The New York Mets can't escape the drama or at least the straw that stirs it. This past weekend was rough enough getting beaten so badly by the Atlanta Braves. Add in Pete Alonso being called toxic with no real merit or proof. Sprinkl in the latest Justin Verlander claim of him being a "diva.” We have a team headlining the back pages for behavior behind the scenes and not the results on it.
Mike Puma of the NY Post was undefeated this weekend as he dove deeply into the team's chemistry and any potential thoughts members of the roster had about it. He got a variety of answers. Francisco Lindor speculated there wasn't a moment early on to bring them together like last season with a few brawls. Others like Brandon Nimmo didn't admit to any issues within the locker room. Some of this could be a matter of perspective. What one sees toxic, another may view as normal. Tough love or busting someone’s chops can be interpreted differently.
We may not know all or any of the truth. One thing we can admit to: bad chemistry didn't create the losing. Losing just piled on top of an already extinguished team.
The NY Mets aren’t scarred like that because they don’t get along, they just underperformed as individuals
What makes good chemistry in a locker room anyway? Apparently being former teammates doesn't matter. As Puma shared, Verlander and Max Scherzer weren't on the best of terms dating back to their days with the Detroit Tigers. They both tried to make it work. And while Scherzer may have had some things to say about Verlander according to the anonymous source Puma got some juicy information from, it's not what led to the team's downfall.
From 2019-2022, there were regular positive stories about players supporting each other. The vibe felt good. Dominic Smith became Pete Alonso's biggest cheerleader. The 2021 bench bonded and picked up the team constantly throughout the year. Chris Bassitt, as Puma acknowledged, seemed to really take a liking to showing the younger pitchers what he knew.
Negativity following the NY Mets is nothing new
Much more revealing from Puma's story are the comments Verlander made about the Mets' analytics department. Maybe there was a nicer way for him to present how he felt. It sounds like Verlander rubbed some people the wrong way ealy on, but even if he did, his slow start was much more vital to the cave-in the Mets experienced.
Constant negative reactions by former players doesn't help. This year we've heard J.D. Davis and more recently James McCann say they felt like they weren't given a fair chance with the team. Only Davis has some justification for the comments although even he struggled to win the DH role last year. Enter the nightmare, Darin Ruf. Zack Wheeler and Marcus Stroman have had things to say as well upon departing. Noah Syndergaard couldn’t wait to troll the Mets.
Ironically, Verlander has spoken glowingly about the team since leaving. Preemptive damage control? A reaction to differentiate himself from Scherzer who drew negative reactions from the fans? It was a smart move on his part regardless of how genuine it was.
This has been a weird year in every way for the Mets. They avoided the drama until recently. Many fans were still believing up until they sold at the trade deadline. There was no early season ratcoon incident to suggest anything was wrong between players although they’ve felt less close compared to last year.
Like any workplace, some people will get along and others won't. Last year's Mets probably just had spectacular chemistry to the point where they were even able to uplift Eduardo Escobar throughout his nearly year-long slump. This season, with everyone struggling, it's much tougher. How do you call out a teammate when your own performance is subpar? And if you're the only voice speaking up, it could come across like you're a diva.
The Real Worst Team Money Could Ever Buy should air the dirty laundry. Who gets to write the foreword?