Mets Mood Swings in One Night
It took exactly eight innings for the 2021 baseball season to veer from glorious to horrendous.
This is the lesson for Mets fans: Don’t get too chipper.
We learned that in 1962 when the Mets loaded up with aging stars because, as Casey Stengel told us, he was expecting to make a run for the pennant.
Ha! Record of 40-120 that year. It’s in their DNA.
Two offspring and I were gloating, via smartphone messaging, in the early deGrom innings Monday evening. The Mets had missed the opening weekend because the Nationals had a Covid scare. Now Jacob deGrom was at his brilliant level, down in Philadelphia.
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NB: A special treat in this article is a comment from JimH – otherwise known as Jim Henneman, longtime sportswriter in Baltimore. Jim assesses the career starts by Jacob deGrom, with the eye of a journalist with respect for stats as well as the emotion of the game. Please see Comments below:
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Offspring 1 sent a snapshot off the tube, of deGrom throwing the ball past some hapless batter.
Offspring 1 soon noted: “deGrom batting 1.000.”
Offspring 3 added: “He was amped up.”
Offspring 1 replied: “Wow. We may have to watch the Mets all season.”
Not so fast. DeGrom threw 77 pitches in six scoreless innings and the three familiar TV broadcasters were at their best, attuned to his every pitch. But then there was a sighting of deGrom pulling on his warmup jacket and departing the dugout.
Foreboding in the universe. We know how these things end.
Before long, a collection of new culls and rejects was trooping out to the mound to collaborate on a 5-run eighth inning, with a defensive sub making a brutal error, and the Mets soon lost, 5-3, bringing us back to the defeatism from 1962 that is necessary to root for this team.
New owner. New superstar. New faces in the bullpen. But same old rage.
I’m sure there are fans of other teams out there -- in the only sport that plays every day, pandemic excepted -- who know instant disappointment. But Mets fans feel it is our birth curse.
Jacob DeGrom is probably the best pitcher in baseball right now. He has won only 70 games in his career because a collection of geniuses has decided that even the best pitchers must be coddled and protected.
In his short career, he has left a game 31 times with a lead that would be squandered. How does he not display the rage that bursts from Mets fans?
A former Met I know, emailing sometime in the middle of the night, added his professional reaction to deGrom’s quick hook:
“I know. I know. Protect the arm. Limit first start to 6 innings. We traded to get strong bullpen guys!
“But opening day loss. 77 pitches! Wasted effort again. 31 times to the guy!!
“Time for a little old school. Leave the guy in!!!????”
Now the question is: whom do we blame for this oh-so-Metsian loss?
Is it the fault of the analytics types who postulate that pitchers lose their edge the third time around the lineup?
Is it the fault of a novice manager who doesn’t want to be remembered as the genius who burned out the star pitcher on a windy opening night in Philly? (The same young manager who somehow kept Dom Smith from hitting even once on opening night?
Are the Mets suffering from a new ownership and a front office that has once again been assembled on the fly?
I’m still repelled by having watched the Tampa Bay manager yanking his best pitcher in the last game of the 2020 World Series because, apparently, that is the way the game is played these days.
Our little family web chain went all sour among us:
Offspring 1: “We were all in!!! And now this!!”
Parental Unit: “I hate this season.”
Offspring 3: “Winter’s back.”
I love this game. I hate this game. All on the same night.
4/6/2021 03:35:04 pm
My three sons were having the same conversation from 2-5AM local time while their tired and jaded father slept. Real fans bemoan their teams in the wee small hours. When the whole wide world is fast asleep.
4/7/2021 07:51:09 am
Mendel: well done, evoking the lyrics Sinatra delivered so well.
Mike from NW Queens
4/6/2021 08:55:21 pm
Thanks for the synopsis GV!
4/7/2021 07:53:47 am
Mike, you co-worker really knows how to ruin a morning.
4/6/2021 11:26:03 pm
“Wait ‘til next game,”
4/7/2021 07:58:57 am
Ed, it was a double steal...Nimmo broke for 2nd, and Villar came home. They did it to Realmuto....Fun to watch.
4/7/2021 01:12:15 pm
So as the season goes on, if deGrom is pitching as phenomenally as he did during that first game, would they pull him? Or will they let him go the entire way? I did say to offspring #1 that leaving his magnificent performance to the relievers was a heartache waiting to happen.
4/7/2021 05:09:52 pm
Di: I think he’d get a 7th inning next time.
4/7/2021 01:18:24 pm
George...as great as some of deGrom's numbers are there are others that suggest the current program isn't enough for him to be a truly great pitcher. In 184 starts in his career, he has three complete games and one shutout. As for the third time through the lineup syndrome, with the exception of the handful of games he left before the fifth inning, deGrom has NEVER not faced at least the top of the lineup three times -- only once failing to face 20 batters. It would seem the pitch count is what gets him every time -- except he's thrown over 118 pitches only once in his career, so he's rarely been truly "knocked out" of a game. Given that he averages 19.2 outs per game it would seem the ex-Met has a valid point that he should "stay in" a little longer.
4/7/2021 02:36:21 pm
Jim H. I respectfully disagree, but that’s what makes the world go round.
4/7/2021 04:07:44 pm
proud of my grandsons.sorry thet the family leggacy comes with such heartache.their great grandfather was a brooklyn dodgers fan
4/7/2021 04:18:20 pm
george-the tampa bay pitcher was on his way to having a gibson/koufax game and now no one knows his name.
4/7/2021 10:16:07 pm
Ahron: perfect point, I believe it is Snell...I'm thinking of Matt Snell, Jets' Super Bowl fullback, but I covered him in high school, so I know it's not Matt. Either way, he moved on. He should have pulled a Matt Harvey tantrum -- look what happened to him soon after.
4/8/2021 03:40:07 am
4/8/2021 10:52:21 am
george and gene-my father took me to the batting range on pennsylvania ave.when i was 9 years old.gil batted against the champs of the range and us kids got autographs.
4/8/2021 02:08:12 pm
Much to hate about Mets' opening night. But it produced this gem of a column. So, fair deal.
4/9/2021 04:28:34 am
The Baseball Gods listened and gave atonement. While I was getting my second Moderna shot, a miracle happened. I’m talking about the first insightful sentence penned in a NYT sports article since a guy named Vecsey retired: “ For the first crowd at Citi Field since the 2019 regular-season finale, the takeaway was not a new star’s magic moment, but an old game’s quirky charm.”. To make it all the sweeter, the umpire involved will henceforth be forever known as “Mea” Kulps!
4/9/2021 04:32:44 am
“Kulpa” - correction from Fat Thumb Savin
4/9/2021 04:41:24 am
Brian: And a new title for this post: Mets Mood Doesn't Swing in One Night
4/9/2021 03:42:44 pm
Brian: nice to see you and your thumb in this space.
Comments are closed.
From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.