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The Mets vs. the Ex-Mets

The Mets, wearing blue, beat the Reds, wearing red and white, by a score of 7-4 on July 4th, and what could be better than that?

OK, both teams were wearing god-awful hats from which independence should have been declared, and the Reds continue to ruin their perfectly good uniforms with a black drop shadow that fell out of MLB vogue about a decade ago. But the basic premise holds. Note also that — as Greg pointed out on Twitter [1] — the Mets celebrated 1990’s Independence Day with a 7-4 win [2]. (That one came against the Astros, whom we have had considerable difficulty beating in 2022.)

Midway through Monday night’s game, my kid asked me a question: Since I’d fumed [3] about how boring the Mets’ home-run-heavy loss to the Rangers was, was I also bored tonight? After all, at that point the Mets led 4-3 and once again the only runs had scored via dingers: Brandons Nimmo and Drury had hit equal and opposite three-run shots and Francisco Lindor [4] had put the Mets back in front with a solo homer.

It was a fair question, and I thought about it for a little bit. My answer was no, for two reasons: For one, Taijuan Walker [5] was pitching marvelously for the Mets, continuing a recent run of solid starts that have the feel of a guy taking the next step in his development as both a pitcher and a pitching strategist. For another, Cincy’s Hunter Greene [6] was interesting to watch — a big raw talent who doesn’t look like he’s ready but should be a lot of fun once he calluses up and figures some things out.

There was also the sight of ex-Mets everywhere: Brandon Drury [7] is having a terrific year for the Reds after being a valuable member of 2021’s bench mob. Matt Reynolds [8] — whom I’d completely forgotten was a 2022 Met for approximately 20 minutes back in April — looked solid with the bat and in the field. There was Albert Almora [9] Jr., who did us a solid on Sunday by beating the Braves. I even caught sight of Hunter Strickland [10] in the bullpen, and you could say that Alexis Diaz [11] counts at least a little. And of course there’s the possibility that the Mets are contenders for the services of Luis Castillo [12] or Tyler Mahle [13] before the the month is over, potentially sending more players to the team with the other baseball-headed mascot.

And then the Mets courteously differentiated their attack after my kid and I had our conversation, with Dom Smith [14] and Eduardo Escobar [15] doubling in crucial extra runs (though Escobar nearly short-circuited his own rally in doing so). Drew Smith [16] somehow survived an inning in which he was strafed by everybody except the bat boy, but Colin Holderman [17] and Seth Lugo [18] acquitted themselves blamelessly and the Mets had won.

They won [19], and on Tuesday Max Scherzer [20] returns for the last game of the first half of the season, with Jacob deGrom [21] down in Florida throwing actual pitches in anger against actual opponents. That’s worthy of a celebration, wouldn’t you say?