The Mets’ free agent moves are fun, but they still need more pitching to avoid another pitfall

The Mets are going for it in 2022. That’s the theme of the offseason so far that has delighted fans with virtual suitcases of cash being handed out to Eduardo Escobar, Mark Canha, Starling Marte, and one of the best pitchers of the last decade Max Scherzer. Mets owner Steve Cohen came to the franchise with the promise that he would spend money to keep New York in the running for the postseason year after year, and these recent moves show that he means business.

However, we still don’t know if the Mets’ big moves will be enough to lift last year’s 77-win team back into the hunt for October. The 2021 Mets also had stars at the top of the roster, but injuries to Jacob deGrom and poor hitting throughout the lineup led a squad that was supposed to win over 90 games falling out of the pennant race in the middle of September.

The sad part was that the Mets fell apart despite the hot hitting of midseason acquisition Javier Baez, who won’t be back in 2022 because he just signed a huge contract with the Detroit Tigers. The middle infielder the Mets did get, Escobar, probably won’t hit as well as Baez, but he’s also likely to cause less drama in the clubhouse. Baez’s choice to direct a thumbs-down gesture to the fans and then explain to the media that he thought paying customers were being too negative caused me and other fans to blow a gasket.

So I’m happy Baez is gone, even though his production might be missed. Besides, his constant swinging and missing in the shortened 2020 season and the first half of 2021 was a bad indication of how Baez might turn out in a long-term deal.

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It’s such a shame that either the Astros or the Braves have to lose the World Series

Both the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves have made it through the gauntlet of Major League Baseball’s postseason and are set to begin the World Series at Minute Maid Park tonight. Many fans have a pretty strong rooting interest in this year’s Fall Classic because of the despicable cheating committed by the Astros during the 2017 season that resulted in them winning the title. Everyone wants to see Houston fail now that the playing field is supposedly even, but since the massive scandal came to light following the 2019 campaign, the Astros have kept on winning. They fell in the ALCS during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, but they’re back in the main event this time around.

I’ve been doing nothing but rooting for more Astros success. Not only would another world championship legitimize the 2017 team as a group that could have reached the pinnacle of baseball without stealing signs, but it would tell all the holier-than-though critics to shove it. That’s right, no one should like cheating, but a lot of the fans who turned into Houston haters overnight seem to be under the assumption that no one else has tried to steal a sign via camera or other shady method.

Based on the career paths of the ringleaders of the trash can scheme, Alex Cora and Carlos Beltran, I’m convinced that at least two other teams were trying out similar systems in their own clubhouses. After winning the World Series with the Astros in 2017, Cora left to manage the Boston Red Sox for the next two seasons before the scandal was still under wraps. Not only were his Red Sox investigated for a similar sign-stealing system, but Cora implied that the Yankees were also up to no good during the 2019 London Series.

Beltran was working as a special advisor for the Yankees at the time in his first baseball role following his playing career, which ended after the 2017 season. It sure seems like the the two big American League East powers were implementing similar sign-stealing systems to the one that brought Cora and Beltran success on the 2017 Astros. And why wouldn’t they? They won in Houston and now found themselves in high-pressure organizations where winning is even more important.

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MJF Crashes Picks Central and Smitty Reacts to Ben Simmons Disaster

We start out with Brandon Walker pointing out how absurd it is for Smitty’s life to revolve around what Ben Simmons says at 76ers practice this afternoon. Smitty says the only acceptable answer is for Simmons to say he will fight and die for the city of Philadelphia, but he’s not expecting that answer. Brandon says that Smitty sets a high bar, but Smitty counters that Allen Iverson has already set the bar. Brandon pisses off Smitty and Ev by talking about how overrated Iverson was. Brandon says that Iverson never won anything and was a selfish player. He didn’t fight and die for Philadelphia; he was only about himself. Smitty doesn’t care because Iverson left everything on the floor every night. Iverson was also a better quarterback than Donovan McNabb. Check his high school highlights.

Yolk’s Take: Saying that Iverson was better than McNabb is a little disrespectful to what McNabb accomplished with the Eagles, but there’s no denying Iverson’s toughness and passion. Plus, it’s easy to say that he’s a ball hog when the closest thing he had to a superstar teammate was Aaron McKie. Even if he didn’t bring home an NBA title, Iverson set the standard for fearlessness and leadership that Philadelphia point guards are expected to emulate. It’s safe to say that Ben Simmons doesn’t fit that mold right now.

Brandon moves the show along and everyone gives their top five NFL teams right now. First, though, Brandon calls out Marty Mush for being on the wrong side of the Bills vs. Titans Monday Night Football game. Brandon says that the Titans were the obvious play. Ev backs up Mush by saying that Mush knew the Bills were a square play, but sometimes you have to be square to win. The guys agree with the Bills going for it on fourth down when they were down by three in the final minute, but Smitty says that the quarterback sneak was the wrong play call. The Bills should have rolled out Josh Allen instead to give him options.

Yolk’s Take: Yeah, I was on the Bills last night. Buffalo had been blowing everyone out and I didn’t think the Titans were a good team. I was right about the defensive side of the ball as Buffalo didn’t have much trouble scoring when they needed to (until the last series). On offense, however, the Titans proved they can be very hard to stop when Derrick Henry and A.J. Brown are playing well. I was fine with Buffalo’s decision to go for the first down at the end, but I would have preferred that the Bills drop Allen back and let him improvise, especially since the sneak had failed earlier in the game. Of course, I was rooting for the field goal, since Buffalo still could have covered with a touchdown in overtime.

