Someday Spring Training will be over. I’m basing that solely on precedent and occasional commercials hawking ticket packages that include access to Opening Day. Otherwise, we’re marooned inside that Journey song that implores us to not stop believing, the one whose movie never ends, it goes on and on and on and on…
Entering Tuesday, the Mets’ Grapefruit League record was 5-11 with two ties. I only know that because Buster Olney tweeted a link to the Spring Training standings and I clicked on it out of fleeting curiosity. Up to that point, I couldn’t have told you the Mets’ record nor how many games comprised it. I sort of remembered the ties.
Tuesday afternoon brought the Mets their twelfth loss, which I kept on in the background via Astros radio. It wasn’t baseball that mattered in the least, but it was close enough for a dreary March afternoon in the middle of a Spring Training that goes on and on, et al. I guess that’s the point of Spring Training as consumed away from its origin point. Other teams’ announcers sound like anthropologists when they talk about your team in March. Because they were facing the Mets and they rarely have cause to think about the Mets, these Astros blokes retold the legend of “¡Yo La Tengo !” — and it’s surely to their credit that they did. The 1962 Mets are canon. Besides, what else are they gonna talk about where the Mets are concerned? Rafael Montero being out of options? If I were broadcasting an Astros game as a visiting announcer in Spring Training, I’d be quoting generously from the latter pages of Ball Four. “Say, did you know what Jim Bouton wrote about Harry Walker?”
This was a split-squad affair. Tuesday night was to bring other Mets playing the Nationals. You can’t keep Spring Training going without keeping Spring Training going. If I were broadcasting a Nationals game as a visiting announcer, I’d eventually mention that the short-lived television version of Ball Four had Jim Bouton playing Jim Barton playing for the Washington Americans, back when Washington didn’t have a major league team.
These days, Washington has the Nationals. It just never has a National League Championship Series.
Brandon Nimmo does something good every time I tune in to one of these faux affairs. Nimmo led off with a homer for the Mets only run Tuesday afternoon. I’m partly excited to see if this will translate to Brandon Nimmo doing many things well when the alleged season begins. I suspect he won’t be as good as he’s looked and sounded, won’t be as bad as I fear. I’m not necessarily worried about Brandon Nimmo, especially if he plays center when the left and right fielder each throw out a runner and I can thus refer to our outfield as Guns and Nimmo. I do worry that his talents are being wasted on games that don’t count, games that are counted only in standings that list only teams that train in Florida, standings that have to pause to figure out what to do with ties.
The Mets didn’t sign Jonathan Lucroy. He was out there for quite a while, as were many name-brand free agents. Maybe they really do like Travin d’Arwecki more than a two-time All-Star catcher who could’ve been had for a song, Journey’s or otherwise. I suspect they like the Plawecki portion of their platoon more than the d’Arnaud slice.
Every Spring it hits me there is a cache of Mets who have been young up-and-comers for as long as I’ve known of them, yet they are now in the hearts of their careers, as up-and-come, perhaps, as they’re likely to get. A few years ago, it was everybody who was still around from having made their debuts under Jerry Manuel . Suddenly, it’s the first wave of legit prospects to introduce themselves to Terry Collins. Harvey. Familia. Lagares. Wheeler. Flores. D’Arnaud. Montero. DeGrom. We got our first looks at each of them between 2012 and 2014. None of them is younger than 26. DeGrom, the oldest among them, is sneaking up on 30. None of them is ancient for baseball, let alone life. All of them have been what we call around, albeit only for us. For those who have not yet produced consistently, I’d like to believe they haven’t peaked. For those who have descended from their peaks, I’d like to believe they will rise again.
I came up under Gil Hodges. I’d like to think I have some elevation space left.
Is unconditional release an option for the out-of-options Montero? I’m willing to risk the inevitable “they should have shown more patience with him” blowback when he three-hits the Mets three times in the next three months. Callaway and Eiland were recently spotted morphing into Collins and Warthen watching their bullpen not end innings. But it’s only spring.
Neil Walker is unfortunately a Yankee. But he’ll always be from Pittsburgh to me.
The Mets continue to experience injuries. I thought they might have systematically eliminated those. Yoenis Cespedes played with a sore wrist for a few days. Didn’t mention it to anybody. That would make him a gamer in September. Makes him misguided in March. Also probably not a good idea to not mention it in September, but playing through pain with a playoff spot on the line is one of those things we admire and respect. Playing through pain when hardcore fans are unaware of how many you’ve won or lost doesn’t seem a great idea.
Nor is judging Yoenis Cespedes on the direction he wears his cap during fielding drills.
David Wright will refrain from baseball activities for the next eight weeks. The first few weeks will be easy, as it seems to involve listening to Mets minor leaguers being described by out-of-town radio announcers. Those are my baseball activities at the moment. David’s been on the force for so many years. Everybody’s urging him to turn in his weapon and take that desk job. But Det. Wright still has crimes to solve and criminals to nab. Admiration and respect reflexively flow toward David. It hurts to know he is drifting inevitably into the cornfield. Maybe eight weeks of rest will freshen his back, his shoulders, the entirety of his anatomy. We’d like to not stop believing there’ll be a playoff spot on the line in September, and Cespedes can’t carry us to it alone, not with that wrist of his.
Anthony Swarzak’s left calf is still a thing. So is Dom Smith’s left quad. On the bright side, the spirit of Jon Niese was last seen being exorcised from Steven Matz’s left arm.
Matt Harvey doesn’t want to talk about the past. Fine. Go make a present worth raving about.
Adrian Gonzalez and Tim Tebow are still being given every chance to play against major league competition. What the hell, it’s only March.
March weather in New York has been relentlessly dreary. Odds are it will still be dreary on March 29, but that won’t stop anybody from pretending it isn’t.
Has Noah Syndergaard put on a shirt yet? He’s going to need one by the end of the month .