Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Death of Broadcasting Integrity

It's been quite some time since the last time I had something significant to say. I figure I'll leave all the words that everyone shares for the other blogs out there. But this is a topic that I haven't seen tackled much, though many have recognized the problem. It is the death of integrity within the baseball broadcast booth.

Gone are the days of Ernie Harwell, Jack Buck, and Harry Kalas. Certainly, in their heyday, broadcasting a baseball game on television and radio was an art form. And yet, none of the great voices of our national pastime set out to become the legends that they now are. Instead, they focused on telling a story and depicting the images of our favorite game.

My father recollects that he would stay up late in the summer with his radio, able to pick up signals of almost every game east of the Mississippi. Perhaps he never knew the names of the men who delivered those games to his ears; but I wager that their notoriety was not paramount to my father or they themselves.

In this age, digital media has exploded and made it possible for anyone with an internet connection and a few bucks to see or hear baseball around the country in multiple languages. But the local broadcasters are worse than ever, with their national counterparts matching their ineptitude. So what is the problem? Why has broadcasting shifted from quality to quantity?

The way I see it, there are four reasons that broadcasting integrity has died:

1. Words, Not Names, Make Men: If you are a Hall of Fame baseball player, that makes you an expert at playing the game. Unfortunately it does not mean you would make a good coach or analyst. However, name recognition amongst broadcasters seems more important than ever. Sure, if you're a former ballplayer, you have more credibility than some guy named Joe on the street. But that doesn't mean you know any more about baseball than our friend Joe. Networks covering sports in general seem more concerned with the fame of analysts than their commentary contributions.

2. Information Overload: If you've never watched a Dodgers game before, do yourself a favor and watch one while you still have the opportunity to hear Vin Scully call a game. Several years ago, I tuned in to a game to hear nothing but the subtle murmur of the crowd for about a minute before Vin picked up the call of the game. The ability of a broadcaster to allow a game to "breathe" is crucial. Simplicity is beauty. Meanwhile, broadcasters today are busy trying to cram facts and stats and fun side stories into their commentary. Half the time, it seems they don't even know what's going on with the game itself. There's a reason they call it play-by-play, not story-by-story.

3. Lack of Due Diligence: There's one thing I hate more than being bombarded with stats during a game: being hit with inaccurate statements. Whether it's mispronouncing a player's name or asserting a fact about tendencies that just isn't true, nothing infuriates me more than hearing something wrong. National broadcasters tend to be the primary culprits of this crime, but local broadcasters can be just as guilty, especially when speaking about the visiting ball club. The first rule of journalism is to portray accurate facts to the best of your ability.

4. The Pursuit of Fame: This one is a little harder to quantify, but I believe it does happen. Harry Kalas had a very distinctive home run call. Jack Buck made many memorable calls, none bigger than of Kirby Puckett's World Series homer. These days, it seems many broadcasters are trying to find their own voice. They want to have a unique call or be recognized for their style or tone. Rather than deliver the game as it is presented to them, they instead force-feed themselves to the audience. And all that ruins the natural flow of the game.

What the death of broadcasting integrity really comes down to is a lack of respect for the greatest sport created. The golden ages of baseball were graced with players like Mays and Mantle and Koufax. During their great careers, there were equally great voices coloring us a picture of effortless swings, running catches, and dazzling fastballs. They respected the game.

Until baseball fans recognize and demand change in the fact that broadcasting no longer does the sport justice, they will continue to endure sub-par commentary.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Revival of Jimmy Rollins

It's early in the baseball season. Much too early to draw any conclusions about performance. The baseball statistician will always warn: be careful of small sample sizes.

Still, what jumps out most about this early start for the Phillies is the play of Jimmy Rollins. He looks healthy. He looks as good as ever on defense. And most of all, he looks great swinging the bat. Rollins has revived his short, compact swing and has delivered with well-timed hits on grounders and line drives. It's exactly what Phillies fans have wanted from him for so long.

Hitting in the third slot in the order, Rollins is expected to be the centerpiece of the offense. While he hasn't had any extra-base hits yet, his presence with the lumber has been felt to the tune of a .500 batting average and a 1.071 OPS. While unsustainable, those are numbers that any lineup would take from their third hitter, even in short spurts.

