Do Not Ever Expect The Mets To Be Completely Normal
8:46 AM EDT on July 19, 2021
This has by no means been one of those Mets seasons. They've been in first place in the NL East since April, and although that is owed mostly to the weakness of their division rivals—the Mets are 48-42 with a plus-5 run differential—there's not too much to complain about. Matt Harvey isn't walking through that door. All of their star players' feet appear to be in working condition. There has yet to be a dildo-related clubhouse controversy. The 2021 Mets are just a decent baseball team. And yet, perhaps it is true that no Mets team, even a competent one like this season's version, can ever be truly clean of the franchise's inherent Metsiness.
In order to test this theory, we need look no further than yesterday's game between the Mets and the Pirates. The two teams split a four-game series before all-star break, and then started another three-game series immediately after the break. The Pirates are one of the very worst teams in the league, and so it was not a great look for the Mets when they dropped the first two games of the series. A three-game sweep at the hands of the accursed Pirates is not the way any team wants to begin the second half of the season, but Sunday's series finale was not even an inning old before it started to look like another Mets loss was on the way. And what a loss it would have been:
What we have here is Kevin Newman, hitting with the bases loaded and one out and the Pirates already leading 3-0, dribbling a ball down the third-base line that was then flipped toward the Pirates dugout by Mets starter Taijuan Walker. And then all of the Mets just sort of ... stood around and did nothing while all three Pirates who were on base came around to score, at which point Mets manager Luis Rojas came charging out of the dugout to get himself ejected from the game. After the game, Walker explained that he thought the ball was foul, and so he must have been trying to flick the ball out of play before it had a chance to roll back into fair territory. Oh, also, this was all happening shortly after it was announced that Jacob deGrom would be heading to the IL due to forearm tightness. The Mets!
But, also, how about those Mets! Would you believe that they didn't end up losing this game, which they trailed 6-0 after putting on an absolute slapdick display of baseball ineptitude in the first inning? Well, you better believe it, because the Mets clawed their way back into the game, and then in the top of the ninth inning Michael Conforto stepped to the plate and cracked a two-run dong that gave the Mets a 7-6 lead. It was a lead they would not surrender.
Let this be a lesson to Mets fans and neutral observers alike: The real spirit of the franchise is not inherently a hapless one. Mets baseball has been defined by plenty of goofs and gaffes and losses, yes, but plenty of strange and surprising successes have also been a part of that story. So it's good to know that even during a season like this one, where the Mets are just sort of chugging along as a boringly competent squad, they can still cook up a game like this from time to time. A true Metsing does not necessarily have to be a losing one, it just has to be weird as hell.