The Glen Allen Mets have won the National League East Division Crown! The race has been tight the entire season, but after a three game sweep of the Heat in Racine the team brought out the champagne. Bench coach Mike Stanley remembered last year’s celebration, “… but it could have been them celebrating the title if they had won the series. Our players knew what was on the line and merely dug in and did it. There have been other games where our energy was down and we wound up loosing, but not this weekend. Last year as a player was great, so my perspective has changed now as a coach. Yes, a division title is great, but now the hard work begins! We have a rematch with the Ocelots as our first playoff series. Last year we took Ocala the eventual World Series Champions to the seventh game and they won it in extra inning.” His voice dropped off with a sigh.
Veteran pitchers Steve Trachsel and Eric Milton will never forget that series. Milton commented, “Ocala is a strong team with Sammy (Sosa), Green, Jeter And Alfonso. I can’t make a mistake pitching to those guys.” Trachsel interrupted, …” and their pitching is top notch starting with Vazquez, Oswalt and ending with Remlinger and Troy (Percival).”
Pitching Coach Jimmy Key has been working on possible rotations, “ two games there, then travel home for three and hopefully back to Ocala like last year, but let’s change that final score to 7-6 Mets. As Eric said mistakes will be the key so we can not get complacent.”
Hitting coach Eddie Kranepool smiled, ”This year we have Albert (Pujols) as a rookie of the year candidate. At 21 this kid does not know what intimidation means. When I was that age my knees would be knocking in the outfield. He works hard in the (batting) cage and just loves to hit. Sometimes I have to tell him to give someone else a chance for BP. He never complains about the position that he plays as long as he is in the lineup. This year he started at first and third base, left field and right field. He does not have but average speed, so the infield may be his final position long term, but for now he is a manager’s dream, playing any of the four corners while leading the team in almost every offensive category.
Manager Clark was obviously pleased with another divisions title and questioned the reporters, “Do you guys recall that in spring training I told you our focus was for the division crown and then go on from there. We are at stage two looking up to the challenge against the champions from Ocala. Boy, does this look like David VS. Goliath! Now if only I could find my slingshot. Looking at the statistics for the season, they have better pitching, hitting, power and defense, but that was for the marathon. The playoffs seem like a sprint and you know anything can happen. We were so close last year, but … heck we lost to the World Series Champions and they will have to get by us again for a chance to repeat.”
“We finished at 81-81 so we have room for improvement next year. I have already acquired Chris Gomez and looking to make other deals and sign free agents. Sox of our seven Amateurs gained minor league experience and Ramon Vazquez may have a chance to be in the infield opening day. Barry Zito will anchor the staff with Steve Trachsel and RFA Milton and Ritchie if they desire to remain in Glen Allen. So another starter and to rebuild the bullpen since everybody but Wickman will be UFA. Albert will continue where he left off with a position to be determined after we get another bat in the lineup, but with Cal Ripken retiring it may be third base. Right now I must focus on a plan to beat the Ocelots. Anybody have a nice smooth river rock because I just found my sling shot.”