So what is the reason for this surge? It very well might be the position in the order. But not just because Rollins has Ryan Howard batting behind him. Instead, it might be who is hitting in front of Rollins that is aiding his success. The Phillies have collectively been on base a lot early on, meaning Rollins has hit with men on base frequently. This shifts the defense, opens holes, and puts pressure on the opposing pitcher. It's something Rollins rarely had a chance to enjoy when he was leading off games.

Here's a look at Jimmy's first three games:

4/1 - Bases empty: 1-for-3, Men on base: 1-for-1
4/2 - Bases empty: 1-for-1, Men on base: 1-for-4, K
4/3 - Bases empty: 0-for-1, Men on base: 2-for-2, 2 BB

Again, small sample sizes. So it got me to thinking about Rollins' career numbers with men on base versus with no one on base. Clearly, most hitters will have more opportunities with the bases empty. But it is even more pronounced for a career-long lead-off hitter.

Still, here at the plate appearances and stats for Rollins in his career:

Bases Empty: 3912 PA, .262 BA,.312 OBP, .414 SLG, .282 BABIP, 6.5% BB, 12.6% K
Men on Base: 2228 PA, .291 BA, .358 OBP, .482 SLG, .299 BABIP, 9.2% BB, 11.5% K

As would be expected for any hitter, all of Rollins' stats improve with men on base. Not only is Rollins making more contact with more power when men are on base, but his plate discipline also receives a boost, especially in the walks category. Finally, and most importantly, the batting average of balls in play for Rollins with men on base is a very sustainable .299.

The early signs of this season, coupled with Rollins' career numbers, suggest that if he continues to have a contact approach, he can sustain his revival of solid production from the three hole in the Phillies lineup.

* Stats courtesy of

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Would Kyle Kendrick Succeed in the Pen?

Given the temperature of baseball in New York, I thought it was about time to just start writing about the Phillies without adding the New York spin. It's clear that the Yankees only care about themselves and that almost no one cares about the Mets. So here's a perspective about my home team from afar.

Much has been made of Kyle Kendrick's struggles recently. With the Phillies broadcast suggesting that he was available in relief in tonight's game, it made me wonder if Kendrick's vocation is simply pitching in a different format, not moving half way around the world. So I tried to forget his recent troubles and took a look at some of his split stats over his career.

The most obvious splits would be between his starts and relief appearances:

Starter: 79 G, 442.1 IP, 4.80 ERA, .297 BABIP, 4.0K/9
Reliever: 10 G, 19.0 IP, 3.32 ERA, .279 BABIP, 4.7K/9

Despite the extremely small sample size of his relief appearances as a professional, it appears that Kendrick is a stronger pitcher in relief. The difference in BABIP is slight, as is his strikeout rate, but his ERA is almost 1.5 runs lower.

Being that Kyle is not a strikeout pitcher, but instead supposed to be a ground ball specialist, he would probably not do well in high leverage situations. But I'm not convinced that he would just need to be a mop-up man either, based on his leverage splits:

High: .292 BAA, .267 BABIP, .833 OPS, 0.81 K/BB
Medium: .282 BAA, .295 BABIP, .781 OPS, 1.66 K/BB
Low: .299 BAA, .308 BABIP, .845 OPS, 1.69 K/BB

Along with having the best numbers in medium leverage situations, these splits tell a few things. In medium and low leverage situations, Kendrick has a BABIP around league average, meaning his performance in these situations is likely sustainable. However, in high leverage situations, he is actually getting somewhat lucky. Therefore, Kyle would likely be a candidate for middle relief, medium leverage situations.

Now let's take a look at his batted ball and plate discipline data for his career. This shows his line drive, ground ball, fly ball, and infield fly ball rates, as well as his first pitch strike, contact, and total strike percentages:

Batted Balls: 21.8% LD, 45.7% GB, 32.5% FB, 8.4% IFFB
Plate Discipline: 59.4% F-Strike%, 88.8% Contact%, 48.5% Zone%

While these numbers aren't ideal for a reliever, they must also be considered in context. All but 19.0 of Kyle's innings in the big leagues have been as a starter. Under those circumstances, Kendrick must pitch to contact given his lack of strikeouts. Clearly, if he were to become a reliever, he would need to throw more strikes and first-pitch strikes.

But in relief appearances, it may be possible for him to focus more on the task at hand and begin inducing a greater number of ground balls. The old adage of quality over quantity may have a beneficial impact on his effectiveness. With the way Kyle has struggled, a simple change of scenery to the bullpen may not hurt. And there is a potential that it would benefit the Phillies, by shaving innings off of Jose Contreras and Chad Durbin's workloads.

