spent most of the first half of the season competing for the National League batting title.  Despite coming back to Earth in the second half, Wright still finished sixth in the National League MVP vote.  It was his highest finish since 2007, when Wright registered his only 30-30 season.  The lifelong Met will have plenty of opportunities to finish higher than sixth in the MVP race now that the Mets have signed him to an eight-year extension that will keep him in blue and orange duds through the 2020 season.

After a 16-year absence, Banner Day made its triumphant return in 2012.  Fans lined up 126th Street before the game with banners that hadn't seen the light of day since Mark Clark was the Mets' ace.  Of course, the best banner - although not the winner - made the claim that "no-hitters are overrated anyway".  I wonder what the carriers of that banner were saying a few days later when a certain Mets lefty took the mound.

That certain Mets lefty was Johan Santana.  And when he took the mound on June 1, he was pitching better than anyone could have hoped for after missing the entire 2011 season with a shoulder injury.  In his previous effort, just one day before Banner Day, Santana shut out the San Diego Padres.  Perhaps Santana saw that "overrated" banner after his shutout of the Padres.  Perhaps he had an extra bowl of Froot Loops the morning of June 1 because he liked all the "O"s in the name.  But something special was in the air at Citi Field on that Friday night, and the scoreboard reflected it with "0" after "0" after "0", and not just in the runs column.  Santana pitched the first no-hitter in team history on that magical evening, holding Carlos Beltran and his Cardinal teammates in check despite St. Louis entering the game with the highest batting average in the National League.  It was a night no Mets fan will ever forget.

As happy as those moments were, there were also some crappy moments in 2012.  Time to break out the orange and blue toilet paper to see what we can wipe up.

After finding themselves in a first place tie at the one-third mark of the season, the Mets played .500 ball through the All-Star Break.  Despite the mediocre play, the Mets found themselves only half a game behind the Atlanta Braves for the second wild card spot.  But after the Midsummer Classic, the Mets would have been happy to just play at a mediocre level.  Instead, they continued what has become an alarming annual tradition by playing poorly after the All-Star Break.  The Mets went 28-48 after their four-day summer vacation.  The only National League team with fewer wins after the break was the Houston Astros, who went on to lose a franchise-record 107 games.  The Mets didn't approach that number, but they sure played like a 107-loss team after the break.

Johan Santana provided a lot of happy on June 1.  But after that date, he was nothing but crappy.  In ten starts following his no-hitter, Santana posted an 8.27 ERA.  Opponents batted .327 against him (a far cry from the .000 batting average against him on June 1) and smoked 13 home runs in only 49 innings.  For the fourth consecutive season, Santana didn't throw a single pitch after September 2, with his 2012 season ending prematurely after allowing six runs in five innings against the Washington Nationals on August 17.

The bullpen.  Do I have to say more?  Other than Bobby Parnell, who had a 2.49 ERA in 74 appearances, the rest of the pen was constantly springing leaks.  Manny Acosta, Miguel Batista, Tim Byrdak, Robert Carson, Josh Edgin, Frank Francisco, Jeremy Hefner, Elvin Ramirez and Ramon Ramirez all made at least ten relief appearances.  None of them had an ERA under 4.24 and four of them had ERAs over 5.00.  How bad was the bullpen?  Jon Rauch allowed seven homers and lost seven games and still had the second lowest ERA of any pitcher in the bullpen.  If there were men on base and the bullpen phone rang, opposing hitters would salivate like Pavlov's dogs.  Simply stated, the three words that described the bullpen best in 2012 were stink, stank, stunk.

That's all, folks!  After this post, we'll be signing off for the year 2012.  However, we can't end this year without giving our thanks to those who have influenced us and supported us.

A big thank you goes out to you, the readers, for making this site a success.  When this site began in 2009, it averaged a few dozen page views per day.  Since then, Studious Metsimus has gotten over 200,000 page views and counting, with our high point coming this past October, when we had over 15,000 page views in that month alone.  To more experienced bloggers, that might not seem like much, but considering where we began three years ago, that's a tremendous number.  Every time someone clicks on a Studious Metsimus blog post, they have no idea what they're getting themselves into.  And that's exactly the point.  Studious Metsimus isn't supposed to be like anything else you've ever seen.  I mean, we employ a teddy bear to be our roving reporter and culinary expert.  And how many Mets sites have culinary experts anyway, whether they be warm-blooded or non-blooded?  When you're a Mets fan, you have to be a little different, and Studious Metsimus certainly takes that to another level.  So thank you once again for joining me on that ride.

I'd also like to thank our fellow bloggers for providing additional news, insight, entertainment and chicken nachos that make the blogosphere a better playground to play in.  Sites such as Mets Merized Online, Metstradamus, Remembering Shea, Kiner's Korner, The Real Dirty Mets, The Apple, Mets360, On The Black, MetsBlog, Rising Apple, Random Mets Thoughts, Kranepool Society, New York Fan In South Jersey, Metszilla, Mets Police, MetSilverman and assorted others are all worth your time.  They're all read and recommended by the Studious Metsimus staff.  And before you say "you forgot one", I have a separate shout out reserved for Faith and Fear in Flushing.  Not only do Greg Prince and Jason Fry provide us with some of the most original and thought-provoking pieces in the Mets blogosphere, but the words they use in their posts would make R.A. Dickey run for his nearest dictionary.  (And before I forget, give yourself a belated Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa present by picking up The Happiest Recap: First Base (1962-1973).  Author Greg Prince knocked it out of the park with this first of four volumes that recap 500 Mets victories over the years.  Even Endy Chavez couldn't take that homer away from him.)

Finally, I'd like to give a special thank you to my wife, Taryn Cooper, who will always be my Gal For All Seasons.  She's been a Mets fan for many years (you didn't think I'd give away her age, did you?) and an inspiration to me since before the first time we met.  I can't think of a better person who I'd want to share my Mets memories with (and hopefully create some new ones along the way).

From our family to yours, we'd like to wish you a happy and healthy New Year.  And remember, if you think you have a concussion, please take care of it.  You wouldn't want to forget that you're a Mets fan.  See you next year!

Photo by Sharon Chapman


Anonymous said...

I probably would've made that list if I'd blogged a damn thing in the past month or so. Still, it was great meeting up with you in October, and with your beloved then and twice over, before that:)

Ed Leyro (and Joey Beartran) said...

Thanks so much, Ray! I appreciate everything you've done for our entire family (and I'm talking about the furry inanimate members too).

Dave Murray said...

Great job all during the season, Ed!

Ed Leyro (and Joey Beartran) said...

Thanks so much, Dave! Hopefully there will be more "happy" than "crappy" for the Mets in 2013.