I've never kept friends for very long.
Sometimes we fight. Most of the time we drift. Once I moved and didn't tell anyone I was leaving.
I also believe with all my heart in loyalty—either because of or in spite of everything else.
I'm loyal to family and to coworkers, to in-over-my-head academic programs (I still have nightmares about high school IB—International Baccalaureate—exams) and to TV shows (I stuck with Scandal, Pretty Little Liars, and post-Sorkin West Wing).
Above all, I've been loyal to the Mets, through the good times and the bad (I'm only 23, so it's been mostly bad). I sat through 2011 Jason Bay and 2002 Shawn Estes. I also sat through 2015 Jacob deGrom, Lucas Duda, Matt Harvey, and Wilmer Flores.
I was always coming back in 2016. There was no doubt of that. I'm always going to be here. It was everyone else that I was worried about.
Not the fans. We always come back, whether the Mets finish the season in fourth or in first. It's the players that run screaming for the hills when the calendar flips to November.
This year, it's different. Yoenis Cespedes came back. Bartolo Colon came back.
It's not like they're not getting paid: Cespedes will average $25 million a year if he stays for all three seasons and Colon's $7.25 million is not nothing for a pitcher who will turn 43 in May. They also might have left money on the table to come back to Citi Field, to finish what they started in 2015, to be Mets again. For the first time in a long time, players seem to want to be here. And that means more to me than almost anything else.
I'm a big fan of heart. I'm a fan of players who want to be here, who want to play for this team that means so much to so many people. Wilmer Flores and Zack Wheeler fought to stay because of heart. David Wright fought to come back because of heart. Michael Cuddyer retired mid-contract because of heart. We're all here because of heart.
Their heart got me here, got me through family issues and work disasters and everything in between. If Wright can come play through spinal stenosis, who am I to hide at home because something in my life didn't work out perfectly? If Wheeler can watch from a couch in Port St. Lucie while his teammates make it all the way to the World Series, I can't complain about not getting invited to a party.
My editor asked me to define heart, to explain it or measure it. There's no formula, no Statcast, or ZiPS, but here's what I came up with:
I want a player who loves his town. I want Noah Syndergaard spending his offseason at 30 Rock and Madison Square Garden and MetLife Stadium. I want a player who loves his fans. I want Buddy Carlyle playing catch with a kid in the stands before every game. I want a player who loves his team. I want Wilmer Flores crying at the thought of leaving the Mets. That, to me, is heart.
Heart is about playing for the logo, not the contract.
Colon saw that heart and he wanted more of it. He came back because he wanted more New York, more Mets. Colon loves us almost as much as we love him.
Surely that's worth more than his contract.
Cespedes wanted to come back, too. The Nationals offered him a deal, but he picked the Mets. He wants the ring, sure. Who wouldn't? And re-signing with the Mets gives him a good shot at adding to his already impressive jewelry collection.
But do you think Hansel Robles sat down and ran through PECOTA projections when he worked to convince Cespedes to come back? As much as I would like a transcript of that, I really can't imagine that's how the conversation went.
Instead, I imagine it went a little like this:
"Hey Yoenis, remember those three months you spent in a dugout full of people who believe in their team, in their fans, in their city more than anything? Want a few more years of that?"
Cespedes said yes. Colon said yes.
I say yes, too.