There are times when entire baseball seasons or championships are believed to turn, for better or worse, on single acts at the plate, on the mound, or in the field. Marshal the appropriate evidence and those beliefs can be either upheld or obliterated.
Having spent much of June reeling somewhat ferociously, the Mets enter a set against the first place Nationals on a small tear of having won four out of six. Two of the four were a sweep of the defending world champion Royals, against whom the Mets lost a 2015 World Series they actually could have won (they won this season’s series against the Royals, 3-1), and they’ve just split a set in Atlanta with the lowly Braves who swept them rather ignominiously at home the previous weekend.
This season has not lacked for plain fun. See Max Scherzer’s 20-strikeout jewel. Trevor Story’s explosive season opening, Jake Arrieta’s second no-hitter. Bryce Harper’s continuing excellence and “Make Baseball Fun Again” campaign. The you-thought-we-were-kidding-last-year dominance of the Chicago Cubs. (You’re not seeing things, even when you saw the Cubs destroy the Reds 16-0 while Arrieta worked his wonder.)
Spending at at least a year and a half as the subject of trade speculation, while insisting he really didn’t want to leave Denver, Troy Tulowitzki—swapped to the Blue Jays this week, for former Mets shortstop Jose Reyes—says he was blindsided almost completely by the deal. Apparently, he had a gentleman’s agreement with Rockies owner Dick Monfort that he wouldn’t be dealt without his prior knowledge and approval. Until he didn’t, of course.
It it possible to make anything resembling sense of the Miami Marlins’ latest l’affaire d’absurd? It is, though not even Edmund Burke (who conjugated the strategic mischief of the French Revolution), Martin Buber (who conjugated the spiritual foundation of dialogue), or Red Smith (whose conjugation of official baseball mischief in his time was second to none) themselves would find it easy to do without reaching first for their preferred distilled spirits.
Ethically, of course, the deal reeks like the dead Fish conventional wisdom claims it to be, particularly in view of:
If you want to know the best reason why New York Mets manager Terry Collins isn’t anywhere close to the proverbial hot seat, and why Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine may be lucky to escape with his life when the season ends, you need look no further than what Collins did after a gruesome enough loss to the Philadelphia Phillies Thursday and before a blessed enough win against the Miami Marlines Friday.
The proverbial change of scenery scenario is almost as old as Fenway Park. A player thought to be a secured ingredient in a team’s fortunes proves less enough of that, for various reasons, that when the team decides to let him walk into free agency, or makes a nebulous attempt to re-sign him, or trades him away, the team can’t resist thinking that the old change of scenery will do the player and, perhaps, the team a huge favour.
Sandy Koufax has made annuals visits to the New York Mets’ spring training camp in Port St. Lucie for several years. His longtime friendship with beleaguered owner Fred Wilpon is one reason; his longtime friendship with manager Terry Collins has become another. This time, his first spring visit focused on two young Mets pitchers, Bobby Parnell and Matt Harvey. The Hall of Famer talked mechanics with Parnell and confidence with Harvey, who said he was “blown away” by Koufax’s visit.
Before you arrange the necktie parties for the parties involved, let’s make one thing absolutely incontrovertible: When all was said, and too much was done or undone, depending upon your point of view, the New York Mets had little enough choice but to think about letting Jose Reyes go. Especially if they weren’t going to quit kidding themselves and swap him at the midsummer nonwaiver trade deadline for something better than a third-round draft pick at best.
Memo to: Everyone carping about the manner in which Jose Reyes won the National League batting championship.
Subject: You’re carping up the wrong trees, folks. (That includes you, C.J. Wilson.)