* Statistics are again courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Best Pitcher in the NL East

Remember back in February when Roy Halladay was asked who the best pitcher in the NL East was? He was humble and mentioned a number of solid starters, such as Florida's Josh Johnson, his teammate Cole Hamels, and even New York's Johan Santana. In a word, Halladay was the essence of class.

One of his NL East counterparts was not. Johan Santana boldly proclaimed who he thought the best pitcher in the division was with a single word: "Santana." Usually the single-named person is reserved for the most accomplished of people, so initially, I was a little shocked that he thought musical great Carlos Santana had taken up pitching. But of course, what the Mets' pitcher really meant was himself.

Now that we are approaching the end of the regular season, I thought it would be fun to re-assess this position. And I didn't think it would be fair to analyze post-season performances, since Santana will, of course, not have any yet again. But looking back at the regular season thus far, who really is the best pitcher in the NL East?

I broke down the division's top five pitchers' (based on ERA+) season statistics in the following sabermetric categories*: IP, ERA+, FIP, WAR. Here's what I found (through September 3):

Josh Johnson: 177.2 IP, 182 ERA+, 2.50 FIP, 5.9 WAR
Roy Halladay: 214.0 IP, 182 ERA+, 2.79 FIP, 6.6 WAR
Tim Hudson: 191.2 IP, 175 ERA+, 3.75 FIP, 3.2 WAR
R.A. Dickey: 139.1 IP, 138 ERA+, 3.59 FIP, 2.6 WAR
Johan Santana: 157.2 IP, 121 ERA+, 3.56 FIP, 3.7 WAR

Just for argument's sake (and for fun), let's compare Santana's best statistical season with Halladay's projections this season, which statistically is not even his best season:

Santana (2004): 228.0 IP, 182 ERA+, 2.92 FIP, 7.7 WAR
Halladay (2010): 252.1 IP, 182 ERA+, 2.79 FIP, 7.7 WAR

This doesn't take things into account, such as the fact that Roy Halladay is a family man and wanted to move his family to a good community, and he even accepted less money to do so. This doesn't adjust for the fact that Roy Halladay threw a perfect game but gave all of the credit to his teammates. He even spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to honor them. Statistics don't tell the whole story, about a pitcher's work ethic or respect for the game.

Based on stats, there could be quite a debate about who the best pitcher in the division really is. This being a Phillies-based blog, I could argue with you night and day that Halladay is better than everyone else on that list, especially Santana. Heck, Johan might not even be the best pitcher named Santana. But truth be told, I think there's little argument about who the best pitcher is from a human standpoint. Roy Halladay's grace wins that honor over every other starter, including Johan Santana and his sexual exploits.

* Statistics compiled from Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference. Learn more about sabermetrics there.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Baseball Season in New York

Here it is in the middle of August and the New York Yankees are in the midst of a division race with the Tampa Bay Rays. The New York Mets... are not. But still, you'd have a hard time figuring out that it's baseball season in New York City.

Amidst the hipsters and tourists, there is rarely a Yankees hat to be seen. But even the "average" native New Yorker won't acknowledge baseball season. Most often, apparel is sported by small (and most likely dumb) children. Occasionally, a disproportionately die-hard Yankees fan will be seen, dressed to the nines in Yankees apparel, full with an unauthentic jersey that says "Jeter" on its back (despite the fact that the real Yankee uniforms never have names). But both of these sightings are still the exception to the rule.

In fact, it is more common to see a Phillies hat or t-shirt on the streets. Maybe it's just trendy to like the back-to-back NL Champs. More often though, a "style-cap" will be worn by people who don't even know that baseball is a sport. For instance, a Royals hat. Really? Did you dress yourself this morning? Why not just wear your shirt with "LOSER" stitched across the front? No offense to Royals fans, as I'm sure they exist somewhere. But really, baseball has nothing to do with liking a team's charming colors.

So I wonder when baseball season really begins in New York. I'm sure there will come a day in the not-so-distant future that the whole "energy" of the city will shift to the Yankees. And since this season appears to be one that will culminate with the playoffs, I'll have a front row seat to every casual resident that becomes an overnight baseball guru and opine about topics they heard on WFAN. I'm sure things will change a little, at least by the time October rolls around.

