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A year ago the New York Mets and the New York Yankees were both in first place. Today, as we are about to enter the month of September and the stretch run…they are both in last. Should fans really have expected anything different?
Did Steve Cohen REALLY sell the Mets fans a false bill of goods as many fans are saying? Of course not.
The fact is that Steve Cohen has the money to give it the best shot even knowing that the odds are less than likely to come out a winner. He is a good businessman but he is also a Mets fan first.
What is happening with the 2023 New York Mets? This is just a BAD team.
The difference between 1973 and 2023?
The 1973 team actually WAS a good team. The team was hit with injuries to key players who would be out for significant time including Cleon Jones, Bud Harrelson, and Jerry Grote.
And the team floundered. The low point of the season was actually on August 14 following a loss that put them 13 games under the .500 mark at 52-65 and they were 8 ½ games behind.
New York Mets fans should be careful what they wish for.
Sign that guy! Re-sign this guy! You just never know. The decline of Christian Yelich, Cody Bellinger, and Javy Baez…should be enough proof as to why long-term commitments are a huge risk.
Not too long ago Yelich, Bellinger, and Baez were three of the hottest commodities in Major League Baseball.
Spring is in full swing as we made our first trip to Citifield for the home opener of the 2023 baseball season where New York-Presbyterian beat ADT by a score of 9-3, thanks to a second consecutive solid pitching performance by starter Tylor Megill and home runs by Starling Marte, Francisco Lindor, and Pete Alonso.
Confused? I’m sorry. Perhaps if I said Chico’s Bail Bonds?
The New York Mets top prospects, while given a chance at the Major League level in 2022, will all begin 2023 down on the farm…well…not farm…Syracuse. Francisco Alvarez, Mark Vientos, and Brett Baty, have all been optioned, as was Ronny Mauricio, who has yet to make his MLB debut.
And this is where the difference is between the Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets. A year ago, while the Mets were riding high, sitting atop the NL East, the Braves were reloading. During the 2022 season, the Braves promoted Michael Harris, Vaughn Grissom, Bryce Elder, Dylan Lee, and Spencer Strider, all of whom performed well enough to make everyone forget that Ronald Acuna, Jr. was out for an extended period of time.
The Mets, on the other hand, brought up Baty, Vientos, and Alvarez and none of them showed that they actually belonged. And now, while the Braves are readying themselves with their young talent, the Mets young talent is elsewhere.
Ya know…Jeurys Familia wasn’t exactly the Mets first choice. Nope, he wasn’t. Actually, the Mets were counting on some guy named Jenrry Mejia. Where did THAT come from? Well…with so many so-called experts counting the Mets out because Edwin Diaz is out for the year, the name Mejia should serve as a reminder.
After being groomed as a starter, Mejia had a somewhat breakout season in 2014 coming out of the pen. He made 63 appearances and pitched to a 6-6 record with an ERA of 3.65 and picked up seven saves. Mejia impressed by averaging 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings.
Mejia was primed to be the closer for the 2015 season. But, guess what? On Opening Day…OPENING DAY…Mejia was warming up for a 9th inning save but came up lame before entering the game. He went on the 15-game DL with an elbow issue. But wait…there’s more. While on the DL, MLB announced it was suspending Mejia for 80 games for testing positive for a banned substance. The Mets replaced Mejia with Familia, who had been serving in a set-up role.
It was 50 years ago that would, in some ways, turn out to be a more amazing season than the season labeled “The Miracle Mets.” The difference is that the New York Mets were not expected to win, or do anything good, for that matter, in 1969. Because they never had before. But they WERE expected to win in 1973.
In the seasons after 1969, 1970 and 1971, the Mets were truly competitive, with consecutive 83-win, third-place finishes.
When I was the host of my first call-in radio talk show, I had a caller who said, “I think the rules in baseball are dumb.” And I asked, “What do you mean?” The caller responded, “Well, in baseball they say that if you have four balls you walk, right?” I said, “Yes.” The caller said, “Well that is dumb. How can anybody walk with four balls?”
