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Competing Visions

“Please cover your left eye and tell me what you saw Wednesday night from Atlanta.”

David Peterson [1] carrying a no-hitter into the fifth inning, showing the promise that gets us so excited about him … defensive prodigy Khalil Lee [2] making his second sensational catch in two nights … Cameron Maybin [3] using his wheels and wits to race from home to third without a base hit to set up the potential go-ahead run … James McCann [4]’s bullet of a throw nailing Dansby Swanson and snuffing out the biggest threat within a burgeoning Braves rally … a huge hit from one of the Mets’ three catchers, which strikes me as the ideal number for a club to carry … Jacob Barnes [5] courageously rescuing the Mets in relief .. .Mets pitchers continuing to neutralize the ever dangerous Ronald Acuña, Jr. … and the plucky Mets going to the ninth with every chance to sweep a series despite having almost no business winning this game. God, I can’t get enough of this team!”

“All right, now please cover your right eye and tell me what you saw Wednesday night from Atlanta.”

“David Peterson imploding in the fifth inning, showing the limitations that gets us so frustrated with him … offensive naïf Khalil Lee doing literally nothing but striking out … Cameron Maybin having no bat whatsoever, either … James McCann not so much as lifting a lousy sacrifice fly that would have scored Maybin after Maybin converted a strikeout into first base via wild pitch, second base via a steal and third base via another wild pitch … Tomás Nido [6] sitting on the bench after he delivered his big pinch-hit earlier instead of having been in the game the whole time, which seemed ridiculous considering how hot he’s been and how useless McCann has been, so how about managing your three catchers properly? … Jacob Barnes giving up the walkoff homer in a tie game on the first pitch of the ninth after somehow wriggling out of the mess Aaron Loup left him in the eighth … Ronald Acuña, Jr., breaking his serieslong schneid by torching Barnes to beat the Mets, 5-4 [7] … and the stupid Mets blowing multiple chances to win a game they had absolutely no business losing. God, I’ve had enough of this team!”

“OK, I’d say your vision is 2021.”

“Huh? I’ve heard of 20/20, but not 20/21.”

“Your vision is a condition specific to Mets fans this season. It’s ‘2021 Mets’.”

“Is it rare?”

“Actually, there seems to be an epidemic of it among certain segments of the baseball-watching population.”

“Is it serious?”

“I’d call it seasonal. I see a variant of it most years.”

“How does a person know if he has it?”

“The defining symptom of ‘2021 Mets’ is an unreasonable view that these particular Mets, despite all of their injuries and the dizzying turnover of their roster, shouldn’t lose any game they seem to have a reasonable chance of winning.”

“What do you mean ‘unreasonable’? They were ahead, 1-0, on Villar’s homer! They were ahead, 4-3, on Peraza’s double and Nido’s two-ribbie single! They had Maybin on third in a tie game and all they needed was a frigging fly ball! Luis had outsmarted Snitker to get Morton out of the game! They had Acuña contained! Lee already deserves the Gold Glove! Dom played first like a real first baseman! And Peterson had a no-hitter going before anybody gave a second thought to Corey Kluber [8]!”

“You didn’t let me finish my diagnosis. When your vision is ‘2021 Mets,’ it is unreasonable to see the Mets as a team that’s going to win every game they’re in, but it won’t seem unreasonable as long as the Mets remain doggedly competitive.”

“They’re a major league team! They’re supposed to compete!”

“Try these lenses. Tell me what you see.”

“I see … I see minor leaguers and other teams’ castoffs. Maybin really looks cooked. Lee looks totally overmatched at the plate. Loup looks like he’s the one who should’ve retired instead of Blevins. Peterson looks more inexperienced than I think of him as. Through these lenses, I see a team that does nothing but let me down.”

“What don’t you see?”

“Um, no Conforto. No Nimmo. No McNeil. Wow, now, I don’t even see Alonso [9]. Jesus, they don’t look like they can possibly compete!”

“Uh-huh. Now try these lenses.”

“Hey, that’s much better!”

“What do you see?”

“I see … I see bench guys coming through and callups surprising me occasionally and pretty clutch defense and relievers providing relief despite being used so much and, hey, Maybin’s speed really stands out. Through these lenses, I see a team that’s managed to withstand crazy adversity and remain in first place.”

“Different lenses, different visions.”

“What can you give me so I can see the 2021 Mets for what they really are?”

“I’m writing you a prescription for 125 more games. Take them one at a time.”