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Looking Foolish

Even with low expectations coming into the season, the lost opening weekend for the Mets created a sense of disappointment.

Last year seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it? I mean, at this time in 2023, the Mets were in the midst of a successful opening series against the Miami Marlins, winning three out of four games, and expanding on fans’ optimism and high expectations. Of course, as you may remember, all those good feelings came to a harsh halt when they were swept by the Milwaukee Brewers in their second series of the season. In two of those three ugly games, the Mets offense was noticeably dormant, and in the other game, their pitching was the culprit in a 7-6 loss. Additionally, that was the series in which the Mets lost Omar Narvaez for a couple months. While he wasn’t considered a key to the Mets 2023 plans, losing him certainly had a trickle-down effect on the team.

Flash forward to this year…the Mets skipped the Miami middle-men and went right to the three-game sweep at the hands of the Brewers. Once again, they had two low-offense games, once again they had a pitching-poor 7-6 loss, and possibly once again, they might have lost a player who was working to prove his value to the team, only this time it’s Tylor Megill (precautionary MRI results pending).

A key difference between the two Milwaukee Massacres (okay, that’s a little heavy-handed but I adore alliteration) were the expectations coming in. Last year, the Mets had the highest payroll by a wide margin, and added future Hall of Fame pitcher Justin Verlander, Japanese All-Star pitcher Kodai Senga, crafty veteran (“crafty” means he doesn’t throw as hard as a “fireballer” but still finds ways to win sometimes) pitcher Jose Quintana to round out the rotation, and a couple of dependable veteran arms for the bullpen, David Robertson and Brooks Raley. All of that was added to a team that in the previous season had won over 100 games. We all know how that worked out. The team underperformed drastically, and Verlander and Robertson finished the season with different teams.

As has been well-documented, the Mets did not add anyone of that caliber before this season. While low expectations may not have been a specified goal, they were an obvious side effect of the Mets 2024 approach. Even with the late signing of JD Martinez, the Mets entered the season looking no better than a slightly above .500 team. Despite the similar results in their Brew Crew experiences, the 2024 team is definitely not the 2023 team.

So, in one sense, I came away from this sweep feeling more indifferent than disappointed. If I don’t really think the Mets are going to be that great this season, then how could I feel disappointed when they’re not?

Then there’s the other sense…the baseball fan sense…the person who begins every gameday thinking the Mets have a chance to win without thinking too much about the bigger picture (like standings and such). And it’s in that sense that this past weekend was hard to stomach. While the 2024 Mets may not be built like a juggernaut, they’re also not built to be a doormat. Still, that’s what they looked like this past weekend. They welcomed the Brewers to their home and then allowed the Brewers to walk all over them. Even if the Mets don’t hint at contending this year, they’re supposed to be better than this.

Sure, Martinez is still getting into season-ready shape, after having missed just about all of Spring Training while negotiating his contract. And sure, Senga had a shoulder injury derail his preseason progress and is just now where he should have been 5 weeks ago. In other words, this team will likely get better in the near-ish future. That said, they couldn’t get much worse than what they showed in the first three games of the season.

So, now they get to turn the page. They don’t play the Brewers again until the final weekend of the season, and by then the outcomes may not be all that impactful to any notion of playing beyond that series. Instead, the Mets can now shift their focus to the Detroit Tigers. That’s cool. I mean they played them last year and they…(checks last year’s schedule)…got swept.