- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

Going For It

You remember where you were for the truly big trades that reorder a franchise, the ones that you know are lines between before and after.

The winter day when I saw in the newspaper that Gary Carter [1], the ebullient yet tough-as-nails All-Star catcher for the Montreal Expos, was coming to the Mets.

The summer afternoon spent eyeing the wire feed in my office until the cascade of rumor turned into a single, amazing fact: Preternaturally gifted slugger and pop-culture icon Mike Piazza [2] had been sprung from his brief captivity in Miami and was on his way to Flushing.

The night I was walking around with friends at a bachelor party in Las Vegas and spied on a betting parlor’s TV that Johan Santana [3], the Twins’ Cy Young [4] winner and indomitable leader, would indeed be a Met.

And, of course, the frenzied afternoon/evening of bombardment via Twitter and sports radio and SNY and probably random planes equipped for skywriting that the Mets had somehow fallen backwards out of a deal for Carlos Gomez [5] and into one for the Tigers’ monstrous destroyer of baseballs, Yoenis Cespedes [6].

Each time, what I remember most is the happy sense of satisfaction and how it immediately had to make room for anticipation: They’re going for it. Oh this is gonna be fun.

The Mets — you’ve probably heard — struck a deal with the Indians for Francisco Lindor [7] and Carlos Carrasco [8], sending back Andres Gimenez [9], Amed Rosario [10] and a pair of lottery tickets from the low minors in Josh Wolf [11] and Isaiah Greene. Carrasco — 2020’s Comeback Player of the Year after battling leukemia — will slot in behind Jacob deGrom [12] and Marcus Stroman [13] in a rotation that badly needed upgrades. And Lindor? Well, he’s only one of the best players in the sport, electric on offense and defense and the kind of guy who lights up highlight reels, scoreboards and social-media feeds with his joy for the game. And he’s only 27!

Cleveland is heartbroken, and I feel for fans of the team that will soon no longer be the Indians — their franchise hasn’t celebrated a title since 1948, and they’re in a weak division that certainly seemed within their reach. The current team is being torn down despite its owner — Larry Dolan, uncle of the thoroughly loathsome James — being worth $600 million.

That’s a disgrace, plain and simple.

But it’s also baseball. And we’re all too familiar with such disgraces. We’ve just been sprung from the dungeon of Wilpon ownership, freed from their daily displays of dishonesty, incompetence, interference, nepotism, paranoia and stupidity. If you live in Cleveland and you’ve ever teared up at a video of shocked animals tentatively exploring impossibly soft grass after being sprung from puppy mills or factory farms, well, that’s our fanbase right now. Sorry, Cleveland. It shouldn’t be this way, for any of us, but since we can’t change the rules, let us have this. Goodness knows we’ve done our time.

So we promise to take good care of Lindor, hopefully after a contract extension to ensure he’ll stay for a long time. We’ll embrace Cookie. And we’ll wish the best for Gimenez and Rosario. I know it’s no consolation, but you’re going to appreciate Gimenez’s instincts for the game, nodding at how he’s always in the right place on the field and wondering how he just seems to know how to do that. Be patient with Rosario and you may find yourself — as we did at intervals — enjoying a slash-and-burn hitter who makes everybody’s tempo a little quicker. Here’s hoping they’re part of the team that rises in the place of the one being dismantled, and that it’s soon.

The Lindor-Carrasco news came in an awful hurry, moving startlingly quickly from one report to two and then three and then a couple of iterations of the personnel involved and then to a WELCOME TO NEW YORK graphic complete with Photoshopped new Mets. (Among other things, the Steve Cohen regime is so far pretty watertight as far as leaks.) And it arrived as a lot of us were cooped up in front of our computers, trapped by the pandemic and winter and profound worries about our country.

Under those circumstances, I would have been grateful for the distraction of a waiver-wire deal for a potentially still canny pinch-hitter or an nonroster invitation to camp for some lefty reliever who looked good as a minor leaguer a few years ago. But this? This was just a little different.

This was the arrival of a high-wattage star who’ll look perfect in Mets pinstripes, whether he’s going into the hole for a grounder or flying around second with his eye on more — and a big piece of the answer to the pesky question of who’s going to pitch. And this was the formal acknowledgment that things really are different — that we no longer have to grouse about the scratch-and-dent aisle, or nickels in the couch, or parse disingenuous garbage from serial liars in search of hints of a plan, despite our suspicion that there isn’t one.

The Mets are going for it. Oh this is gonna be fun.