May 17, 2018 – RCT: Mets Try to Survive While Rivals Thrive & Lineup Card Blues for Callaway

By Joe Rini

Mets fans may be excused if they think April 13, 2018 occurred during the
Bill Clinton administration. It’s seems like a long time ago.

A few days before Tax Day, the Mets record stood at a shockingly
franchise best 11-1 atop the NL East. However, seemingly in the time it would
take a diehard fan of the team in Flushing to say, “Am I dreaming? Pinch me,”
the Mets have fallen to a more earthbound 20-18 and fourth place.

Meanwhile, the ½ decade long rebuilding efforts of the division rival
Braves and Phillies have begun to yield victories in Atlanta and Philadelphia as
they sit atop the division in first and second place while the perennial NL East
champion Nationals recovered from a slow start and moved ahead of the Mets in
third place. The Braves have received a boost from contributions by 21-year old
Ozzie Albies (13 homers in 40 games) and 20-year old Ronald Acuna while the
Nationals have benefited from a stellar start by veteran Matt Scherzer and his 7-1

If the sight of the Atlanta Braves in first place doesn’t have Mets fans
reliving (or perhaps “re-suffering”) the late 1990s days of Chipper Jones swinging
a bat like dagger through their hopes, then perhaps the Yankees vaulting
themselves into first place by winning 17 of 18 games a la 1998 may be causing
fans of the Mets to have a sense of, as Yogi Berra would say, “déjà vu all over
again.” What’s next…the “Macarena” topping the charts again?

As for the players, a continued lack of run production and spotty pitching
have been the principal culprits during this month-long tailspin. Perhaps
Tuesday’s 12-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays might be a sign of the
dormant offense arising.

If the Mets do recover their early season swagger, it’ll be without Matt
Harvey as the Mets managed to acquire catcher Devin Mesoraco from the
Cinnicinati Reds in exchange for the former Dark Knight of Gotham. Both Harvey
and Mesoraco are former first round draft picks and All Stars whose careers have
been sidetracked by injuries in recent years. Mesoraco has homered twice in his
four starts as a Met, which is one more homerun than the other four catchers on
the Mets have mustered in 2018.

While Harvey is gone for good, Jacob deGrom is barely back from a
hyper-extended elbow injury (he lasted only one inning in his return start on
Sunday, a 4-2 loss to the Phillies) and Yoenis Cespedes may be gone for a while. Cespedes has played through injuries in 2018 but a MRI on Tuesday
indicated he’s suffering from a hip strain that could land him on the disabled list.

Finally, whereas the Miracle Mets sang “You Gotta Have Heart” on the Ed
Sullivan Show in New York in 1969, perhaps Mickey Callaway and the 2018
team were singing the lineup card blues in Cincinnati on May 9 when a lineup
card mix-up led to Wilmer Flores and Asdrubal Cabrera batting out of order in the
top of the first inning. After Cabrera doubled with two outs, Cincy manager Jim
Riggleman pointed out the mistake to the umpires and Cabrera’s double was

It was the first time a team had batted out of order in a MLB game since
2016 and an embarrassing moment for the rookie manager. However, to his
credit, Callaway didn’t shift blame for the error. “It was an administrative thing I
didn’t take care of,” and he added, “It probably cost us the game,” a 2-1 defeat at
the hands of the Reds.