The Mets are finally putting all the noise aside. No big win streaks, they look and feel better, both as a team and individually…
The Mets still stare upward at the eight teams ahead of them before they can reach the playoffs as an NL Wild card team. Indecision still reigns in the front office with only nine days before the trade deadline. Yoenis Cespedes still operates on a rehab planet of his choosing. A 5-5 record over their last ten is nothing to write home about. But these Mets are putting aside the gloom and doom in favor of spirited play on the field. And that’s all that matters.
Who would have thought that Walker Lockett would become the featured image for a story on the “New” and spirited New York Mets? Walker Lockett tossed 58 pitches over five innings on the mound for the Mets against the San Francisco Giants on Saturday during an 11-4 win. He allowed one run on five hits while striking out three. Not a big deal or anything noticeable in the ordinary course of an arduous baseball season.
Except that what followed in the aftermath of Lockett’s first big-league win is a big deal. It was a display of boys being boys, seizing a moment of triumph, and a team coming together to have a bit of fun.
Beer, shaving cream, mayonnaise, and ketchup… maybe some baby powder too were all tossed into a laundry basket Lockett was made to sit in. After which, he was unceremoniously wheeled into the showers to bask in his victory. Teammates cheered him on. He loved it.
His teammates gave Pete Alonso the same treatment. But that was way back in April when the season was one of promise and hope. Before the sobering reality of a year gone wrong took hold. And before good-natured hazings like this one became an afterthought amid rapid-fire back-page fodder that set the season ablaze.
Screw It All Say These Mets
Screw it all these Mets are saying. You see it in Mickey Callaway too. His devil may care – if I’m going down, Que sera sera. What will be, will be? Absolutely, and it’s contagious.
We see it in the play of Dominic Smith, who still needs to check the lineup card every day, relentlessly working hard to be a major league outfielder. We see it in Zack Wheeler, who is probably pushing the envelope a bit so he can make two starts before the trade deadline.
We see it in Jacob deGrom, who continues to labor for a team who can’t get him a win, despite repeating (of late) his Cy Young performance of last year. We see it in Pete Alonso, who despite being mired in a 3-30 slump, becomes Callaway’s most significant pain when given a day’s rest.
And most of all, we see it in a revitalized Mets bullpen. Still composed of the same names and faces, slowly but surely, they are becoming the team within the team so necessary in today’s game.
It’s almost as if Mickey Callaway has communicated, without ever saying it in words -” Look, guys, it is what it is. Drown out the noise. Go out there and have some fun. You might be surprised by the outcome”.
Brodie Van Wagenen will continue to make a lot of noise doing his thing, and the Wilpons will continue not to do their job. Same old hapless Mets. And before the season is over, there will be a couple or three moments more to make Mets fans shudder in despair.
But for the 25 professional major league ballplayers assembled in the Mets clubhouse, their world will take on a new order. Finally, they realize it’s not about them, it’s about us. What we do, not what they do – or don’t do.
You Can’t Touch It – Feel It
It’s just a feeling I get about the Mets team these days. It’s not a researched study filled with the latest analytics and backed up by quotes from players. Instead, they’re fun to watch, and in my book that makes all the difference, win or lose.
The pressure put on this team should never have been there in the first place. It was something concocted by an egocentric general manager, who should have known his Mets were a better team taking the field in April, but also not quite good enough.
A 5-4 road trip that included three hard-fought extra-inning games with the Giants tells me one thing. The Mets players have taken their season back, and within that group stands Mickey Callaway.
While it has nothing to do with reaching the playoffs, it has everything to do with team-building and a winning culture – win, lose, or draw.