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Winning Time

For whoever molds the story of the 2022 New York Mets into a controversial [1] albeit highly entertaining limited series for HBO, here are a few data points to keep in mind when deciding where to be dramatic and where to be accurate.

• Left fielder Nick Plummer [2] was not making his major league debut when he hit his first career home run, and he didn’t hit his first two home runs in the same game. Plummer dipped a toe into the Met outfield in April before returning from the minors in late May to start the two consecutive games over which he hit those first two home runs, one against the Phillies to tie a game that was about to get away [3], one against the Nationals that was relatively incidental to a blowout victory in progress (though definitely very nice to see). Producers will probably wish to frame Plummer as a rookie who never set foot inside a big league ballpark before and perhaps combine his two big games into one. Yet it didn’t happen exactly that way.

• Right fielder Starling Marte [4], despite reminding at least one longtime fan of having an impact on the 2022 Mets similar to right fielder Rusty Staub’s on the 1972 Mets, wasn’t visited in the clubhouse by Rusty Staub before continuing on the hot streak that, among other things, helped destroy the Washington Nationals [5], 13-5, on May 30. It would make for a better story if Staub and Starling forged a bond that transcended a half-century, but, sadly, Rusty passed away in 2018 while Marte was a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

• Owner Steve Cohen didn’t burst through the doors of a raucous Delta Sky360° Club and announce at game’s end, “This franchise just posted the first 13-5 win it’s ever had — it’s a Unicorn Score [6], everybody, and the drinks are on me!” because, as everybody knows, the Mets had previously won by a score of 13-5 on August 3, 2003, meaning this second 13-5 win merely represented a Uniclone Score [7].

• Shortstop Francisco Lindor [8] may have been on a mission to win fans over after a rocky start at Citi Field, but Lindor played an entire season for the Mets prior to 2022. The series based on real events will be tempted to portray Lindor as a free agent with a chip on his shoulder, but he seems to have settled in in real life after a rough 2021 that feels less and less relevant with every passing day given how he’s thriving at the plate (eight consecutive games with a run or more driven in — not eighty consecutive games, which, admittedly, would be more dramatic).

• Second baseman Luis Guillorme [9], who spent the last portion of May on an incredible tear, did not march into Billy Eppler’s office one day in mid-May with an ultimatum to play him or trade him, then come thisclose to being sent to Cincinnati before Eppler was handed a note that informed him Brandon Nimmo would be out for the rest of the season and only then he realized the perennially underestimated Guillorme was his sole option as a leadoff hitter. Guillorme had been playing very well and then stepped up some more to fill in at the top of the order while Nimmo was listed as day-to-day. Also, Guillorme’s defense needs to be in the script, and we don’t believe Eppler ever fired a trophy through his office window (we’re not sure Eppler’s ever won a trophy).

• First baseman Pete Alonso [10]’s thirteenth homer of the season did not have him on a pace suggesting he would break any of Barry Bonds’ home run records, though he did pass Ed Kranepool [11] on the Mets’ all-time home run list. Additionally, the ghost of Hack Wilson was not at Citi Field on May 30; was not situated adjacent to the Mets’ dugout; and did not interrupt any of Steve Gelbs’s puckish hockey playoff updates by drunkenly raging at Alonso, “I dare you to break my single-season RBI record, you…you…you ‘POLO’ BEAR — I double-dare you!” At least the SNY broadcast did not pick up any evidence that any of this happened.

• Lefthanded pitcher Johan Santana didn’t come out of retirement on the eve of the tenth anniversary [12] of his no-hitter to start for the Mets “to make things right with HI57ORY”. While Santana will be the Mets’ guest Tuesday night as they commemorate his no-hitter of June 1, 2012, another lefty, David Peterson [13] started for the Mets on Monday night and pitched into the fifth, falling one-third of an inning shy of qualifying for the win. After the game, it’s possible Peterson wandered out onto Mets Plaza and sought advice from Tom Seaver’s statue, but no contemporary accounts of such an encounter currently exist.

• Atlanta Brave manager Brian Snitker, watching from Phoenix, where the Braves fell 9½ games behind the Mets, didn’t see Buck Showalter conduct his postgame press briefing; didn’t see Buck stare directly into the camera; and didn’t see Buck address him specifically with remarks like, “Get it straight, Snit: you’re not getting anywhere near first place as long as I’m riding herd on my Queens stallions” or anything else implying hallucinations were running rampant between fierce rivals. Besides, the Braves’ loss to the Diamondbacks on May 30 finished later than the Mets’ win versus the Nationals, so chances are Snitker wasn’t watching television at the moment Showalter met the media.

• The Mets did not clinch a playoff spot on Memorial Day in 2022. While we accept that certain events will be condensed to move the action along, 112 games remained after the Mets won their fourth game in a row and raised their record to a nonetheless impressive 33-17. Teams don’t clinch postseason berths in May.

Though that seems like a buzzkill detail at this point.