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Not even 24 hours after the final out of the final game of the 2021 New York Mets season, when the misery finally ended, manager Luis Rojas was cut loose…finally put out of his own misery. It is of little surprise, and even less consequence that Rojas didn’t survive this debacle of a season.
And, yes, it was a debacle. The team was brutal. Every player performed well below…WELL below…the expectations. Were the expectations unrealistic? Probably. Most of the expectations were for players who have had less than three years of providing evidence of their expected level of performance. So you have to wonder whether these players are actually CAPABLE of consistent high level performances year in and year out…or are these guys a team of “Super Joe” Charboneaus? Yeah…that’s right…you gotta go look that name up.
They were going to be the best rotation the Mets ever had. They were going to be the best rotation in Major League history. Flamethrowers…long, flowing hair…superhero nicknames…and now…not a single one is in the Mets starting rotation.
That’s right…with the announcement that Jacob deGrom has been placed on the Injured List with right side inflammation (that’s the current diagnosis), it means that the best rotation the Mets were ever going to have took the path of the last staff to garner that moniker – Generation K. The rotation of deGrom, Syndergaard, Wheeler, Matz, Harvey…has seemingly turned into Isringhausen, Pulsipher, Wilson, and Jones.
In fact, the next one of the recent five to start at CitiField? The Dark Knight returns to Gotham in the black and orange of the Baltimore Orioles. Harvey, of course, was the first one to be cast off in 2018, after 2 ½ seasons of an inability to recover from the devasting loss in the 2015 World Series. He had returned from Tommy John surgery to be effective during the 2015 season before pushing the limit of his innings allowance and then was never showing any resemblance of his former self from the onset of the 2016 season.
Okay…stop…it’s ONLY ONE GAME. There are 161 more games to go. But the very first game of the season gives some real insight into what is different…and what is so wrong with baseball today.
I absolutely love the game of baseball because of the thought process. You had to think. You had to position yourself in the field, at the plate, decide which pitch to throw and why. Bring on the computer age. Sure…Davey Johnson was using a computer in the 80’s. But he also went with his gut. Would a computer put a guy like Kevin Mitchell at shortstop? Gil Hodges employed the McCovey shift back in 1969. But if a shift was employed, I recall many times when somebody would simply lay down a bunt…get on base…take what the defense gives you. Whatever happened to all of that? It’s better than striking out, isn’t it?
Jacob deGrom is a true victim in all of this nonsense. He was the least heralded…he really wasn’t heralded at all…among those elite five of Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and him. In fact…he is the only one of the five left. Syndergaard will hopefully be back from surgery this season and the other three are successfully (for a while anyway) toiling elsewhere.
The ridiculous comments started before the final word even came in. The suspense was killing some, not all, but it was enough to have Twitter going wild especially when one reporter – Bob Nightengale – Tweeted that it was a done deal and the Mets were the benefactors and another reporter – Mark Feinsand – at virtually the same time Tweeted that it was NOT a done deal.
For me, personally, the suspense was more wrapped up in hoping that the Mets would not spend “stupid money” on a pitcher who, in reality, is not a frontline pitcher, not in line with a Jacob deGrom anyway. But to pay the guy almost double what deGrom is getting would be stupid. He ain’t that good and he is a bit nuts. But I’ll come back to that.
I am more amazed at the stupid comments about how the team is still operating in “same old, same old” mode and refusing to spend money. I feel like I have been down this road before…because I have.
In a season where the Mets are celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the 1969 Miracle Mets, management is actually asking the fans to think more in the line with the 1973 “Ya Gotta Believe” Mets. The problem is that the Mets of 2019 do not resemble either of those teams.
It’s so easy to point to the bullpen as the problem. However, the Mets bullpen is actually not in any more of a state of dysfunction than any other team this year, except for the Yankees. Every team is having bullpen problems. The horrible state of the bullpen is AN issue but not THE issue.
Although the 1973 team was handicapped by injuries to just about every key player on the team and was in last place in August, the reason there was hope for that team was that once the team was again at full strength, the pitching rich team was exceptionally strong up the middle with Jerry Grote behind the plate, Bud Harrelson at short, Felix Millan at second base, and Don Hahn in centerfield. This year’s team falls far short of being strong up the middle, important especially when you build your team around your starting pitching.
If I were Jacob deGrom, I would want to bust outta here on the first laundry truck. Why in the world would he want to stick around?
As a Mets fan, I do not want to see deGrom traded off. deGrom has become one of my favorite all-time athletes, ranking right up there with New York sports icons Derek Jeter, David Wright, Walt “Clyde” Frazier, Thurman Munson, and, of course, Tom Seaver. They were all special not only because of their performances, but because of the way they conducted themselves, the way they went about their business, they were winners both on and off the field. deGrom has earned his place alongside those icons. However, he may have also earned himself alongside of Seaver in the way his career goes…out of New York.
As a fan, I would not like to see a replay of the Midnight Massacre of June 15, 1977…the night that the obnoxiousness and arrogance of M. Donald Grant led to Seaver begging to get out of town at the 11th hour. Similarly, it could very well be the same obnoxiousness and arrogance, this time of Jeff Wilpon, that will lead to deGrom begging to get out of town.
Did anyone really think the Mets would go 161-1? So they finally lost a game to the Brewers but bounced right back to win the series in dramatic fashion thanks to, who else? Wilmer Flores and another walk off home run.
And in the midst of running off nine straight wins, they just happened to sweep a three-game series from the Nationals in their home ballpark in Washington last week. Now with the Nationals coming in to CitiField, it will be interesting to see if the Mets can keep the momentum going, or this train gets de-railed.