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Name: Jim MonaghanHeight: 5'8"Weight: 150
Prior to joining WDHA, Jim spent a number of years as part of the New York/New Jersey sports media corps covering the Mets, Yankees, Jets, Giants, Knicks, Nets, Devils and Rangers. Jim has over 25 years of experience coaching and playing baseball. He spent two years in baseball management with the Newark Bears. and coached the Don Bosco Prep freshman baseball team to back-to-back Bergen County championships for the only time in the school's history. He's also an instructor with Professional Baseball Instruction in Bergen County.
Back in April, I don't think there was anyone on the planet who looked at the New York Mets 2012 schedule and said, "Boy, I sure can't wait for that 4-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates in September." Sure, the Pirates had put together that nice run for a few weeks in 2011, to the point that Kim Mulligan and I dubbed them "our Pirates" on the Morning Jolt before the reality of the 162-game season set in. And coming out of spring training, the Mets had at least a few reasons to be optimistic. But beyond that?
As Major League Baseball comes out of the 2012 All Star break, the reality is that the Pirates have a 1-game lead in the National League Central Division and as winners of 8 of their last 10 games, they're baseball's hottest team. A.J. Burnett - still on the Yankees payroll - has 10 wins, or one less than his 2011 total when he was still in pinstripes. James McDonald is right behind him with 9 wins. And centerfielder Andrew McCutchen is one of the game's bright young stars. Manager Clint Hurdle, someone I consider to be one of the best managers in the game, has the entire organization believing in itself again.
Meanwhile in Queens, the Sons of Terry Collins head into the 2nd half of the season 6 games over .500 and not only within striking distance of both National League wild card playoff spots, but they're only 6 games behind the Washington Nationals for 1st place in the National League East. David Wright is coming off an appearance in the All Star game and appears to be enjoying himself again, R.A. Dickey and Johan Santana anchor an improved pitching staff, and even Ike Davis appears to be on the upswing. Most people predicted the Mets would be lucky to finish .500 this season but the reality is that manager Terry Collins has this team ready to play every night.
And that brings us back to September 24th. The Pirates and Mets will open up a 4-game series that night that could very well have playoff implications for both teams. Think about that for a minute - both the Pirates and the Mets in contention for post-season play. As both teams head toward the end-of-July trade deadline, they are most definitely in the "buy now" category.
Mark it down now - September 24-27 at Citi Field. Mets and Pirates.
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