You always hear people talk about St. Louis and Boston and even Chicago as being great baseball towns. But never New York. And it is surprising to a certain extent, but now I see why. When you step back and look at the teams in New York, you get a sense of history. But the last of the charm that New York offered to baseball died last year when the Yankees moved to their new stadium. It's no wonder that they have struggled with attendance, when the average Yankees fan cannot afford to go see their overpaid team.

When I moved to the New York City area, I was excited to feel the baseball atmosphere propelled by two clubs and a couple of the fiercest rivalries in the sport. But it is not a team or a player or a milestone that makes baseball so special; it's the fans. It's sad to say, but if you're a true fan of baseball, then you'll be a lot more excited about the sport in a town other than New York.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Weekend Rivalry

Well it has been a while since I've had something to share about New York fans. But fresh off of a three game series between the Phillies and Mets this weekend, I've been left to ponder what proper ballpark etiquette entails in a weekend rivalry.

Certainly, between rivals such as the Phils and Mets, there will be understandably more opposing fans in town. I've seen the Phillies play in a variety of crowds. I can remember the mid-00s when the Mets fans would outnumber the home crowd at Citizens Bank Park. I've seen the Phils on the road in places like Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium. And I can even remember a handful of semi-pathetic, cowbell ringing Rays fans in town for a soggy World Series Game Three. But what makes New York fans different than the fans of, say the Cardinals (who I understand are almost friendly to a fault)?

Well for one, I noticed how the general demeanor of Mets fans has gone from arrogant, to somewhat confident, to humiliated. Speaking to a number of fans on the subway, they are generally apathetic towards their team and baseball, especially in light of the Phillies' and Yankees' recent success. Some fans are sarcastically bitter towards the way their team is managed. The headlines the Mets have been making lately probably don't help. It's almost to the point that I pity their fans. But to be clear, I don't.

So on Friday night at Citi Field, the Phillies were shutout. And throughout the pitcher's duel, the primarily pro-Mets park was disinterested in the game. It's hard to imagine this, given the Johan Santana Koozies that fans got. But once the final out was recorded, then some half-hearted heckling was directed my way. It was actually a little disappointing, as I would have expected much sharper insults and retorts given the Phillies' single hit in the game was courtesy of Cole Hamels. No luck.

On Saturday, despite the results from the previous night, Mets fans were not trash talking but instead, dreading the game even before we got there. Why? Two words: Roy Halladay. The crowds were generally more Philly-inclined and much more into the game. Every 'Let's Go Mets' chant was easily turned into a 'Let's Go Phils' by my section of fans, despite the celebrity endorsements. But the real excitement came when a couple of hot-headed Mets fans, who were clearly too smart for their own good, started antagonizing our section. What ensued was quite possibly the most pathetic and anti-climatic fall over several rows of seats by the Mets fans.  It was at  best a weak attempt at a fight. Fortunately, they were arrested shortly thereafter.

But, for a baseball rivalry that everyone seems to want, the weekend disappointed. The Mets, just a few games away from irrelevance in the 2010 season, have inspired almost no fan support. During key points in the games, even the fake crowd noise meter on the jumbotron couldn't get revved up all the way. And so, in the end, New York Mets fans really did nothing to distinguish themselves in any way, positive or otherwise, this weekend. It almost takes the fun out of watching Philly beat New York.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Yankees Bubble

Living near New York City has shown me exactly what I already knew to be true about Yankees fans. They live within a baseball bubble that extends no further than the Bronx. While some might have an inkling about what the Mets are up to, ignorance is almost a prerequisite to being a Yankees fan.

I remember back in the 2006 season when the Phillies and Yankees hooked up in a mega-deal that sent All Star Bobby Abreu to New York. My then boss was a huge Yankees fan. He came to me the next day and asked me who Bobby Abreu was and if he was any good. Thinking this was a joke, I just laughed, knowing that the former Phils' slugger was one of the premier right fielders in the game. But he persisted that he had never heard the name Abreu before. This was just one example of the enormous bubble that Yankees fans live in.

But there's a general sense of superiority among the fans of the Yankees. I can't say I completely blame them, as their franchise is certainly historically good. It's just baffling how little they know about the sport itself. In order for the Yankees to survive, so too must baseball. Their fans, and many times their ownership, acts as if this was not relevant. With the exception of fantasy baseball players, I'd venture to guess that every Yankees fan cannot name a player outside of New York or Boston.

