Yellow Star
Yellow Star

Will things be different for the Mets this time? 

On June 16, 2021, the Mets beat the Cubs and went 11 games over.500. 

hey led the NL East by 5 1/2 games, the only team living up to expectations in a confused division.

Jacob deGrom suffered shoulder pain throughout that game.The rest is history. The Mets fell back, while the Braves overhauled their outfield.

Mets finished third in division at 77-85, then fired manager Luis Rojas and acting GM Zack Scott after a DUI arrest (on which he was later found not guilty). World Series champions.

The Mets are again holding to first place while the Braves close in. This team is unique.

They are 18 games over.500, the best record in the NL, rather than division leaders. They've done this without deGrom pitching and without Max Scherzer for a month.

Buck Showalter is their manager, a change that has made the 2022 Mets feel capable.

With the Mets and the NL East, a stress test was inevitable. Since June 1, the Mets are 7-6 while the Braves are 14-1. A 10.5-game advantage is now four.

Summers past loom. Will the Mets lose to The Freeze (again), or is this club different?

MLB's old managers had a rough year. Joe Girardi and Joe Maddon were sacked from their shoddy starships, and Tony La Russa's Chicago White Sox have fallen sufficiently that fans called for him to be removed.

Showalter hadn't managed since 2018, yet his grounded seriousness and attention to detail have been praised.

The Mets needed a steady hand more than any team. Under Mickey Callaway and Rojas, this club was chaotic for four seasons. 

Much of Showalter's success has little to do with how he manages the squad. 

He provides relief that previous managers didn't by becoming conspicuous. Like a grandfatherly lightning rod, he absorbs or deflects extraneous energy directed at the team.

The Mets may not humiliate themselves if they miss the playoffs again. Unfortunately, that's progress. Not quite.

Mets owner Steve Cohen and fans hope to play in October. Attributing a team's performance to a management or forecasting its future success is a fool's errand in 2022.

 In modern baseball, front offices, not managers, stack the deck. Their task is to keep watch and avoid playing a crucial card in a crisis. Assure stability.

Showalter may have changed that, too.