These Mets, they are one of the premier teams in baseball in 2022.
Despite ending the first half on a losing note, they finished their splendid start to the season with a 58-35 record, second in the National League behind the Dodgers, and fourth in all of baseball, behind the Yankees, Dodgers and Astros, in that order. Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom have taken a combined 11 starts, and thrown a combined 69 innings — with deGrom contributing a whopping zero starts and zero innings to that total — and they are one of the elite teams in the league anyway. If you would have told anyone those two would miss a significant amount of time, I doubt anyone would expect them to be sitting atop the NL East.
Despite all that, the vibes have been off amongst some fans — and I will not lie to you, I have certainly been doing my fair share of complaining — while they bad a barely-over-.500 month in June, and the Braves decided to never lose again. The roster had obvious holes in it coming into the season — namely needing an extra bat or two and a few relievers — and those holes were exacerbated as the season wore on, and basically rear their head on a daily basis, win or lose. The Mets made up for it with with a strong July, including an impressive series win in Atlanta in which both of their wins were rather easy, but the issues remained.
And on one hand, I get it.
But also, this Mets team is good. They are 23 games over .500 for the first time since the 2006 season, which is almost incomprehensibly long ago in baseball standards. That 2006 team was supposed to be the start of a dynasty — instead, they lost the NLCS in heartbreaking fashion, choked away playoff aspirations in 2007 and 2008, and became an embarrassing bottom dweller that was implicated in as many Ponzi Schemes (1) as World Series appearances (1) from 2009 until Steve Cohen bought the team prior to the 2021 campaign.
While it definitely stings to think about what if in regards to the 2006 squad, they also should be a cautionary tale. While the Steve Cohen Mets seem to be set up for long term success, almost entirely because he is a multi-multi-multi billionaire who is willing to spend enough money to be competitive, one truly never knows what could happen next. I know I wish I savored the 2006 team more, mostly because 12 year old me assumed they would be back. And they were not.
Before I hand you, dear reader, off to my good friend David’s words, I will leave you with some numbers:
2180-2187, 5, 2, 2, 0, which are:
win-loss record, playoff appearances, division titles, National League pennants, and World Series victories since I was born. -Thomas Henderson
The first Mets team I ever really watched was the 2006 team. I was in fourth grade, and it was the first time I ever closely followed the Mets and baseball at large. Luckily enough, that turned out to be one of the best Mets teams ever. And because of that, 9-year-old me had no reason to think the Mets could ever be bad, because I had never really seen them be bad. Even though I loosely followed the team in 2004 and 2005, I didn’t follow close enough to know the true horrors that occurred in what one might call the “Braden Looper Era.” All I knew was that the Mets always seemed to win on the off occasion when I watched them, so in my tiny mind that meant they must’ve been good.
The 2006 season didn’t do anything to dispel that notion, either. But of course, in the many seasons after that, I learned that not only could the Mets be bad, it was actually their normal state of being. The Mets are almost never good. I spent the next 15 years dreaming of actually being able to enjoy a Mets team that, like the 2006 team, could just be objectively good, start to finish, with no real drama about if they were going to make the playoffs or not.
The 2015 season was a fun ride, and the Mets were a great team by the end of that season, but that was mostly just an unreal two months tacked on the end of a mediocre and frustrating first four months. The 2016 team, similarly, had a magical final 6 weeks backed by the likes of TJ Rivera, Robert Gsellman, and Seth Lugo that earned them a fluky playoff appearance that lasted one whole game.
That was all I really had as a fan; a great season I couldn’t really appreciate because it happened before all of my adult teeth had even come in, and a few fleeting months of success sprinkled throughout the 15 years after that.
But now, the Mets are finally really good again, and objectively so. Fangraphs currently projects them to win 98 games, which is one more game than they won in that 2006 season. With the expanded postseason, there is not a lot of drama about whether or not they’ll make the playoffs, as Fangraphs also pegs them at a 99.5% likelihood to make it to October is some fashion. This isn’t a hot few months or a team playing above its head; this is a genuinely excellent baseball team in Flushing.
In other words, this is the kind of season we’ve all been waiting 16 years for. But looking around at the way fans talk about this team, it doesn’t feel like it. There’s been a general sense of angst and impending doom around this team for weeks as the Braves have inched closer to the Mets in the standings, even though the Mets haven’t exactly gone cold and still managed a winning record through a tough June and currently hold a winning record in the month of July—and oh yeah, still have the second best record in the NL.
Far be it from me to tell anybody how to be a fan, but this is pretty clearly the best team the Mets have fielded since the Motorola RAZR and the Nintendo Wii were the coolest technology we had. I’ve watched enough Mets baseball to know that future success is not guaranteed, and I might have to wait another 16 years to see another Mets team this good. Being a Mets fan has certainly taught me how to be cynical, but it’s also taught me that I need to enjoy the good times when they are here.
So while the team has flaws and needs upgrades, and the Braves are on a historically great 7-week run, spending time worrying about how this could go for the Mets wrong feels like missing the forest for the trees. The cynicism is certainly understandable—and God knows I never miss a chance to complain about the Mets—but this 2022 squad has probably earned the benefit of the doubt. This is one of the better teams in baseball that’s about to get better in a few weeks, and it’s okay to be confident in them and have some fun with it. I know I don’t want to look back at this season and wish I could’ve enjoyed it more. This has been an incredibly fun first half, and I’m looking forward to a similarly fun and intense second half. -David Capobianco