Regardless that that caller was a crank caller…and he was just trying to get me off my game…which he did as I was unable to maintain my composure for some time afterwards…all these years later…he would be right. The rules have become somewhat odd, to the point where it is hard to recognize the national pastime.
The New York Mets spent all but a few days of the 2022 season in first place. The spending of owner Steve Cohen, the dealings of general manager Billy Eppler, and the infusion of a new thought process and back to "old school" baseball by manager Buck Showalter proved the recipe for an emergence from the doldrums of what had come to be expected of the recent Mets.
The team has surpassed expectations. And, yet, the keyboard experts on social media are calling the team lifeless, choke artists, playing without heart, hyper-analyzing every move made, every instance of failure magnified. Rather than the post season excitement exhibited by Toronto Blue Jays fans, Seattle Mariners fans, San Diego Padres fans...Mets fans and media alike are ranting about the Mets as if they had just suffered a collapse of epic proportions.
You want to talk about collapse? Let's do that.
If anyone had said that the Mets and Yankees would both be in first place at the same time after Labor Day weekend, most fans not only would be shocked, but pleasantly surprised. Unfortunately while the two teams are still sitting at the top of their respective divisions, the double-digit leads have dwindled. While the Yankees seem to have squandered what appeared to be an insurmountable lead in the American League East, the Mets have seen a 10 ½ game lead in the National League totally slip away.
Social media hounds are exuding feelings of gloom and doom. The usually calm and collected Aaron Boone has publicly come unglued, obviously feeling the pressures of having to maintain the Yankee prestige while vying for a championship. The fans and pundits don’t seem to care that the team is still in first place, even with a decimated roster whereby the only constant has been Aaron Judge.
Likewise, social media has been lighting up with harsh criticism of Buck Showalter and the Mets demise. In reality, Mets fans should be ecstatic that the team is in a pennant race at all. Just think about it…the Mets won 77 games in 2021. They have already won 10 games more than that with 24 games to go. They are on pace to win 103 games. Heck, if they only go 13-11 the rest of the way, they will still win 100 games for only the third time in history. The other two times? They won 100 in 1969 and 108 in 1986. The only two World Series Championships in team history.
I once wrote a paper in high school titled “What’s Wrong with the Mets?” My 11th grade English teacher, Mrs. Baumann, was not happy about it, but she gave me a pass and permitted me to write about a subject that was apparently so important to me.
What I remember most about that project was reading everything I could get my hands on about the Mets. In those days, it was books and newspaper clippings. The books were great and I ended up with a nice little collection after it was all over. For the newspaper clippings, I had to have my mom drive me to the local daily newspaper – The News Tribune in Woodbridge, NJ – so that I could look at microfilm.
There was so much to look through and I was quickly scanning past most of the old papers, watching it fly past on the big screens in front of me. What I didn’t realize was that my mother also had her eyes fixated on the screens and, apparently, it got her dizzy because I suddenly heard a loud THUD from behind me. I turned to see two big guys tending to her, helping her to her feet.
I don’t why that story always makes me laugh. But what I learned over the years about my lovable Mets, was not really funny at all.
And if you are wondering what is actually WRONG with the New York Mets, you have to look a lot further than Michael Conforto having a horrible season, than Edwin Diaz not living up to expectations, than Jacob deGrom becoming a fragile commodity, and a rookie manager seemingly in way over his head. That is a reason for a bad season…a bad record. It is not even scratching the surface of what is so very wrong with this organization.
Fans love to scream about spending money and focus on that. Heck, it ain't about that. It is so much more. Because everything they do is just not normal.
Two men who are loved by New York Mets fans, enjoyed similar successes, and suffered similar frustrations. But each, eventually, received the respect and adoration that they so very much deserved.
Ralph Kiner and Gil Hodges crossed paths many times on the ballfields of Ebbetts Field in Brooklyn and Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, as teammates on the National League All Star team, and then both playing significant roles in New York Mets lore.