The New York Mets are a terrible, terrible baseball team. After starting the 2018 season 11-1, the Mets have gone 20-44. If you are wondering 20-44 equates to a .3125 winning percentage. The Royals (.308) and Orioles (.299) are the only teams with worse winning percentages for this full season, but the Mets could easily drop below those two teams within the next day or two. Are the Mets as bad as those two teams? Absolutely.
If one has watched baseball for any considerable portion of his/her life, that person can tell pretty easily how good a team is. I have watched the Mets regularly since 1990, so I can vouch for the fact that this team is as awful as its record indicates. What are the main indicators that jump out at me in terms of the Mets being terrible?
1) Jason Vargas got hurt before Sunday’s start, and the Mets decided that their minor leagues are so barren that they were better off starting reliever Jerry Blevins. This required patching together 9 (actually 11) innings of bullpen innings from a bullpen with maybe 3 legitimate Major League relievers.
2) Jason Vargas has been so bad that the afore-mentioned bullpen option worked out better than a typical Vargas start. Speaking of which, please disregard this.
3) Continuing with the “speaking of which…”, Jose Reyes has a batting average of .175 and an OPS of .507 yet remains on this team.
4) Mickey Callaway has decided to bench prospect Amed Rosario for several games in a row so that Reyes can start. Seriously.
5) Since 2015, the Mets’ offense has dominated with Yoenis Cespedes in the lineup and been terrible with him out of the lineup. Cespedes has played only 37 games this year.
6) If the Yankees had kept Todd Frazier, he would be a bench player this year. On the Mets, he hits in the #2, #3, and #4 spots.
7) The first-place Atlanta Braves released both Adrian Gonzalez and Jose Bautista over the past year. Both of these people have had stretches of regular starts for the Mets.
8) Kevin Plawecki has hit cleanup.
9) Mickey Callaway said on Sunday that the Mets need to “sync up” the performance between their position players, starting pitchers, and bullpen. That is the baseball equivalent of Ben McAdoo’s “complementary football”. That ended up well.
10) Most importantly, Jacob deGrom has an ERA of 1.69, a WHIP of 1.01, 16 starts, and a whopping five wins.
What a disaster. For the second-consecutive season, the Mets enter summer completely out of the playoff race. Obviously, this is a major disappointment for a big-time Mets fan like myself. Summer is much better for a baseball fan when that fan is excited to watch his/her team every night. I am not excited to watch the train wreck in Flushing. Summer is much better when a fan can start to build excitement for a pennant race, when the fan can start to scoreboard-watch the team’s primary standings opponents, and when the fan can dream of thrilling October baseball. Summer is much better when the fan can enjoy the highs of important wins and agonize over important losses. I know it is weird for me to speak well of agony, but one does need to experience joy in order for him/her to fall into agony. Only a complete masochist agonizes every time a terrible team loses. Yes, some self-loathing Mets fans fall into this category, but thankfully I do not.
With all that said, there are three silver linings to rooting for a terrible team.
1) I can enjoy the wins, but I never feel the agony! Sure, I do not become too elated when a 31-45 Mets team wins a game, but I do feel at least a modicum of joy. On the flip side, I do not feel any negative emotion when the Mets lose. I felt negative emotion in April and May when the Mets descended from 11-1 to oblivion, but I am now far too deep into the learned-helplessness phase. I expect the Mets to lose every game. Plus, as I mentioned last year, I know that I am not going to loyally watch a team this bad once NFL season begins. I have no false aspirations of the Mets making their way toward a pennant race or (Good lord) playoff baseball. Therefore, I have nothing to lose right now as a fan. For example, I attended Sunday’s surprisingly exciting 8-7 Mets’ loss to the Dodgers (the Vargas/Blevins game). I was legitimately thrilled when Kevin Plawecki hit a game-tying three-run homer in the 8th inning. However, when Justin Turner hit a go-ahead Los Angeles homer in the 11th inning, I matter-of-factly felt like the game was over. I knew it would shortly be time for us to go home, but I was not upset. How could I be upset about a team losing its 23rd game in 29? It would be like being upset that Roadrunner evaded Wile E. Coyote yet again.
2) I have zero time commitment to the team. Again, it is disappointing not to have the thrill of a good baseball team to watch this summer. At the same time, this truth means that I do not feel bad when I have to miss a game. In 2015 and 2016, I was upset whenever I could not watch a game. This year could not be any different. Again, I know that I will lose touch with the team in September. Therefore, if I miss more games in July and August, who cares? It is also worth noting that my wife and I will be taking two honeymoons this summer – one in July and one in August. If the Mets were halfway decent, I would currently be going to great lengths to make sure I can watch as many Mets games as possible on those trips. Fortunately though, I am perfectly content to avoid going to those great lengths for this terrible Mets edition. Therefore, from the “You don’t want to be bad husband on your honeymoon” department, thank God the Mets are awful.
3) It is humorous. If the 2015 or 2016 Mets chose not to use any starting pitchers in a game, I would have been angry. When the 2018 Mets did it, I laughed. Honestly, when I read 9 of the 10 things listed above, I laugh. Only deGrom’s tough luck does not make me laugh. He is one of the best pitchers of his generation, but he is toiling on a terrible team. Everything else though makes me laugh. The Mets daily trot out a lineup that is worse than the Yankees’ AAA lineup. When something is this big a disaster, the only healthy thing one can do is laugh about it.
Photo via NY Post
Anyway, I know that it has been a difficult two seasons for Mets fans. I hope that all of you Mets fans out there can use these three silver linings to get through the 2018 Mets season as I have and will continue to do.