Monday, July 2, 2012

Weekly Recap, June 25-July 1

I've reached the halfway point of my program in Ireland, and the New York Mets have just about reached the halfway point of the 2012 season. Pictures from my weekend exploring all Dublin has to offer are coming up later, but first here's what happened on the week that was in Amazin' baseball.

Team Record: 4-3 (43-37 overall)
June 25-27, Cubs Series: L, 1-2
June 28-July 1, Dodgers Series: W, 3-1

The Good Stuff:
  • The finale of the Mets-Cubs series was a day game, so with the time change it was the first game I've been able to watch overseas in full. Man oh man, what a game it was to see. Daniel Murphy breaking out of a slump, Ike Davis confirming his return to greatness, David Wright raking and making his case for the All-Star start (we'll get to that matter shortly), and a home run cycle to top off a 17-1 thrashing in the Friendly Confines of Chicago.
  • New York followed that up with a convincing series win in Los Angeles, including 2 shutouts from baseball's best 1-2 punch. R.A. Dickey and Johan Santana both tossed 8 scoreless innings on Friday and Saturday and were helped out with plenty of offense, each making their final cases for All-Star glory as well.
  • The best offensive numbers of the week belonged to the boys on the right side of the infield.
    • Ike Davis blasted 3 home runs and drove in 9 runs, pounding out an OPS of 1.188. Since hit pinch-hit RBI double in the finale of the first Yankee series (June 10), Ike's been raking with an 1.120 OPS and has finally gotten off the Interstate with a season's batting average of .203.
    • Daniel Murphy's June swoon took his average down to .268 after the first two games in Chicago, but aided by the outward winds of Wrigley on Wednesday afternoon, he was able to break out for a heck of a week. How's 4 games of 3 HRs (his first of the season), 10 RBIs, an 1.621 OPS, and just one strikeout sound?
  • One of the less-chronicled developments of June was the return of Ruben Tejada and his impact on the field. In 8 games since returning from the DL, Ruben's provided a more-than-solid presence at short and in the 2-hole, batting .353 and scoring 6 runs.
The Bad Stuff:
  • Such a great week was bound to produce a winning record, but at just 4-3 a touch of disappointment is in the air. The Mets, lost the series to the last-place Cubs after "running out of gas," as Terry Collins put it. I can understand his reasoning; it was the toughest stretch of the season headlined by an emotional Subway Series (plus saying goodbye to Little Jerry Seinfeld), but the creampuff Cubs were supposed to provide a winnable cushion for New York. The 17-1 thrashing in the finale makes up for a lot of the lethargy, but all-in-all it equates to a game lost in the standings.
  • New York also had the chance to take 4 straight from the Dodgers for the first time ever, but missed opportunities and sloppy field play sunk the team during their second straight appearance on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball.
    • On the bright side, it keeps the outside expectations for the team comparatively low. The Mets have thrived on defying expectations in the Alderson-Collins era, and they have a chance to continue doing so the rest of the way.
All-Star Disappointments:
  • On Sunday it was announced that R.A. Dickey and David Wright were named to the National League All-Star team. Both appointments were extremely well-deserved, and Dickey and his knuckleball remain frontrunners to start the game on the hill. But overall, it was a disappointing afternoon for fans of the orange and blue.
    • David Wright's rightful place starting at the hot corner was taken away by rabidly voting San Francisco fans, who produced a mutiny by getting Giant Pablo Sandoval the start at third base. Sandoval's only played half a season and has an OPS around 200 points under that of MVP candidate Wright.
    • The other big snub was the exclusion of Johan Santana from the roster. Johan's ERA sits at 2.76, doubly impressive considering he lost a whole year to a devastating injury. He's tied for the league lead in shutouts (2, with Dickey and Giant Matt Cain) and tossed the first no-hitter in Mets history on June 1. His W-L record stands at just 6-4, which is probably how he lost the roster spot. Heaven forbid an injury to any of the named All-Stars, but if fatigue from a weekend start should sideline any of them from the game in Kansas City, I would hope Johan would get the nod.
  • Aside from the big three of Wright, Dickey, and Santana, no other Met really stands out as a definitive All-Star. Daniel Murphy may have gotten some consideration if not for a lousy month of June. Had Ruben Tejada not missed a month and a half he and his .317 batting average and (would've been) around 26 doubles would've been borderline.
Final Analysis:
If this week was made into a sandwich, you'd have some pretty stale bread but over-the-top fantastic meat in the middle. The Mets were underwhelming in the first two and last games of the week that was, but were producing some extra-quality baseball during the four games in between. At 3.5 games out of first place with a 6-game homestand to go before the All-Star Break, a couple convincing series wins will be just the fuel the team needs to propel them to a second half in contention.


Irish Pics of the Week
The main wing of Kilmainham Gaol, a famous prison from the 1800s and early 1900s that housed the leaders of the unsuccessful Easter Rising in 1916. Those leaders were executed in the Gaol's stone yard by British authorities, turning public opinion in favor of Irish independence.
War Memorial Gardens, built in memory of Irishmen who died fighting in World War I

The actual Temple Bar, the pub for which the Temple Bar area is named

St. Patrick's Cathedral

Croke Park, national stadium of Ireland and home of the Gaelic Athletic Association
The stands are packed for a Gaelic football match between Dublin and Wexford
A rare sport I am unfamiliar with, Gaelic football is a combination of football, soccer, rugby, even basketball

No matter where in the world, sport is sport
Check back again next Monday for more pictures from Eire and Amazin' updates.


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