Welcome to the Brett Baty  Era of New York Mets baseball. It is fitting that you can’t spell “Bretty Baty” without “era”. After Wednesday night, the same could be said of “Max Scherzer ,” “Starling Marte,” “Trevor May,” “Peter Alonso,” “Edwin Orlando Diaz” and “Francisco A. Lindor.” Lindor’s middle name is Miguel, actually, but you can hardly resist giving the man an “A” after all he’s meant in this upbeat era of Mets baseball.
After two downcast, overcast evenings in Cobb County, the metaphorical sun came out on the Mets’ side of the field in their third game this week against the Braves, attributable in large part to the son of Clint and Leslie Baty coming out to play. We know the names of Brett’s parents because they filled supporting roles in SNY’s telecast Wednesday, co-starring as the proud parents of the fresh-faced rookie first making his major league debut, then making his major league debut indelibly memorable for everybody and not just the Baty family. One plate appearance into his Baseball-Reference game log, on the second pitch he ever saw, Brett swung at what Jake Odorizzi threw him in the second inning and sent it on a ride to right field. Kid knew enough to make reservations at the Chop House, apparently, for that’s where the ball he hit went. It was a two-run homer to start a career; a two-run homer to extend an already two-run lead — achieved on back-to-back first-inning solo shots from Marte and Lindor — to 4-0; and with Baty floating on Benny Ayalaesque air and Scherzer resuming his night, the rest of the story prepared to write itself.
Then the story got damp, having left its pencil out in the rain, all the sweet black graphite flowing down. Someone left the mound and the rest of the field out in the rain, too. That meant another delay, just as on Monday, and another veteran starter having to stay loose. Max didn’t look quite as uncoiled as usual before the downpour and he didn’t look too patient waiting for the grounds crew to spruce up his mound after the dirt commenced to drying. Max Scherzer is the eldest Met. He’s seen some rain delays. He can fix his own mound like he can fix a stare.
Thirty-four minutes of waiting ended. Scherzer returned to his craft. It was the bottom of the third, the Mets had a four-run lead and one of the two best pitchers of the Jacob deGrom Era going for them. They had Max’s excellence, Max’s experience and Brett’s injection of hiss and vinegar (expression cleaned up in deference to Brett’s mom sitting in the stands). All the Mets had to do was what they usually do in this era.
Technically, they did. They won. They never trailed. The Braves never really got to Scherzer, but Scherzer never really put them away, either. From the end of the third, after giving up one post-rain run, through the sixth, it appeared Max had locked in as Max will, and the Met lead had built to 6-1, and you figured it was a nice dollop of payback for the previous two nights of figurative and literal pain. Scherzer didn’t have to leave the game early as Carlos Carrasco (oblique strain) and Taijuan Walker (back spasms) had. These Mets added on, with Mark Canha doubling in a run in the sixth and Marte homering for a second time in the seventh. Not only did we finally get around to answering Atlanta’s annoying habit of bringing up young impact players on a monthly basis, but we had that deGrom fellow waiting the wings for the next night. Everything looked wonderful.
Then it looked less so. A tight strike zone betrayed Scherzer. He left with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh, handing the ball to Adam Ottavino, whose “0” never looks quite large enough on the back of his jersey and for whom “0” never had a chance to blink onto the scoreboard. For a second there, Adam had us extricated, on a nifty 5-4-3 double play started by none other than Baty, who’d kept swinging a lightning-quick bat (albeit into a couple of outs) and now was showing defensive felicity at his position. Alas, the first DP started by the 182nd third baseman in Mets history and 1,174th Met overall was erased by video replay review on the flimsy pretense that batter Vaughn Grissom barely beat Jeff McNeil’s throw to first. Harumph!
One run scored on the overturned double play, which would have represented an adequate avenue of escape for Ottavino had he in fact found an exit from the jam he inherited. Instead, Robbie Grossman came up next and Grossman grabbed the table next to Baty, homering to Chop House territory in right and, whoa, it was suddenly 6-5. The only thing that saved the pitcher was his catcher, James McCann, who gunned down Ronald Acuña, Jr., trying to steal second after Ottavino walked Acuña after Ottavino gave up the homer to Grossman.
There was nothing to like in them bullpen apples, but Buck Showalter is always one to inspect the orchard he’s got rather than the orchard he wants, so he sprang into managerial action. In the bottom of the eighth, with the Mets still leading by a skinny run, the skipper skipped the setup niceties and went straight to his closer. Edwin Diaz entered to an off-brand version of “In The Air Tonight” rather than “Narco” — William Contreras holds the local rights — but Sugar makes his own kind of music in whichever ballpark he pitches. Facing the heart of an order that is all vital organs, Edwin swiftly put down Dansby Swanson (swinging), Austin Riley (flyout to center) and Matt Olson (looking). It took him ten pitches. The best ninth-inning man in the business can extend his franchise to eighths at will.
