When it comes to baseball teams, the grittier the team the better. I can appreciate a team with filthy uniforms. A team that has no fear of any opposing team no matter who they are, what their history is or where they are from is always fun to watch.
You know the type of team I’m talking about. The Mets had a team like that once. It was in 1986. They were probably the most mettlesome team in their history. They were no nonsense. They played the game the way it was meant to be played.
You can make an argument about the 1973 team too. After all, the fight between Pete Rose and Bud Harrelson is probably one of the best fights this organization has ever had. It most definitely was the most famous.
All it took was a comment by Harrelson about how the Cincinnati Reds were hitting the baesball like him, which was not saying much since he was known for his defense and not offense. Rose did not appreciate the comment and made it known by sliding hard into Harrelson at second base.
You know the rest of the story. The fact of the matter is, it didn’t matter that Rose was bigger than him. It was pride. It was the attitude of, “If I go down, I’m going down swinging” that Harrelson had.
This is what I feel the team has been lacking the past few years. They’ve been playing like they belong on Fifth Avenue with a Central Park view. I don’t care if they are getting paid to afford that view. I want them to play as if they live in the South Bronx and have to scrape for what they can get.
You play the game like you are from the streets. You hustle. You show no fear. It is about survival of the fittest.
What was great about RA Dickey was his facial expressions when he went on that mound. You knew he was not there to play games. He was there to instill fear in batters.
I’m talking about going in hard. There is nothing wrong with taking out a player or two when trying to steal a base or get a run home. You force the opposing team to make mistakes. You show them you are fearless. It is mind over matter.
Sometimes playing mind games with the opposing team helps to win games. Force the outfielder to throw the ball home or at third. Put infielders in a position where they have to rush a throw and end up throwing the ball away altogether.
I’m not talking about doing something completely uncalled for like sliding with your spikes up. I’m talking about barreling through. Knock them down. You brush them off the plate. You give them a warning pitch. You show them this is your territory and they have to watch their step.
This game is about playing smart, but also with a chip on your shoulder. You go into games like you run it. You claim this city. You marked it. Now own it.
This team could use some Lenny Dykstra-type of attitude and play. Former Mets scouting director, Joe McIlvaine, described Nails as “a hockey player in a baseball uniform. He was very, very aggressive on the field”.
You leave it all out on the field. There is no halfway. You either go big or get out. This city is only big enough for the grittiest of players. It belongs to the blue collar workers. Without them, there is no city. So should it be with baseball. Without the New York Mets, there are no hard asses.
In my opinion, the addition of Collin Cowgill was the best this team could have gotten. He is everything that I have preached about. He is bold. He is tough. He is a Dykstra-type of player. He takes risks. It has been awhile since we have seen a player as aggressive as he is.
What makes it even better? It is infectious. The rest of the team is feeding off of him. You can see it in the past two games. They are hitting. They are running. They are becoming lion-hearted. This is what it is all about. This is what we have been craving, needing and now finally have.
When the 2012 season came to a close, so did the years of the white collar players. This isn’t a game of croquet. Welcome a new era. The era of fearlessness. It came with the addition of Cowgill and permanent promotion of Matt Harvey.