As a Mets fan, we’re used to the idea that we’re usually not the best. Sure, I’ve only been alive for 21 years, but for most of that short time, the Mets have rarely been considered the best team in their division.
The Braves, before 2006, had won the division 11 straight years. In ‘06, the Mets won the division as the favored team.
Since then, due to signings and tradings, the Mets have been projected for the last few years to contened for the NL, or last year by many Sports Illustrated writers, to win the World Series.
But now, barring signings of Matt Holliday and John Lackey, among others, the Mets will roll into 2010 as underdogs. The experts will likely favor the defending NL champions Philadelphia Phillies, with Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels leading their rotation.
Playing second fiddle will be the Atlanta Braves, with a young, very talented pitching staff and a solid team.
After the Braves, the Marlins will probably slot in third in predictions. If they keep Josh Johnson (as I expect they will), they must be considered a viable threat to the others in the NL East, even with their miniscule payroll.
So where does that leave the Mets? Predictions will (hopefully) place them above the Washington Nationals, but still 4th out of 5 teams in the East.
That means the Mets will once again be underdogs. A team that has some semblance of talent, but will take some luck, some streaks and good coaching to steer their way to being a winner.
I like the Mets as underdogs. It tears away all the preconceived notions of winning. It may go so far to take pressure off the players, but that can never be fully evaluated. I like the team as loveable losers who I hope will surprise me.
Being the class of the division is fun sometimes, but I like my team to come out of nowhere, surprise everyone, while all along we fans knew they had it in them. It’s more fun, more exciting and more entertaining.
I want them to win, and so do you, but isn’t it better when they shock everyone else in the process? If teams want to take the Mets for granted, I hope that somehow, someway, the team responds and makes a statement.
Once again, the Mets are underdogs. And I like it that way.