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Mets could benefit from playing with an edge in 2019

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 17: Jeff McNeil #68 of the New York Mets high fives Michael Conforto #30 after Conforto hit a three run home run in the top of the ninth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on September 17, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Mets defeated the Phillies 9-4. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 17: Jeff McNeil #68 of the New York Mets high fives Michael Conforto #30 after Conforto hit a three run home run in the top of the ninth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on September 17, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Mets defeated the Phillies 9-4. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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The New York Mets could benefit from playing with a more intimidating edge in 2019. Can they strike some fear into the hearts of their enemies?

What’s missing from the New York Mets that they had back in the 1980s? Other than illegal substances measured by the ounce, it’s the nastiness and edge from an overall excellent decade of Mets baseball.

The 1980s were a wilder time. In each of the four major sports, soft-core violence was prevalent. The Cincinnati Reds, Detroit Pistons, Chicago Bears, and everyone in the NHL developed a reputation of beating up on their opponents with force. The modern Mets and many baseball teams for that matter lack this element.

As fun as the animal in me would love to see Mets pitchers summon their inner Bob Gibson and throw at guys more frequently to knock them off the plate, it’s not the way the game is played these days. Noah Syndergaard’s ballsy gesture toward Alcides Escobar in the 2015 World Series was the closest thing to nastiness we’ve seen out of this team.

By historic standards, it was quite tame.

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Nasty doesn’t look good on this current roster. They’re a team featuring a humble ace and notable good guys Wilmer Flores and Brandon Nimmo. Nobody on this roster would pull a Chase Utley move nor should they. It’s not in them to play dirty.

However, it would be great to see the Mets play with a greater edge. We need to see a tougher team with outspoken players. Throughout 2018, from the manager down the 25th man, the team often appeared soft.

For as much grit as Jacob deGrom has, he’s not threatening in the way other pitchers are. Sure, he’ll get you out and embarrass your batting average. But I don’t think anyone is deathly afraid to face him.

Syndergaard is a little different. His presence on the mound is far more intimidating. Considering he was a lot more hittable in 2018, perhaps he’s not as scary as he used to be. His powers, as some believed, are only human.

Baseball is played much differently in 2018 and maybe it makes me seem like a bit of a blowhard to think the Mets need some nastiness on their sleeves. When was the last time we saw a benches-clearing brawl? The incident between Asdrubal Cabrera and Josh Harrison in 2018 hardly registers on the fight scale. Elementary school ballerinas throw better haymakers.

The Mets shouldn’t become a team of punks going around plunking guys, sliding cleat up, or looking for a fight. In the words of Cleveland Brown, “That’s nasty.”

There’s a fine line between dirty play and being rough around the edges. Recent successful teams like the dirty, bearded Boston Red Sox of 2004 are an example of 25 men you could root for, but would never let go anywhere near your daughter. More recently, the term “scrappy” may be appropriate for World Series winners.

Maybe more than anything, the Mets need a stronger personality. It doesn’t need to be made up of the kind of machismo Matt Harvey sometimes flaunted in an arrogant way.

The Mets can win as the nice guys. Although, they could have an easier road if they become more than that.

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Talent can get a team far. A tough, unforgiving attitude can put them over the top.

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