The bubble extends well beyond just the fans, though. In broadcasts this week, we've already heard the Yankees commentators speak unknowingly about prominent Phillies players like Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth. My opinion of New York sports commentators is already well known if you read this site. But the New York press is, in general, guilty of spreading the baseball ignorance among fans like a wild fire.

While I am certainly not a baseball expert myself, I take pride in learning as much as I can about the sport that I love. If you don't some basic, big names, do yourself a favor and learn more about Ty Cobb and his impressions of Babe Ruth. Or take the time to watch Bill Mazeroski's famous game seven home run. But I used to consider that knowledge about a player like Ted Williams was fairly commonplace. My same former boss and another colleague clearly did not, as we discussed the theory of shifting the defense against pull-hitting lefty hitters:

"I saw that they are starting to play the 'Giambi Shift' against Ryan Howard," they said.
"Yeah, teams have been shifting against him, but what is a 'Giambi-Shift'?" I asked, giving them the benefit of the doubt that it was something unique to their steroid-riddled first baseman.
"It's when they move the infield defense to the right side," they said.
"Oh, you mean the 'Williams Shift' then?" I said.
"'Williams Shift'? What the hell is that? I've never heard it called that before."
"That's what it was called when teams first started playing inverted defenses against Ted Williams."
"No, it was never called that. I've always heard called the 'Giambi Shift.' That's what it's called."

I didn't bother arguing any further, because I knew it was futile. It was then that I came to the sad realization that Yankees fans don't suffer from a lack of baseball intelligence. They all lack basic, fundamental human intelligence. But don't get angry or hate Yankees fans for this ignorance. It's a sickness, not a crime.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Rules for New York Broadcasters

One of the subtle joys of living in the New York market is being subjected to their world-class sports announcers.  Whether it's listening to Walt Frazier of the Knicks' using (and often misusing) the biggest words that he is able to pronounce, or drying tears while listening to what the Yankees' Suzyn Waldman has to say, New York broadcasters are notoriously bad.  Typically, the least of my concerns are the stars of Mets TV games on SNY.

However, with the start of the Phillies-Mets series this week, I have been forced by blackout restrictions to listen to them babble incoherently over my baseball game. Along side of play-by-play guy Gary Cohen are two former Mets, who also happen to be some of the least-informed commentators of all time--Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling.

Now as I mentioned, normally I leave SNY alone because it is the least of my concerns when ridiculing New York sports. But in last night's game, the trio along with their network, laid a spectacular egg. Less than a year earlier, Big League Stew anointed them as one of the best groups in the business. Remarkable. But it got me to thinking, what are the rules for New York Broadcasters? I'll go through the highlights of Tuesday night's performance to give an example of each:

1. Exaggerate Facts - Every good New Yorker knows stats don't tell the whole story unless they are skewed in favor of New York. Case in point, on Tuesday's broadcast, Gary Cohen tossed up this gem about Raul Ibanez: "He's got two and a half more years left on his contract." (In reality, Ibanez has just over a year and half remaining on his current deal). Later in the game, he compared Luis Castillo to Jerry Rice on a catch.

2. Pretend it's Game Seven - If not for the millions of fans in the New York area, who would tune in to games? In order to make sure that fans stay interested, Cohen and his crew are notorious for saying things like "here comes the tying run to the plate for a showdown" in the second inning of games. But they suffer from the same syndrome as Chip Caray; if every play is called like a game winning play, then what happens when there actually is a dramatic moment?

3. Keep the Fans Coming Back - I was in the middle of making this list when a perfect example was handed to me for fan engagement. Keeping in mind that this is a three game series, a commercial in the middle of the sixth inning for the Mets said "Tomorrow night the Mets go for the series win against the Phillies!" Granted the Mets were leading at the time, the game was hardly a forgone conclusion. But why else would Mets fans tune in?

4. Ignore Statistical Accuracy - This one is not directed towards the broadcast team and is a little rarer.  But in Tuesday's game, SNY was guilty of blatantly showing inaccurate stats on the game, for several minutes. Below is a screen grab during Jose Reyes' at bat in the sixth inning. At the time, the score was 5-0, there was one out, and it was actually the bottom of the sixth. However, SNY displayed 8-0, no one out, and the top of the seventh for the entire at bat.

