(Stage Direction: The following paragraph can be read in an Andy Rooney type voice) I wanted to write a more positive sounding title, but how is it that “going south” can mean things are going badly while “going north” never really caught on to mean things are going well? We say things are “looking up” or “looking down” but somehow “going north” never really made it as a counterpoint to “going south.” In fact, we negatively use north to mean we’re getting older (“Sign that guy? He’s north of 30!) or heavier (“He’s put on some weight…I bet he’s north of 200.”). Then again, who am I to judge directions- I don’t even own a compass.
(Stage Direction: Resume our real voices) Following their successful 7-2 homestand, the Mets headed west to California on Wednesday night to play eight games in eight days in San Diego and Los Angeles with a stopover for three games in the nation’s heartland (aka Denver, Colorado) before returning to Citi Field on May 17. Trepidation seems to follow west coast trips; perhaps, it’s the going to bed not knowing how the team fared (“Go to bed…you have work tomorrow.”). It’s a challenge to excel cross-country. In fact, after flying west on Wednesday and opening a four game series with the Padres without the benefit of a good night’s sleep or an off-day, the Mets’ bats slumbered through the first eight innings on May 5 before rousing to score three runs in the ninth inning in a 5-3 loss.
However, if they can meet the challenge and have a successful west coast swing, it can give the team an early season boost. Last season, after being swept by the Cubs for the second time in two months, speculation about Terry Collins job status traveled with the struggling Mets to Los Angeles and San Francisco but the Mets surprised the Dodgers and Giants with four wins in six games and saved their season. A decade ago, six wins in seven games in June 2006 in Los Angeles and Phoenix put the Mets on the express track to the Eastern Division championship.
On the other hand, a 2-9 western trip in 2010 under Collins’ predecessor Jerry Manuel staggered the second half hopes of the Mets and ultimately lead to the manager’s dismissal and the Terry Collins era.