This weekend the New York Mets will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1969 championship team. That team, known as the "Miracle Mets," captured the hearts and minds of the Five Boroughs during a down period for that other New York franchise. On Thursday, the Mets held a ceremony in front of Citi Field renaming the street in front of the stadium. The new name, 41 Seaver Way, honors Tom Seaver, the most popular Met in history. The Hall of Famer, who's retired from public life due to dementia diagnosis, will also have a statue constructed in his honor.
However, a shadow's been cast over the nod to the past with the horrors of the present.
The current Mets went into Friday night's game against the Braves with a 37-45 record. They're separated by only five games from the last place Miami Marlins. Despite All Star seasons from Jeff McNeil and rookie Pete Alonso, the team's been the personification of mediocrity. But simply being mediocre isn't what the Mets do. Most mediocre teams are unremarkable and frustrating. Being so close to competitiveness can take it's toll on players and fans alike.
But the Mets can't be quietly mediocre because they're the Mets.
On Sunday, after Seth Lugo blew a game against the Cubs via a Javier Baez two-run homer, manager Mickey Callaway took his frustration out on Newsday reporter Tim Healey. When asked several times why he didn't bring closer Edwin Diaz into the game in the eighth inning, Callaway grew frustrated. When the postgame conference ended, Healey said to Callaway "see you tomorrow" to which Callaway called him a "m-----f-----." Pitcher Jason Vargas then threatened to "knock out" Healey and players had to separated him from the reporter.
The next day in Philadelphia, Callaway didn't apologize during a media scrum. Criticism rained down on the manager and he came out a second time to apologize. Vargas didn't say anything at all until Thursday and he was better off not talking.
“I don’t think all the information is really out there. I don’t think this is a time to get into that. But I think that anybody that knows me, anybody that has played with me, there’s never been a situation like that. So to think it happened out of the blue, it’s foolish . . . It’s over. Our organization made a statement. We put an end to it. But I think it’s pretty obvious all the info isn’t out there.”
Vargas then preceded to not provide any extra information.
On top of that, rumors swirled that Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen made in-game decisions for Callaway while at home. Van Wagenen denied the reports, but where there's smoke there's usually fire.
The Mets bullpen also blew five straight games this week capping it off with Diaz's atrocious performance on Thursday afternoon.
With a young core of Alonso, McNeil, Michael Conforto, Dominic Smith, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and veteran Jacob deGrom, the Mets should always be in the mix. But the Mets front office's half-measures and small-time deals have rendered the team a joke. The one time the team decides to take on a big contract, it's via trade for a mid-30s Robinson Cano. Manny Machado was right there for the taking this offseason. Craig Kimbrel was available as well. You didn't need to trade for a closer. Instead, you give up Justin Dunn and Jarred Kelenic: two young studs that the team could regret letting go. Let's hope that draft pick the team held onto by not signing Kimbrel is worth it.
Fred and Jeff Wilpon have bumbled stewardship of this franchise every since Fred bought out Nelson Doubleday in 2000. The 2006, 2015 and 2016 seasons not withstanding, the team operates in a way unbecoming of a "big market" squad. Whether it's a front office guy challenging players to fights, a general manager accusing a reporter of trying to elbow his way to a front office job or the owner talking trash about his own players in interviews, this franchise just can't do anything quietly. When they're good, when they're bad and when they're "meh," the Mets remain embarrassing to their fans.
The Wilpons should've been forced to sell the team a while ago, but it looks like they're here to stay. The fish rots from the head. As long as the Wilpons are in charge this will be the modus operandi. The players may change. The front office personnel may change. The owners are what keep this Keystone Cops charade moving along.
Not even the presence of Ron Swoboda, Cleon Jones and Buddy Harrelson this weekend can distract from that.
- I have to repeat, the Yankees having this great of a season without their main guys contributed as much as they should and injuries hitting the middle of the batting order is a testament to not only the players, but Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman. It's a joy to watch greatness at work.
- The Pittsburgh Pirates have joined the Chicago White Sox, the Washington Nationals and the Texas Rangers announcing they'll extend the netting at PNC Park.
- Speaking of netting, a recent feature in Deadspin should ring the alarm for every team extending netting before the season is over.
- Tommy La Stella going from being thrown into the scrap heap by the Cubs to All-Star level production with the Angels is a sight to behold.
- I'd like to see Mike Trout in a Home Run Derby one of these days, but what more does he have to prove? However, I still want him in there.
Writer. Reporter. New Yorker.