Saturday, June 22, 2024

Trapped in the Drive-Thru


Evidently we have left the 'Grimace era' of 2024 Mets baseball.

Look, the Grimace thing was great because it revitalized a fanbase that had grown despondent after like 2 months. Mets fans should have hope for longer than that. But it was looking really bad for a while, and with next to no pitching, a lot of hitters not doing anything, and the culling of fan-favorite Tomas Nido [a friend of mine from college was especially devastated by this one], many Mets fans had already given up and begun the wait for the Jets to embarrass them further.

But all it took was for Grimace to throw out the first pitch at a Mets game and suddenly, the fire under this team had been lit.

There's conflicting reports as to what exactly happened, people are also saying there was a team meeting where things got really heated. There was a celebration Lindor was doing early on in the post-meeting era that involved looking at the dugout and miming repeated slaps, so people theorized that Mendoza said something like 'if you people don't start playing well, I'm going to slap all of you upside the face'. Whatever it is, people who were struggling earlier on, like Brandon Nimmo, Pete Alonso and Harrison Bader, started heating up and giving this lineup some definite oomph. Alonso and Nimmo both have 42 RBIs, Alonso has 16 homers, Mark Vientos has an .856 OPS and is looking like the answer at third, and Jose Iglesias is somehow batting .438 since being called up. Starling Marte's also having a great season at the plate, even if he's nowhere near as good defensively as he used to be. 

The big piece of the last few weeks of Mets upticking is J.D. Martinez, whose late 2024 development worried fans. But he's finally hit his stride, and he's hitting .287 with 31 RBIs and 9 homers in 48 games. This isn't quite peak J.D., but he's still an extremely good power hitter, and is the exact kind of consistent piece the Mets need, especially if McNeil isn't gonna cut it. Also important, Francisco Alvarez has been back, and he's been hitting .271 with 15 RBIs. Somehow the Mets are finding a working model going forward, and it involves Alvarez, Vientos, and, surprisingly, Tylor Megill and David Peterson.

And then, after a 7-game streak, the Rangers finally got tired of getting the snot beat out of them, and gave the Mets their first loss off the Grimace era. The Cubs handed them another one today. So the positive vibes may have been temporary, and it may not be a 'flick of a switch' thing that makes this team wholly amazing. But I see a lot more working on this team than I did before, and I think even in losses you're still seeing more things they'll be able to keep using moving forward. Plus, Lindor's finally feeling like a hero this year, and that always helps.

The Mets finally have something to fight for this season. Here's hoping they won't need an appearance from the Hamburglar to start winning again.

[I was gonna say 'Mayor McCheese' and then I realized Eric Adams isn't too far off...]

Coming Tomorrow- Anthony Rendon has become the go-to trope of 'guy who always gets injured and seems to want to get injured'. This guy is the opposite. 

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