By Joseph Rini
With two months remaining in the 2018 season, a sentence with the words “pennant race” and “Mets” would seem to have the same relevance as a sale on 2013 desk calendars.
Yet, there are still 68 games for the Mets to play, many against teams fighting for a postseason berth. With that in mind, I asked manager Mickey Callaway at the postgame press conference after a virtually lifeless 9-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on a hot humid Sunday on July 8, what was the message to his team with one week to play before the All-Star break against two division rivals? One would think a team in the Mets position could’ve been tempted to mentally start their break a week early.
As with any other upcoming series, Callaway said the Mets had to be prepared to play and to put themselves in the best position to succeed. But he acknowledged, “We need to get some momentum going into the All-Star break…take a few days off, come back clicking on all cylinders…and hopefully we’ll have some of our other players back as well.”
Did the Mets generate what the first George Bush called “The Big Mo” during his first presidential campaign in 1980? Unfortunately, it was “no” for Bush in 1980 and “meh” at best for the Mets last week.
They split two four game series against the newly first place Phillies and the perennial first place Nationals. A 4-4 record over the course of a week is middling although an improvement compared to the preceding 11-30 stretch going back to late May. There were dramatic walk-off wins thanks to Wilmer Flores and Brandon Nimmo but the Mets could muster more than seven hits in a game only twice in eight games, they haven’t won a series since May, and Jacob deGrom pitched another eight shutout no-decision innings.
Will the Mets be clicking on all cylinders when the All-Star break ends with a series against the Yankees in the Bronx this weekend? Well, hopefully they’ll click enough cylinders to pull out a modest (maybe even less than modest) 31 wins in 68 games to at least equal last year’s meager 70 wins. A healthy Yoenis Cespedes over the next two months along with a healthy Noah Syndergaard and a not-traded deGrom will at least keep the Mets from fielding a spring training type roster in August and maybe even play respectably.
Is there a bright side? Well, George Bush found “The Big Mo” eight years after 1980 and was elected president in 1988 … hmm, by that reasoning, look out for the 2026 Mets.