The New York Mets spent 108 days, including off-days, in first place of the NL East. While that should normally bring tears to the eyes of the Flushing Faithful, it instead was filled with anxiety, pain, and, at times, a soul-crushing worry that God didn’t exist.
The New York Mets were in first place for exactly three months. And now, as they head into September, they are staring down the barrel of a season where everything could slip through their fingers.
But it’s not their fault entirely. The Mets have spent the majority of this season waiting for the next wave of help to arrive. In the early days of the season, worries about Francisco Lindor‘s production weighed heavily on the Mets.
“Don’t worry, it’s early he’ll turn around soon.”
Francisco Lindor, who has been out since the beginning of the second half, is hitting .228, with 8 home runs, 36 RBIs, and an OPS+ of 93. Not the kind of turn-around we had hoped for, right? But don’t worry. Michael Conforto, who has been playing incredible baseball over the last few seasons, can pick the slack. It is a contract year after all. Oh, he’s hitting .220, with 8 home runs, and is getting out-slugged by James McCann? Yikes.
On the bump, Jacob deGrom went from “must-see TV” to “10-Day DL”, going down with a multitude of complications from right side stiffness to forearm inflammation. All of these snags in deGroms’ season have kept him from pitching since July 7th, depriving us of what could have been the greatest season ever thrown by a pitcher.
Salt in the wound, but it gets worse.
But in his stead, the Mets had Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker, and that’s it. Injuries plagued the Mets rotation even before the season began. With Noah Syndergaard recovering from Tommy John and Carlos Carrasco going down in Spring Training, the Mets at least had reinforcements coming later in the season. But when both suffered setbacks, as well as the injury bug taking bites out of David Peterson, Joey Lucchesi, and Jordan Yamamoto, the Mets were forced to keep their rotation together with scotch tape and prayers.
Even when Conforto, Jeff McNeill, Brandon Nimmo, and Kevin Pillar were out with injuries, the Mets had names like Johneshwy Fargas, Tylor Megill, Jake Hager, Billy McKinney, Wilfredo Tovar, and Cameron Maybin holding down the fort. In fact, those were the days when it felt like magic was in the air in Queens. The Mets have been stuck in this perpetual cycle of hope and despair since April. The bad news is, it doesn’t seem to be slowing anytime soon. And that’s the biggest obstacle facing the Mets heading into the final month of the season.
They lack the confidence and to take hold of their own destiny.
In back-to-back-to-back-to-back series with the top-tier San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Mets looked like a middling AL Central team. They most certainly did not look like a team that could up-end either squad should they face off in the postseason. They looked scared, defeated, and searching for answers to these two West Coast Juggernauts. Frankly, it might just be time to take a long hard look in the locker room mirror. It’s time to decide whether or not this team has what it takes.
But that’s just it, isn’t it? Mets fans believe in this team. They know that this Mets roster is playing at 20% of its potential. That #OnPaper, this team shouldn’t be a handful of games back from the top spot in the NL East. So at what point do the Mets wake up and embrace the hopes and expectations the fans have for them?
The 2021 New York Mets have no faith in themselves and are surrounded by nothing by unbridled optimism. After a year spent without fans, it’s interesting that the Mets can’t hear the Flushing Faithful now that stands are full.
And even when they could hear the fans, it was a problem. The aftermath of Javy Baez’s #BooGate set the battle lines between the fans and the players. In their first game back after the comments and statements and apologies, SNY Gary Cohen opined about how far these Mets have fallen. They do not have a leader, they do not have the fans behind them, and they cannot take criticism that is entirely justified. Cohen pointed out that the majority of these Mets were so incredibly likable over the last two seasons, even earning the moniker of being the new kids in town, who are just here to have fun.
This team was everything the Yankees weren’t: WILD.
Now? That team is all but gone, and one that seems vaguely familiar stands in their place. This isn’t a team that was the best in the NL East, this was just the team who sucked the least. Perhaps, this team is just mad that we have all finally realized who they are. And that’s pretty damn sad.
And then the Marlins come to town and the Mets pull a rabbit out of a hat and erase a 4-run deficit in the ninth inning for the first time since 2007 and I don’t know what to think anymore.
“Turn those thumbs around” indeed, Gary.
The bipolar swings of Mets fandom are not for the faint of heart, but as we head into September, in a self-inflicted life or death situation regarding the playoffs, those mood swings are about to get violent. But there’s no other way we’d want it, right? To quote the recent Marvel series on Diseny+, “Do you think that what makes a Mets fan a Mets fan is that fact that we’re destined to lose?… No. We may lose. Sometimes painfully. But we don’t die. We survive.”
Buckle up, Queens! It’s “White Knuckles Every Night” Season!
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