Updated: Apr 3
Image: Ballparks of Baseball
Welcome to the Amazins in Astoria! In this new series on House Enterprise, I will be chronicling the 2022 New York Mets season from the perspective of myself, a lifelong Mets fan. Inspired by the 2005 book Faithful by Stewart O'Nan and Stephen King, I hope that this series can help highlight what I think makes baseball great.
Once the regular season starts, I'll be posting a new entry at the conclusion of every series, but for now, I'll be periodically giving updates every few days during Spring Training. Without any further ado, here is my entry for opening weekend.
March 19th-Spring Training Opener vs. Washington Nationals
As the sun peeked through my blinds on Saturday morning, I realized that the day had finally come. After months of endless scrolling, Googling, and refreshing Jeff Passan's Twitter, I would have a Mets game to watch today. Although I wasn't the biggest fan of everything in the CBA (namely the expanded playoff), I was glad to see that the players gained a lot of ground in this one. Most of all, however, I was just excited to have my Mets back.
While I had kind of assumed I'd spring out bed, and stroll down the street like in a Gene Kelly movie (or Andy Milonakis), I rolled out of bed in pretty much the same glaze I usually do, though in a much better mood than usual. The Mets would play today, and that's all I needed to kickstart my summer early. While baseball is a huge personal priority this weekend, I am also playing the role of entertainer for some friends that are visiting. I would love to get back to my apartment by first pitch, but as we head down the East River on the Astoria Ferry, some extra time outside wouldn't kill me.
Late March in New York is a strange time, as neither the climate nor the people can agree on what season it is. As my friends and I walk through Battery Park eating cherry dipped soft serve, a father and his kids are ice skating on a slush-filled rink. As my friends and I debate the seasonal limbo we're currently in, I realize that it's 6:30, and I won't be making it back in time for first pitch. With my phone dead as well, I'm completely in the dark. How am I supposed to enjoy time with my friends if I can't excessively check the score of an exhibition game?
Luckily, as we make our way through the Oculus Train Station, my friends and I dip into the Apple Store. As my friends test out some headphones, I head over to one of the iPads and get the score up, and see the Mets are up 4-0 at the end of one. Nice! Three homers in the first frame from Guillorme, Smith, and Plummer gave me some early hope that DeGrom and company would finally get the run support they so desperately needed. While back in the dark on the subway ride home, I'm confident enough that they can't blow it too hard by the time I check back in.
By the time I get back to my apartment and open my laptop, it's 5-0 through four innings, with the most recent run coming from a Dom Smith triple. It's a beauty of a play when I check the replay later, more so for Smith's speed than where he put the ball in play. However, before I can figure out where I can get the game on, I'm ushered out of the apartment by my friend who noticed the five firetrucks outside my building. It seems that the powers that be just do not want me to watch this game. After the FDNY saws into the abandoned Poke-bowl shop next door to look for a non-existent gas leak, I head back upstairs, turn on my tv, and...realize that this first game wasn't on tv. Sorry, Howie, but considering my current guest situation, it'd be rude to pop in an Airpod and listen to the end of the audio broadcast. The Mets close it out 6-2, and I'm satisfied enough to focus on the rest of my night.
March 30-Spring Training vs. St. Louis Cardinals
As I wake up this morning, the first thing I do is check that today's game is on tv. After confirming that it is, I embark on my pregame quest to find a bagel. When your apartment is two floors above a bagel shop, it's easy to find a rut, so my friends and I journeyed two blocks north in search of a change in scenery. These new guys added lettuce and tomato to my usual chicken salad on a plain bagel order, and despite it's simplicity, the changeup was a perfect way to tee up the first televised Mets game of the season.
Ahead of the game, Buck Showalter states in an interview that offseason signing Starling Marte will likely be inactive for most of Spring Training with an oblique injury. In an attempt to quell the panic, Buck Showalter talks about this team's depth in the outfield. While I can't completely disagree, the graphic SNY shows pregame in regards to the NL East's free agency acquisitions does make me a bit nervous.
As the game gets going, my three favorite pseudo-podcasters, Gary, Keith, and Ron, picked up right where they left off from last season, sporting their classic spring training SNY polos. As the lineups flash on the screen, the guys talk about all of the new faces on this team, and how they'll fit into the bigger picture. The new name that catches my eye is Travis Jankowski. At 30 years old, Jankowski finds himself on the roster as a minor league invitee. Catching my eye as a Stony Brook University alumnus, Jankowski has bounced back and forth from the majors and minors for the better part of a few years, and has built a reputation largely on his base stealing abilities. Throughout the game, Jankowski has some impressive flashes of physicality, including a nice diving catch in the fourth inning.
Offensively, Jankowski goes 0-2 on the day, but the rest of the roster looks decent at the plate. James McCann hits a nice breaking bat single to get their first run of the day home, and Daniel Palka hits a double to send future (hopefully sooner rather than later) Mets wonder boy Brett Baty and Mark Vientos home. Overall, today shows that a big goal for Buck in Spring Training should be not stranding so many guys on base.
Defensively, there's much more to work on. David Peterson, who hits the bump for the first time since last July, looks a bit shaky. After walking Paul Goldschmidt, and allowing a single from Tyler O'Neill, Peterson does send Arenado to the dugout by making him chase a low slider. However, Peterson is rattled on the next at bat, as Dylan Carlson rockets a four-seam to center field, giving the Cards an early 3-0 lead. In just their second game with a banned shift, the infield let a decent amount of grounders slip right past them, including a Lars Nootbar single that slips past Alonso, allowing Juan Yepez to score and secure the 6-4 St. Louis victory.
With the first weekend of Mets baseball in the books, I've got quite a lot already that I like and dislike about this current roster. I collect my thoughts over some food truck beef souvlaki, and ponder who could stand out in tomorrow's game against the Marlins.