Posted by Frank Gray at 8:00 AM
The New York Giants have made an improbable run toward the playoffs this season. When they got into the playoffs, they extended that momentum even further into a Super Bowl bid. It wasn't easy, though. They began the season picked by almost every expert to finish last or near to last in their division.
Another team (the Philadelphia Eagles) in their division had made a flurry of offseason moves, including signing the Giants biggest free agent Steve Smith, and grabbed the attention span of football fans everywhere.
Still, another team in their division (the Dallas Cowboys) who were the defending division winners the previous season were returning with a renewed focus and energy to make good on their previous success.
As for the Giants, themselves, they had lost key free agents and were wondering how and where the replacements would come from. There were questions of chemistry and an unsettling changing of the guard taking place throughout the organization. They spent money on role players as opposed to the big names.
Then, when they began to practice, that's when everything really turned for the worse. Their top cornerback Terrell Thomas went down with a season ending injury. That was followed by a string of several other injuries to the roster. The Giants were a team in despair; injured, mismatched and lacking motivation.
They only had two things going for them. One was a coach the players would run through a wall for in Tom Coughlin. Two, their long-time locker room leader, and face of the franchise, Eli Manning. Then something miraculous happened. They found their stride. The rest has brought them to where they are today, two weeks away from playing in their fifth Super Bowl.
You may be asking yourself "That's great for them but this is a Mets site so what does this has to do with the Mets?" The answer to that is very simple: with just weeks before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, the Mets are in a very similar place at this point of the offseason as the Giants were just before their season began.
Think about the staggering similarities. The Mets lost their key free agent. Everyone has spent the offseason pining over the departure of Jose Reyes. Whether it was the right move by the Mets or not will be determined by hindsight. For now, let's all agree that it has the potential to hurt them this year if no one steps up to fill the void.
Next, the Mets are picked to be last or next to last in the division for this upcoming season. Here's why. The Miami Marlins made a series of splashes (pardon the pun) in the offseason that have put them in the headlines and become the media darlings. One such move includes signing the Mets big free agent Jose Reyes.
Another team, the Philadelphia Phillies, are the defending division champions and have an equally strong team returning with a renewed focus and determination to make good on their previous success. That's not even mentioning the Washington Nationals or the Atlanta Braves offseason stories into the mix.
As for the Mets, themselves, they are a team entering the season replacing their roster losses with role players as opposed to big names. They are wondering where the production will come from to adequately replace the voids left behind.
They have a question of chemistry and an unsettling changing of the guard taking place within their clubhouse. There are questions of health across the board for this roster as well. In particular, Johan Santana and Ike Davis seem to have their names mentioned often in that discussion over the past few months. They are a team in despair; injured, mismatched and lacking motivation.
They only have two things keeping them afloat from last season. One is a manager the players would run through a wall for in Terry Collins (funny how he has the same initials as Tom Coughlin, isn't it?). Two, their long-time locker room leader and face of the franchise David Wright.
Much like the Giants, something magical could happen in the season for the Mets too. Everything fell into place for the underestimated and overlooked Giants team. The Mets are underestimated and overlooked too. Why can't they find their stride.
After all, the games are won on the field, not on paper. If they were the Giants would never be where they are right now and the Mets can draw motivation and solace from that fact. They have to play the games. They have to perform to their capabilities and see where it takes them.
If they leave it all out on the field, they will have made another New York miracle storied season by this time next year.
(Personal note: I write about the New York Giants full time @ Big Giants Boom)