Since Diaz needed to exert himself minimally to brush aside further bad Brave behavior, Buck resisted his instinct to get a lesser arm up to protect the one-run edge in the ninth. Another two-inning save was on the horizon. Perhaps it would have implications Thursday and Friday. This was Wednesday. Winning Wednesday was the order of the day on Wednesday. Plans changed, though, when the Mets increased their advantage ASAP, looking very much like the first-place outfit that it took a pair of injuries for Brett Baty to crack. Brandon Nimmo and Lindor each singled. Nimmo dashed to third on Lindor’s hit. Lindor stole second while Alonso hit. Alonso, who could have been intentionally walked at that point, singled instead, which worked great for us. Brandon and Francisco each scored to make it 8-5. Pete stole second, which will happen when a Polar Bear sniffs opportunity. Daniel Vogelbach, who you’d assume has all the letters in his name, whacked a double to right to bring the Bear home. It was 9-5. Diaz could relax.
We couldn’t. It was Trevor May time. No save opportunity. Definitely an opportunity to blow the game. Trevor, reverting to his early-2021 alter ego of Rover T. Yam  (the “T” stands for trouble), plunged that four-run lead into grave danger. After striking out Eddie Rosario, Yam gave up a single to “Narco”-thieving Contreras, then another to Michael Harris, who I’m certain has been bedeviling us for a decade yet is somehow younger than Baty, the chronologically youngest Met yet. Contreras was on third, Harris was on first. Then Harris stole second uncontested, positioning him to zip home behind Contreras when Grissom — also younger than Baty — drove them both in.
So much youth in action. Such an old story unfolding. At Turner Field in 1999, the year Baty was born, a game like this ends with Kenny Rogers walking Andruw Jones with the bases loaded (Kenny didn’t require an automatic runner on second in extras). Or if it’s 2001, the year Michael Harris and Vaughn Grissom were born, there’s Brian Jordan waiting in the on-deck circle, licking his lips in anticipation of a walkoff grand slam versus John Franco. Those of us who have been around a long time are familiar with ancient story beats.
New era in progress here. It’s 2022. Rover T. Yam morphed back into Trevor May, striking out Grossman and then flying out Acuña to deep but not too deep right. Mets held on, 9-7 , preserving the 199th win in the illustrious career of Max Scherzer, who was born the day Dwight Gooden was definitively making his case for National League Rookie of the Year, and the good taste in the mouth of Brett Baty, who was born less than four weeks after Robin Ventura launched the Grand Slam Single of Metsian lore . Doc and the first-place Mets beating the second-place Cubs on July 27, 1984, when Max first glared at his mother’s obstetrician  (“yeah, I was gonna spank him, but he gave me a pretty intense look, so I’m just gonna assume he’s fine”). Ventura was staving off the Braves, elimination and, with less success, Todd Pratt some fifteen years later. High school-age Max was probably watching the Mets and Braves carry on for fifteen innings that rainy Sunday at Shea. He was old enough to stay up late on October 17, 1999. Hell, he’s old enough to have pitched at Shea for the Diamondbacks on June 11, 2008.
Brett, who came into this world on November 12, 1999, was just a kid in 2008, no more than a coming attraction to Clint and Leslie while Robin and the Mets were Risin’ our Mojo. He was a coming attraction to us from the night he was drafted first by the Mets, twelfth in the nation, when we were enduring the dregs of 2019 . Even with the battle-tested Mets of 2022 — led exclusively to date by players born in the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s — steadily holding first place all season, a fan can’t help but feel a thrill when a top prospect is promoted from concept to reality. It might mean more when we’re livin’ in desperate times . It’s a welcome sensation  anytime. A second-pitch, first-swing home run that facilitates a victory over your closest pursuers and traditional tormentors imbues it with plenty of meaning.
On April 30, 1965, Jim Bethke , then 18, finished a game started by Warren Spahn , then 44. On May 31, 2006, Lastings Milledge , then 21, started a game in which Julio Franco , then 47, pinch-hit. The chasm from Scherzer to Baty isn’t quite as expansive as those generational Met divides, but it’s always something to absorb how these careers and eras overlap, all under the umbrella of a given Mets team, sometimes within the confines of a single Mets box score. I’m ecstatic that Mets Old Timers Day, AWOL for 28 summers, is happening on August 27 because there will be Mets on hand  from 1962 and Mets on hand from as recently as 2018, maybe 2020, depending on who RSVPs at the last minute, and Mets from just about every year in between. Gooden will be there. Ventura will be there. We will be there, whether physically or spiritually. As ever, we are the common denominator of these sixty-plus years. We are the Mets fans. Whatever our vintage, it is always our era.
Additional thoughts on the family reunion that will be Old Timers Day, plus a few hosannas for Buck Showalter and the friends who invite you to see his team do its thing, fill out the lineup on the latest episode of National League Town, a podcast a Mets fan can find here  and listen to most anywhere.