Are the Mets boring or is it just April?
It's been a strange start to the season for our favorite team. The New York Mets are 14-10 (that's good!), but are on a three-game losing streak after dropping the series opener to the Nats last night (that's bad!). Pete Alonso is on pace for 67 homers (amazing!), but Francisco Lindor is the only other Met with more than two (not great!). For every positive aspect of the team thus far, there always seems to be a "Yeah, but..."
If asked to use three letters to describe the season thus far, many in the fanbase wouldn't call on the typical LGM, as in "Let's go Mets." Instead, it's been a collective "Meh", as in one big yawn. Twitter user Rich MacLeod summed up the collective feeling last night:
There's something to this. The 2023 Mets rank in the middle of the pack in most offensive categories: 13th in runs, 18th in average, and 18th in homers. They rank second in the majors in walks, which, unless you're the world's biggest Moneyball fan, isn't going to get your pulse racing.
On the mound, the team is even more mundane. Jeremy Hefner's wounded pitching staff is held together with duct tape and dreams at the moment. Justin Verlander has yet to make his Mets debut. Max Scherzer was ineffective even before being suspended. Edwin Diaz and the heart-thumping beats of Narco may not be heard at all at Citi Field this year.
A year ago yesterday, the Mets shocked the Cardinals with an improbable final-out rally. Less than two weeks later, they pulled off one of the most incredible comebacks in franchise history, scoring seven runs in the 9th inning to beat the Phillies 8-7.
This year's Mets team hasn't yet had any comparable excitement.
Beating the A's in extra innings in front of approximately 26 fans doesn't quite match up. Even scoring 17 runs two days earlier was a slog, as it took 17 walks from the inept Oakland pitching staff to do it. The Mets' defense has been outstanding, but again, that's not going to get most people excited.
Comparing this season's team to last year's is tough. 2022 was the first season that really felt like Steve Cohen had his fingerprints on the franchise. After a mediocre 2021 campaign that ended Luis Rojas' time as manager, Buck Showalter came to Flushing and immediately made an impact, improving the team by 24 wins and making the playoffs.
2022 was exciting for many reasons. Max Scherzer brought his intensity and championship pedigree to town. The team got off to a scorching 15-7 start in April and spent most of the season in first place. They went 10-2 in games that went to extra innings and had seven walk-off wins. Francisco Lindor looked looked like the All-Star Mets fans knew he could be. Pete Alonso hit 40 bombs. Starling Marte became a new fan favorite. Diaz electrified as the best closer in baseball.
Last season marked the Mets' arrival as a serious contender, but it's always more difficult to follow up a successful debut. John Wick: Chapter 2 was good, but it wasn't as great as the original. The Matrix Reloaded felt like a letdown after the mind-blowing awesomeness of The Matrix. Why am I only using Keanu Reeves movies for comparison? I have no idea. Hopefully I won't need to make a Speed 2 reference about losing Jacob deGrom. But now I have an image in my head of Edwin Diaz returning to the mound in the thick of the September pennant race and saying, "Yeah, I'm thinking I'm back."
There are two important things for Mets fans to remember.
First, the season is a grind. It's impossible to be consistently exciting from April through October. Unlike, say, football, where every game feels like an event of the utmost importance because there just aren't that many of them to be played, baseball is about taking care of business night in and night out. I'm pleased that the team is 14-10 when so many things have gone wrong. Look at the Cardinals, a team used to contending. They're 9-15 and are already seven games back in the NL Central. Be glad the Mets are hanging tough.
Second, more exciting times are ahead. Justin Verlander should make his debut within the next two weeks. Max Scherzer will be back soon, too. Brett Baty and Francisco Alvarez are already on the team, and Ronny Mauricio and Mark Vientos may be right behind them. All four are going to be really good. The Mets haven't faced the hated Braves or Phillies yet. That always gets the blood pumping. One walk-off win and a water-soaked, jersey-torn Pete Alonso can change that "Meh" to "LFGM" overnight.
To a certain degree, last year spoiled a generation of Mets fans that have been used to uninspired baseball. Expectations have been raised, and now the fanbase demands excellence. In a league filled with soul-sucking teams like the A's, Rockies, and Royals, let's appreciate how good we have it. We have an owner willing to spare no expense, one of the best managers in the game, and a roster loaded with present and future stars. The old days of consistent ineptitude are gone. If that's boring, sign me up.