NEW YORK, NY – We interrupt this Rangers playoff run to bring you a special announcement: When it comes to Big Apple Baseball, the 2022 Mets are now King. If you listen closely, you can almost hear New York Yankees fans getting their pinstriped knickers in a twist. I’m sorry Bomber boys and girls, but it’s true. The Yankees may be tied for the best record in baseball, but the Metropolitans are a far more compelling and fun story. Here’s why.
New York Loves an Underdog. It’s no secret that the Mets enjoy far-distant second dog status to the Yankees when it comes to NYC baseball. It’s rare but, every 20 years or so, the Mets pull themselves out of the sewer like a bunch of Flushing CHUDS and reclaim the city. It happened in the mid-’80s with those lovable drugged-out psychos (plus Mookie and Gary Carter) and it’s happening now. The Yanks are expected to contend for a championship every year and the Mets are expected to implode in spectacular fashion. And, when that implosion DOESN’T happen? New Yorkers take notice. That’s what’s happening right now.
Buck Showalter. Just as it is with their lengthy contention droughts, the Mets also are known for going long stretches between competent managers. For every Gil Hodges, there are four or five Jerry Manuels or Art Howes. Say what you want about Buck Showalter, he actually knows the game and how to manage, and he’s also sorta likable. You need look no further than crosstown to see what an absolute dud of a skipper looks like. How bad is Aaron Boone? I one day fully expect him to be managing the Mets. But, for now, The Magic is Buck! (I’m trademarking that for a t-shirt, so don’t get any funny ideas.)
Responding to Adversity. Last week my fellow Meet The Matts drone, Buddy Diaz, made a point of mentioning that the Yankees are dealing with a bunch of injuries. While he may be technically right, they are nothing compared to the double-barreled disaster that was/is Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer being out for the Mets. Add third starter Tylor Megill (who filled in admirably) to the list and it’s nothing short of amazin’ that Mets have not just held the fort, but built a big lead in the NL East. How can you not root for a team that has a “next man up” mentality… and it actually works? While no one expects the team to keep playing at their current clip without their top 2 starters, it’s a nice change to see them staying in games with their offense.
They’re a Fun Team. As I alluded to earlier with Buck Showalter, this Mets team is pretty likable. From lumbering lovable lummox Pete Alonso (who’s having a MVP kinda season) to squirrelly Jeff McNeil (whose double-handedly bringing back the Felix Millán choke-up), they’re a fun and interesting assortment of individuals. Starling Marte has been a godsend, Luis Guillorme is rightly becoming a fan favorite, and Mark Canha—who reminds me of Beaker from The Muppets—is the type of smart, professional hitter that so many teams are lacking. Even two guys who have struggled with winning over the Mets faithful, Edwin Diaz and Francisco Lindor, are holding their own; the former with his improved play as a closer, and the latter by continuing to grind and slowly bring up his numbers. Meanwhile, over in the Bronx you’ve got Aaron Judge, who Yankee fans seem to love more than the Yankees do, and maybe Anthony Rizzo (???), as the faces of the franchise. Who else ya got? DJ LeMahieu, who always looks like he just ate a 10-pound bag of lemons? Giancarlo Stanton, who the Yanks would trade in a heartbeat if they could? Joey Gallo? Okay, I guess he’s fun. Josh Donaldson? Check please. Gerrit Cole? I’m just sayin’, there ain’t much to like there.
Okay, that’s all for today. Come back tomorrow for the very agreeable Buddy Diaz, who’s well-liked even though he’s an Eagles fan.