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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.
It was only a matter of time…and not long…before someone pulled out the “card” with regard to Marcus Stroman’s departure from the New York Mets.
Bias of any kind - race, religion, gender, etc. - is unacceptable in any realm, I despise any form of prejudice, bigotry, bias toward anyone or any group because they are deemed to be “different” or any reason for that matter.
In today’s times, people are so concerned with being politically correct, that they often over-compensate so as NOT to appear biased, when, at times, they are actually tipping the scales of bias in the other direction.
That being said...I am so damn sick and tired of people playing the “card,” whatever card it may be, when it is not justified, and there is no reality in what they are alleging. If there IS an issue with bias, prejudice, or bigotry by someone, then shame on them and they should be held accountable for that despicable behavior. But if someone is making a false claim for no other purpose than to further their own personal narrative and agenda, then, likewise, shame on them for being an opportunist and diluting the cause for righteousness.
I have two tickets for the Friday night game on September 10 for the next Subway Series between the Mets and the Yankees at Citifield. Mets-Yankees. I can’t go because it’s my birthday and I had an opportunity to head to Miami and spend my birthday in South Florida and attend a University of Miami Hurricanes football game. So I have tried to hand the tickets off to friends. Mets-Yankees. Not a single person will take these tickets. Not a one…nay…nay…nay.
And you wanna know why? Because the team is just plain awful. It’s not that they don’t have talented players…because they absolutely do. This team has a roster loaded with talent. But they just haven’t performed very well. It’s that simple. Then to add insult to injury…or rather…injury to insult… the team was, and has been, operating at less than full strength for the entire season.
Remember when you were a little kid and you would brag to your friends and claim that your father was better than someone else’s father? “My dad’s better than yours…” Can you imagine the talk, the banter, the jabs going on in the Toronto Blue Jays clubhouse and in the infield during meetings at the mound?
Starting behind Steven Matz, returning for the first time as an ex-Met to Citifield, was Vlad Guerrero, Jr. (son of Vlad Guerrero) at first base, Bo Bichette (son of Dante Bichette) at shortstop, and Cavan Biggio (son of Craig Biggio) at third base. Sandwiched in between them was poor Marcus Semien at second base. What could he possibly add to the conversation with those three?
The three dads were pretty damn good ballplayers, all of them with great career numbers, two of them – Guerrero and Biggio – in the Hall of Fame.
Decimated by injuries, the New York Mets seem like they are playing spring training games rather than the regular season – young players who have little to no experience, older players who have long since been in the Major Leagues and are hanging on for one last hurrah, uniform numbers that are more fitting for football tight ends and wide receivers.
Out for the foreseeable future are: first baseman Pete Alonso, second baseman Jeff McNeil, third baseman J.D. Davis, centerfielder Brandon Nimmo, right fielder Michael Conforto…those of the starting eight position players. Then there are centerfielder Kevin Pillar, centerfielder Albert Almora, Jr., centerfielder Johneshwy Fargas…that’s right…the second, third, fourth-string centerfielders are all down and out.
The pitchers? Well, we had a scare, a nightmare actually, with Jacob deGrom. But, for now, it appears he is okay after his return for his five-inning stint this week after 10 days on the IL. However, the bad news is that the triumphant return of Noah Syndergaard will have to wait as he has had a setback that will derail his comeback for quite some time. Taijuan Walker was such a wonderful surprise and then he had the rug pulled out from under him. Carlos Carrasco is nowhere close to returning…if that is what you would call it since he hasn’t pitched yet for the Mets. Seth Lugo is still a ways away and then there is another missing former Yankee, Dellin Betances.
The Mets have been covering things up with a patchwork quilt.
Every true baseball fan is crying inside. No opening day. And it doesn’t look like it will take place anytime soon. Perhaps that will cushion yet another crushing blow for the Mets, with Noah Syndergaard needing Tommy John surgery. You have to wonder if the Mets hierarchy is feeling any sense of embarrassment now, after letting Zack Wheeler sign with a division rival because they believed that they had a healthy Syndergaard for two more years of team control at a great price. I would think they would have to feel somewhat embarrassed by the way things have gone recently. I don't know...but I think it is getting a bit embarrassing.
Anyone who knows me is fully aware that my two favorite baseball teams, my two obsessions really, are the University of Miami Hurricanes and the New York Mets. With no baseball to watch, and my mind wandering, I began to think about how the two are connected, in a number of ways, in ways that all lead to some sort of embarrassment.
Fifty years ago today is when it happened. Movies have immortalized it. George Burns talked about it as one of his miracles in “Oh, God!” Dennis Quaid communicates with his son by talking about the seemingly miraculous occurrences during the ’69 World Series in “Frequency.” Cleon Jones going to one knee is shown multiple times in “Men in Black 3.” The sitcom “Everybody Loves Raymond” had a number of “69 Mets as guests on an episode when Tug McGraw, in typical “Tug McGraw” fashion tells Ray Romano “Take a hike Barone!”
October 16, 1969 seems like so long ago but it also feels like it just happened.
The Yankees have clinched the division title and have eclipsed the 100-win mark. Good for them. Congratulations. What they have done is amazing this season considering everything they have had to endure. They have survived serious, long-term injuries to key personnel. And regardless of who went down, there was someone to step in.
General Manager Brian Cashman has really done a fantastic job of keeping the team’s resources at maximum capacity, making some great moves to acquire players who played vital roles and made an impact. And with a mere 10 days to go in this season, you have to look at the Mets and wonder why this team couldn’t do the same.
Going into the last 10 games, the last seven of them at home, the Mets still have a chance to capture a wild card berth. They are not out of it. Not mathematically. But common sense dictates that the Mets can’t complete the comeback from an absolutely dreadful first half of the season and finish it off with a playoff spot of their own. And why do I think that? Because for one thing, the very asset that the Mets have that the Yankees DON’T have, is a starting pitching staff, and that staff has been good, sometimes great, but for the most part, inconsistent. And when you dig yourself the kind of hole the Mets dug themselves the first half of the season, you leave yourself no room for error.