Monday, July 14, 2008


METS FANS believe in their team again after a nine-game winning streak. Yankees supporters can only hope for a similar run following the All-Star break to get them into contention.

Belief and hope. There’s a big difference between the two. A few weeks ago, there was little belief at either Shea or Yankee Stadium.

How things have changed over in Queens. The doom and gloom at the end of the Willie Randolph era have given way to a new energy and optimism under Jerry Manuel.

The Mets (51-44) already have one ace in Johan Santana. They could have another now the penny has dropped with Mike Pelfrey.

Palfrey, who started the year with six losses in eight decisions, pitched another shutout last night to record his eighth victory of the year. 

Suddenly, the Mets have a starting rotation to be feared. And with Wright, Beltran and Delgado finding the seats with their bats, the Mets now look like the World Series contenders I, for one, predicted before the start of the season.

They go into the All-Star break just half a game behind the Philadelphia Phillies. Who’d have thunk it a month ago?

Let’s keep things in perspective. Their last six wins have come against two of the worst teams in baseball – the San Francisco Minnows and Colorado Rocky – but then the Mets were losing to similar opposition under Randolph.

While things are buzzing again at Shea, the mood is distinctly somber over at Yankee Stadium – scene of this week’s All-Star festivities.

According to Derek Jeter, the Yanks (5045) are playing well, they just keep coming up against lights out pitching.

Well Derek, I think it’s time for a new pair of glasses to replace the rose-tinted spectacles you’re currently wearing.

The Yanks are NOT playing well and apart from a good road trip to Oakland and Houston, have been stop-start all season.

Yankees offense has been spluttering all season

Their much-vaunted offence has managed only 436 runs in 95 games. Six teams in the American League have done better than that. They have scored two runs or less in 33 of those games.

We’re not talking about the second half now. The Yanks have 67 games in which to overcome a six-game deficit on the Boston Red Sox and five and a half on the Tampa Bay Rays.

They can count themselves lucky that the Rays have hit their bad patch earlier than expected. A seven-game losing streak has kept the Yanks in contention.

Historically, the Yanks are a second-half team. They were in a worse position last year and still made the play-offs.

But unless general manager Brian Cashman makes a major trade, which looks increasingly unlikely, the resources at manager Joe Girardi’s disposal look pretty thin.

Girardi can only hope that his hitters hit with more consistency in the next two months. They won’t do that with Brett Gardner, Justin Christian, Wilson Betemit and Chad Moeller playing regularly.

Girardi better hope Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon return shortly; he better hope Chien-Ming Wang, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy are back pitching again by early September; he better hope that Jorge Posada can catch; he better hope there are no more injuries.

That’s a lot to hope for. But, unlike the Mets, hope is all Yankees fans have to cling to at the moment.

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