With the signing of Hall of Fame-bound Max Scherzer, the New York Mets have done more than acquire an ace starting pitcher, solidify their rotation and fill the void left by Noah Syndegaard.
In one decisive move, the Mets also took back the city from the rival Yankees. Make no mistake. New York is now a Mets town, to the chagrin of the Bronx Bombers’ management and the horror of the franchise’s haughty fan base. On WFAN, the local all-sports radio station and the heartbeat of baseball, football, basketball and ice hockey in this town, the callers have been obsessed with all things Scherzer – his gargantuan contract, his bulldog mentality, his leadership skills in the clubhouse and on the field and how he will fit in in New York.
Our city, ahem, has been known to chew up and spit out sports stars.
Scherzer sounded all the right tones in his introductory press conference. He shrugged off the talk of how much more pressure there is in New York than, say, Detroit or Washington, two of his previous residences.
Scherzer properly said it was a “privilege” to play in New York. With that fawning, strategic statement, you might say that Mighty Max just earned his first win in a Mets uniform.
In New York, money talks. This is a snobby town. Admit it. You measure your self-worth by how much you can brag about how big your apartment is, how exclusive and pricey your kid’s private school is and the size of your paycheck.
So, Mets fans were kvelling about how their team made a splash – the biggest splash of the off-season, in fact. Meanwhile, astonishingly, the Yankees’ management – which had luxuriated for more than four decades in its reputation for wooing the most coveted and expensive free agents on the marketplace – seemed to suffer from an acute case of paralysis by analysis. So far, at least.
Now, for the eye-popping numbers: The Mets signed Scherzer to a three-year, $130 million deal, instantly making him the highest paid player in the major leagues, on a per-year basis.
So what? It’s only money, right? Chump change to Mets owner Steve Cohen. Forbes magazine estimated in 2016 that Cohen is worth roughly $13 billion, making him the 30th richest person in the United States.
Cohen, who grew up in the New York area as a diehard Mets fan, bought the team from the Wilpon family, which had to live down the fans’ incessant grumbling that the Wilpons didn’t have the will or the means to compete with free-spending franchises like the Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Cohen is the wealthiest owner in the major leagues, so what does he care about paying Scherzer those big bucks?
Mets fans, quite possibly the most neurotic fan base in all of pro sports, are pinching themselves about catching the biggest fish in the ocean. Serious Mets fans seem to care more about thwarting the despised Yankees than anything else. They now chortle about how, all of a sudden, Yankee pitcher Gerrit Cole, who two years ago signed a nine-year, $324 million deal, now looks like an afterthought in New York City.
The 2022 Season
Major League Baseball has just announced a lockout, which imperils the start of the 2022 season.
Of course, this is par for the course for the legions of neurotic Mets fans. Just when they get their man and find themselves looking down on the Yankees, the music stops and they stop laying ball for a while.
The Mets can wait. Scherzer is a healthy 37 years old, by all accounts. He will make fans forget about the unpleasant departure of veteran pitcher “Thor” Syndegaard, who now toils in Anaheim.
Mets fans will remember that such stars as Pedro Martinez and Johan Santana were supposed to pitch the Mets to a championship in bygone years – but didn’t. Can Scherzer lead the team to the promised land?
So much hype! So much hope! So much promise.
Mets fans have dreamed of this day for years. They think, This is our time. We can puff our chests out as baseball fans in New York.
All of this excitement over a team that still doesn’t have a manager on the squad. Now, all the Mets have to do is sign up a new manager!