There’s a great scene from (500) Days of Summer that employs a unique bit of storytelling that can be universally appreciated, regardless of your penchant for romantic comedies and/or Zooey Deschanel. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Tom attends a party hosted by his ex-girlfriend, Deschanel’s Summer, wherein he expects to charm and woo her back into his good graces and rekindle their romance. Of course, it doesn’t play out that way — Tom mopes around as Summer cold-shoulders him with a very firm friend-zone demeanor.
The fine bit of storytelling comes in using a split screen to simultaneously show two distinct versions of the party: “Expectations,” the one that took place Tom’s head in which he taps into his inner debonair to win back Summer, and “Reality,” the disappointing party that took place.
Over at SNY, they have many a great technology they use to enhance broadcasts. However, I’m just not sure they have the manpower to play a hypothetical game side-by-side with the one actually happening, where they can use archive footage to splice together a productive Curtis Granderson — our “expectations” Curtis Granderson — contrary to the one we’ve seen in reality.
So yes Mets fandom, you’re forgiven if the Grandy Man has you feeling a little bit like Tom Hansen, playing out a desired reality in your head far from what the $60 million man has given us thus far in his 19-game-long Mets tenure. But if the wonderfully crafted scene from (500) Days of Summer taught us anything (other than giving the movie a chance because it really flips the formulaic RomCom genre on its head, but that’s for another time), it’s the value in tempering expectations, and coping healthily when your desires are not met.
Let’s talk healthy coping. Anointing Granderson “Jason Bay 2.0” is not healthy coping. Heartily booing Granderson as he plummets to another 0fer, although the mob mentality of ballpark booing is hard to resist, is not healthy coping. Rationalizing his performance through a wide lens with proper foresight while reminding yourself at every turn that Granderson has yet to play a full month with the Mets? That seems right.
That panic button is there, and despite the use the Mets seem to perpetually get out of it, always seems to look as shiny and crimson as the day it came out of the box. But dear god is it not time to press it yet. A .116 batting average is bad, and it only intensifies our fears when it reads as such at the start of the season. And this is all before considering the oh-god-what-have-we-done level of existential terror as the average comes on the heels of the biggest contract the Mets have shelled out for a free-agent position player in some time. But quitting on Granderson after 19 games? Is that what this has come to?
To help assuage collective fears and temper expectations, let’s remind ourselves of the player we signed up for. Granderson was a 40-100 hitter in Yankee Stadium at full health, but he was never going to be that guy at Citi Field. We also knew after playing just 61 games last season, he was going to need some time to get back in any sort of groove.
What’s more, Granderson failed to hit over .250 in three of his last four full seasons. If we’re talking adjustments, it’s not just trying to stop hitting home runs, it’s re-teaching yourself to become a contact hitter. Changing one’s swing considerably at 33 years old doesn’t happen over 18 games (if it even happens at all). The growing pains were always going to be intense, but in Mets fandom’s (well-deserved) beer goggles, they were ignored, never rationalized or fully considered.
So rather than panic, brace yourself for some rocky waters ahead and remind yourself that Granderson’s season is just 18 games old. He will strike out a ton, his power will leave a little to be desired from his days in the Bronx, but he is not a career .121 hitter and a smart, savvy veteran like Granderson should have to do little to earn your trust regarding his ability to bounce back. It’s the very reason the front office shelled out $60 million for him, and it’s the reason 18 games is far, far too short a time to start calling for Granderson’s head.
Tom didn’t end up with Summer at the end of (500) Days of Summer, and it’s very likely Mets fans won’t wind up with the Curtis Granderson they tricked themselves into thinking they were getting in January 2014. At the same time, the movie did not end with Tom killing himself. Instead, he quit his thankless job in pursuit of a dream career in architecture, met a new girl, and took back control over his own life instead of endless wallowing. Granderson won’t be our Summer Finn, but in time he can be something completely different, a serviceable, well-rounded veteran asset on a team trying to make a desperate push back to any sort of relevance.