Stop me if you've heard this one: It's a long season in baseball, which is another reason it is the best season (and one with more plot twists than "Billions"). You know what a long season really is in baseball? A month.The Red Sox started 17-2 and, through Tuesday night's
Stop me if you've heard this one: It's a long season in baseball, which is another reason it is the best season (and one with more plot twists than "Billions"). You know what a long season really is in baseball? A month.
The Red Sox started 17-2 and, through Tuesday night's loss to the A's, had gone 11-12 over their next 23 games. The Yankees started 9-9, then went on a 17-2 run themselves. The Nationals started 10-14 and proceeded to go 14-4 and started looking like, well, the Nationals, even though Daniel Murphy still hasn't played this season and Adam Eaton is out again.
And then there are the split-personality New York Mets.
The Mets started 12-2 this season. They were as much the big story of March and April as the Red Sox were. It's so long ago that they even liked Matt Harvey then, now the Dark Knight of Cincinnati. Everybody was talking about the Mets and that salt-and-pepper grinding move they were making after they'd come back to win yet another game.
You know what has happened since. They have won eight of their last 25 games -- including a 12-1 drubbing at the hands of Toronto on Wednesday -- and occasionally have been as creative losing as they were winning. That famously included the day in Cincinnati when they not only batted out of order, but did it in the first inning, which felt like a world's record at the time and, for one day, brought them all the way back to their origins, when the great Jimmy Breslin wrote a book about them called "Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?"
Now Harvey is gone. Yoenis Cespedes is back on the disabled list. Todd Frazier, such a big part of their early success, has a strained left hamstring and is on the disabled list himself. Jason Vargas, who was supposed to be an important guy at the back end of their rotation, started the year hurt and then, when he did get healthy, didn't look as if he could get you or me out. And by the way? They lost both of their catchers before the 1st of May.
Frazier -- one of the best citizens of the game, a Jersey kid who once won a Little League World Series and who finally saw his career bring him home to play for both the Yankees and the Mets -- was talking about baseball mood swings on Wednesday morning, and not just on the Mets' side of New York City.
"When a team is going good, everything is great," Frazier said. "You come to the ballpark excited, every single day. You're so excited about the game you won the night before, you can't sleep. You're happy-go-lucky. Like I said: Things aren't just good. They're great.
"Then you go bad. Sometimes you even come right out of the good and into the bad the way we did. And then the world is coming to an end. And then you're realizing all over again why this is the best game to play, and the toughest game to play. You're face to face with the ups and downs and ebbs and flows of the season, and you're realizing all over again -- 'cause you forget when things are going great -- how dramatic those ups and downs and ebbs and flows can be."
Frazier was just getting started. He can really talk. But when he does start talking about baseball, you listen to him. He has always been a very good player, and an even better teammate.
"If you're on a good team coming out of Spring Training, there's always a part of you telling yourself that you've got the best team -- I don't care what anybody says," Frazier said. "Do you think you're going to start out 12-2? You're hoping you are, sure. But you know a start like that is going to be a rarity. Are you totally surprised? No. But even when you're doing it, you know how hard it is to do."
He paused and added, "So we had that start. And then something happened to us. I can't pinpoint what did. I'm not sure anybody could. I remember one year with the White Sox, we started like 20-0 and then we fell off and never could find ourselves after that.
"I honestly don't think that will happen to this team. But you have to admit, a lot has happened to us since we got off to that start. We did lose Matt Harvey. Jacob deGrom hurt his pitching elbow swinging a bat. I'm on the DL. Cespedes is on the DL. We lost both the catchers we left [Spring Training in] Florida with. Those things have to take their toll -- I don't care how good or strong you think your team is."
I asked if he still thinks the Mets are a playoff team.
"One hundred percent," he replied, without hesitation. He may be hurt, but he's still Todd Frazier.
"No doubt in my mind."
I told him we were going to continue this conversation in a month, and asked what kinds of questions I would be asking him then.
"You will be asking me where you can get one of our 'Salt and Pepper' T-shirts."
No one was looking to get a T-shirt on a rainy Wednesday afternoon at Citi Field. After a big offensive game against the Blue Jays the night before, the Mets had one of those games begging for the slaughter rule from Frazier's Little League days. Now they are 8-17 since that 12-2 start, and have fallen to just one game above .500.
A month that has felt as long as a season. You want to know how fast things can change? The Mets are how fast.
Mike Lupica is a columnist for MLB.com.