There are certainly more rules that New York commentators adhere to that are absolutely ridiculous. They all came together in a medley of disgraceful broadcasting on Tuesday night. For such a big market, it's surprising that New York teams (even the Mets) cannot afford higher quality media representatives. As Meech would say, LOLMETS!

Monday, May 17, 2010

When Rivalries Go Wrong

It's been a while since my last post, as I have adjusted to dealing with New Yorkers.  It's not easy.  Spending a whole day commuting and working with them takes a lot out of you.  Normally I take about an hour each night just isolating myself from their point of view.

And while it has been exciting to plot my next post to revel in the Mets' recent (and predictable) tumble from the top of the NL East, I have opted to forgo that topic.  At least for now.  Instead, I look toward the media machine that habitually hypes rivalry games between New York sports teams and their foes.

In this particular instance, I take a look at the most notorious of all rivalries, the Yankees against the Red Sox.  If ever there were two teams that were built for such a bitter feud, it's these two.  But if you're reading my blog, then you are a sophisticated enough fan to already know their back story.  Tonight, the two open a quick two-game series in the Bronx that is being billed as a potential playoff preview.

I will take this moment to remind you that it's mid-May.

I am the biggest fan of baseball and passionately miss the sport for half the year.  When the season comes, I watch every game and scrutinize the details of every pitch.  But aren't spring baseball games meant to be a little more, well, fun?  A lesson I learned early on is that you'll wear yourself out if you try to make every game feel like a playoff game.  It's a long season.

One Yankees fan I know even lamented that these types of rivalries have impeded on his other interests.  With the NBA and NHL playoffs in full swing, he was hoping to catch some games at the restaurant where he bartends.

"Oh man, I hope the Yankees and Red Sox aren't playing this week."
"Why not, I thought you were a Yankees fan?" I asked.
"No one will ever let me even check the score of the hockey games," he said.
"I'm sure you can catch it on the ticker."
"It's just not the same.  It's like people have to watch the games, even though they really don't care."
"Don't you care though?" I mused.
"Sure I do, but at what price?"

His point is right.  I don't suggest that we abandon baseball until the meaningful games.  I probably won't even watch the other sports this week, myself.  But it's almost disheartening to see such hype over a rivalry to manufacture interest in the sport.  It's almost like the fans feign more of an interest than they really have.  Do Yankees fans really care if they are playing the Red Sox or the Athletics?  I think all that fans should really care about is that their team wins.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Jump to Conclusions Mets

Before watching the Phillies and Mets do battle over the weekend, I was watching one of my all-time favorite movies, Office Space.  And one of the scenes in the movie made me think of one of the most endearing qualities of New York fans, especially the Mets fans.

Ever since the Mets started resembling more of a baseball team again, it seems like all of their fans have come out of hiding.  I can't fault them for their lack of interest in a subpar team, as I would be less cavalier about the Phillies if they were awful.  But what can be said about many Mets fans, especially those that I know personally, is that they love to jump to conclusions.

One of their favorite players to get behind is Mike Pelfrey, the embattled starting pitcher, who is fresh off a season in which his ERA was north of 5.00.  Still, the big right-hander has had a solid start to the season, which has led some to anoint him as the co-ace of their staff.  Even before the Phillies lit him up, I disagreed with this opinion.

But the Mets fans are eager to forget the days when they wanted to be the 'team to beat.'  Even back in 2007, it seemed like the New Yorkers struggled for originality.  So it got me to thinking, what original thoughts might be on a Mets' Jump to Conclusions Mat, in light of their recent success.  Fortunately for me, I didn't have to think of anything witty or creative; the Mets fans handled that for me.  The following are some original quotes that I have heard or overheard from Mets fans this year:

"The Mets already have this division [National League East] locked up, it's no contest."

"Ike Davis reminds me of Adrian Gonzalez.  In fact, he might already be better than him."

"[Jerry] Manuel is doing such a great job without much talent.  He has to win Manager of the Year."

"You'd be hard-pressed to find a better one-two combination than Santana-Pelfrey."

"Looks like we're headed to another Subway Series!"

Now I had planned on rebutting some of those remarks, both to their authors and here on this blog.  But really, there isn't much to say.  It's great to support your team and have confidence.  And I'm excited that perhaps there will be a rivalry again.  But for some reason, I just can't talk to a Mets fan without bursting into uncontrollable laughter.  I believe the square that Mets fans should be looking for is that big green one in the middle.

Think again.