Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hot start, big finish? MLB schedule maker helps out

A popular sentiment this spring has been that Mets manager Jerry Manuel needs his team to start strong if he wants to keep his job.

I don't necessarily agree -- I think as long as the Mets are competitive and stay in the mix, Jerry will be fine -- but it looks as if fate (or whoever makes the MLB schedule) has, for once, decided to shine upon the Metropolitans.

Want that quick start? Well, the Mets play 23 games in April and 16 of them are at Citi Field. From April 13-28, the Mets play 16 games in as many days, and the final 10 are at home.

Buster Olney notes that the Mets play 19 straight games against 2009 contenders in late April/early May, so there are some tough games up front.

Looking for a strong finish? The schedule is doing everything in its power to prevent another collapse. (Either that, or make that collapse as painful as possible.) The Mets play 17 of 30 games in September and October at home, including 17 of their last 22. The final seven games of the season are at Citi Field, against the Brewers and the Nationals.

The five road games in that final stretch? Two at Florida and three at Philly. Call them "meaningful games in September" if you want.

In between, obviously, are mostly road games, but there's no road trip that looks too daunting.

Of course, with so many home games early on, if the Mets do stumble out of the gate, in front of their increasingly-edgy fans, it would ratchet up the pressure on Jerry and his crew. Here's hoping the home fans use those games to get the team going, rather than looking for an early excuse to boo.

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