Posted by Frank Gray at 11:00 AM
Every family has a member that is slightly odd. One that doesn't quite fit in. The Mets family is no different. From the day he first took the mound in a Mets uniform, Mike Pelfrey seemed a little odd. Teammates noticed it. Media members noticed it. Fans noticed it.
He seemed to have a love/hate relationship with those fans. He has been a player the fans have loved to hate; the perfect object to spew all of their fanhood frustrations upon. Over the past few years, fans have called radio shows to complain about every start, posted repeatedly on message boards of how much he "sucks" and booed mercilessly with every pitch.
He has been the focus of all our deepest venting. How strange is it, then, that when he went down to injury last week that those same fans and media members now refer to him as "irreplaceable"? Since the inevitable departure of Ollie Perez at the beginning of Spring Training last season, Mike Pelfrey has been the lone symbol to the fans of everything they don't like about this franchise.
Last season, they had the chance to trade him and avoid the pay raise he would be due this past offseason. Instead, they kept him and paid him the extra money to avoid arbitration. As a direct result, they have nothing to show for losing him to season ending surgery and a possible free agency looming when he recovers. Pelfrey may have thrown his last pitch as a New York Met.
That fact has sunken into the collective conscience of the fans and they are certainly taking the loss with sadness and grieving. With a career ERA of 4.36 and a 50-54 record, it's hard to imagine why. Has he had a good start to this season? Yes. Does that warrant a period of mourning by the Mets family? Not really.
The fact is he is the player that Mets fans rip on for being hit or miss but those same fans will never allow a fan of another team to speak ill of him. They think "he may be a black sheep in this family, but he's our black sheep!". They stand by him through thick and thin. That is what fans do.
Now that he is on the mend, they finally realize his value; he eats up innings. He's had four consecutive seasons with 184 or more innings pitched. Two of them for more than 200 innings pitched. Now that the oddball in the family is on his way to the hospital, we all stop to consider what role he played in this family. He was the one that was always there; rain or shine, blowout or close game.
Though he seemed to only be consistent through inconsistency, he was, in fact, there for his starts. Whether those starts were something left to be desired or not, is a different story. There in was where his trade value laid last season. Many fans were calling for his head on the trade block.
Now that he is injured and may never pitch for them again, it is evident that the fans had a soft spot in their hearts for him after all. He may have been the hand-licking, shrink-seeing square peg that was left chained up in the basement and let out occasionally, but dammit, he was OURS.
Let this be a lesson to us as fans. Let's appreciate these athletes while we have them on our team. You never know when we'll overpay for one, fail to trade them at the opportune time and see them go down to season ending injury never to pitch for us again.
As we mourn the season loss of Big Pelf, remember, it could be worse; we could sign Ollie again.