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Growing Up Together



By Mike Silva ~ April 8th, 2012. Filed under: New York Mets.

When I looked at the Mets lineup yesterday afternoon against the Braves, I swore I saw it before. Indeed I did, as it was a version that has played together in Binghamton and Buffalo. Some have donned the uniform of the Brooklyn Cyclones and St. Lucie Mets. In total, 7 of 8 starters came up through the Mets system, with 6 in recent years.

Building a young core of homegrown players is important for managing a fiscally responsible payroll. What many don’t talk about is how it could help this team move away from the cloud of negativity that has surrounded them since 2006. Having played together and overcome obstacles creates an atmosphere of trust, hunger and fearlessness. Each have already bucked the odds well before they took an at-bat on Saturday afternoon.

For as much as everyone loved the ’06 Mets, a majority of the roster cut their teeth elsewhere. David Wright and Jose Reyes were the young and homegrown “New Mets” that Carlos Beltran touted at his introductory press conference. That group embraced New York, and appeared to enjoy playing here. When expectations rose to heightened proportions, they couldn’t live up to it and they were deemed failures. That label was exacerbated when dysfunction in management, ownership and with the medical staff made the organization a punch line. Veterans with their pockets already lined aren’t inclined to worry about turning around the Q-Rating of an organization. Not when they already have been successful in most facets of the game. Not when the good days will come long after they are gone. Why help turn something around that won’t bare any fruit in return?

Logic dictates for players coming from outside the organization, this could be a fresh start, but the expectations of one being a proverbial savior dooms many to fail before they take an at-bat or throw a pitch. Look at Carlos Beltran’s legacy for exactly how unforgiving the New York fan can be.

Players like Ike DavisLucas DudaDaniel MurphyRuben TejadaJosh Thole and the newest Mets, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, have tons to prove. They can’t buy into the pessimism of the New York media. If they do, then they might as well punch their ticket back to minor league life. A life that consists of salaries as low as $1, 200 a month, macaroni and cheese postgame spreads, long bus rides and living quarters that are substandard for a college student.

Anyone who has spoken to minor league players knows how difficult a journey it is to make it to the “show.” That’s why I doubt it matters much to Daniel Murphy that Mike Francesa doesn’t think much of him. More importantly, growing up and playing together gives these guys a sense of where they are coming from and what they are up against. They may have been part of the dysfunction of the past five seasons, but their recent status makes them a blank page. They don’t have big money contracts to live up to, or are rooted in the ways of other organizations. They don’t have their wallet in New York, but their heart somewhere else. They are true New York Mets.

All they know is the orange and blue; that has to count for something when facing adversity. Each of these guys, including the long-tenured David Wright, has needed to overcome obstacles throughout their Mets career. Some are fortunate to be here, they know it, and they know they have to produce on the field to keep this treasured life style. Ike Davis and Lucas Duda were failed prospects before they were even 25-years old. Ruben Tejada was constantly pushed a level higher than his comfort zone. Murphy and Thole have failed at the big league level and been deemed spare parts already in their young career.

You think last place predictions mean anything to these guys? You think a tough road trip to Philly, Atlanta and Washington is going to scare them? You think they actually need Jose Reyes’ “energy” to be successful?

Two wins to start the season doesn’t change the projections. In all likelihood this is a second-division club that will win about 75 games. That doesn’t mean they are headed in the wrong direction. That doesn’t mean they can’t surprise a cynical fan base. All the garbage you have thrown at them is nothing compared to the journey to get here. Especially in an organization that was once run during their tenure by the tyrannical Tony Bernazard.

The numbers crunchers see value when they note that 7 of 8 positional players are homegrown.

I see perseverance and promise. I see guys the fans will give a few chances to succeed before they deem them a failure. I see hunger and the future. I see a group the loyal Citi denizens will grow to like, even if they are nothing more than a .500 club, at best, this season.

That is probably the biggest takeaway from opening weekend at Citi Field.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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