Mintzy talks about Henry being underrated as an MVP candidate. Brandon isn’t sure that a running back can win the MVP in today’s NFL. Everyone is amazed that a man Henry’s size can move so fast. Smitty makes a good point about the Titans needing to get Henry more involved in the passing game.


  1. Kyler Murray +300
  2. Josh Allen +500
  3. Dak Prescott +500
  4. Tom Brady +700
  5. Aaron Rodgers +1000
  6. Matthew Stafford +1100
  7. Lamar Jackson +1200
  8. Justin Herbert +1300
  9. Patrick Mahomes +1600
  10. Derrick Henry +2000

Brandon thinks that Murray’s odds will drop once the Cardinals lose a game. Smitty boldly puts Arizona on upset alert if Tyrod Taylor is healthy enough to play against them this weekend. Smitty reacts live to the 76ers suspending Ben Simmons for one game. Smitty believes that the suspension will end up lasting longer than one game, but he wants to know what Simmons’s “conduct detrimental to the team” actually is.

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Barstool Sports shows that even athletes from non-revenue sports can get in on the NIL fun

July 1 marked a day of revolution in collegiate athletics. For the first time, NCAA student-athletes weren’t bound by the inability to receive benefits related to their name, image, and likeness. They’re still not getting paid by the schools they represent, but they can get paid by pretty much anyone else, and that is a great thing for the athletes and the fans that want to see them compensated.

I don’t see a downside right now except for college athletes maybe getting a little too powerful and auctioning off their transfer portal rights to the highest-bidding sponsor. But even that just makes the transfer portal more like free agency in pro sports, so is there that much harm? I think it’s much more exciting that athletes might have an incentive to stay in school instead of bolting for the pro ranks as soon as they possibly can.

That’s not a huge deal in football, where players can’t enter the NFL Draft until they’re three years removed from high school, but basketball could see a whole lot more players staying in school rather than take their chances in the NBA Draft, where only 60 players are selected each year. Just think of all the attention Zion Williamson generated when he was a freshman at Duke. How much can that kind of stardom be monetized? I’m not saying that top NBA prospects like Williamson will opt out of the draft, but there are plenty of hoops stars that aren’t big pro prospects that stand to make a lot of money off of NIL.

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Mets come from behind in Atlanta again, but lose finale on ninth inning blunders

The Mets had a chance to reestablish dominance over the Braves on Thursday night. Atlanta destroyed New York on Wednesday in a 20-2 drubbing that started with a two-run home run by Pete Alonso and ended with 20 straight Atlanta runs and Albert Almora Jr. on the mound for the Mets. Thursday was supposed to be different with Jacob deGrom starting the game and putting an end to the rut that had New York losing three out of four games.

In a way, Thursday was a return to normalcy. deGrom struck out 14 Atlanta batters, including three victimizations of Freddie Freeman and eight in a row at one point. However, a rough first inning allowed the Braves to take an early 3-1 lead that they maintained until the ninth.

Ehire Adrianza led off with a ground-ball triple that barley escaped Pete Alonso’s reach and rolled into the right field corner. Jeff McNeil’s relay throw beat Adrianza to third, but Luis Guillorme whiffed on the tag. Ozzie Albies would single to drive in Adrianza, but the major damage was done when Austin Riley hit a laser beam home run off a 100-mph deGrom fastball.

The Mets’ feeble offense couldn’t get much going against Atlanta starter Ian Anderson, but Dominic Smith homered off him in the seventh and then against off of Will Smith in the ninth to tie the score. It was great to see Smith, who is one of many Mets to see their power disappear in 2021, mash a couple of taters when New York desperately needed them. Now we just need Jeff McNeil, Francisco Lindor, and Michael Conforto — you know, the whole top of the order — to get going and the offense will be all set.

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The Mets are now below zero in run differential and that’s a bad sign

After getting blown out by the Atlanta Braves 20-2 last night, here’s a list of teams in the National League East with a better run differential than the New York Mets.

Washington (+2), Atlanta (+14), and Miami (+21)

Woof. The Mets have now allowed two more runs than they’ve scored in 2021. While that’s not the most accurate measure of a team’s worth (Albert Almora Jr. gave up three of the 20 runs on Wednesday and he’s still a better pitcher than hitters this season), it’s also not a great sign that New York has what it takes to hold off its rivals and finish first in the division.

Atlanta is the East’s three-time defending champion with two of the best hitters in the world. They have been lurking all season and you figure they have to make a run at some point. Hopefully last night’s outburst wasn’t a sign of things to come, but the Braves have the talent to score lots of runs.

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Even with this rag-tag lineup, the Mets losing to the Rockies is an unpleasant surprise

It happened to me again today. A Yankees fan asked me why I wasn’t ecstatic to be a Mets fan when my team was in first place. Uh… maybe because there’s more talent on the injured list than on the field and the team just dropped two of three in Miami before coming home and getting shut down by something called Austin Gomber in a 3-2 loss to the Rockies.

To be fair, Gomber was coming off of back-to-back solid starts against San Diego, but it was still a tough look for the Mets to drop one to the Rockies since they came in with a 2-17 road record and an offense that didn’t perform away from Coors Field. David Peterson was serving up the home run ball, though. Ryan McMahon and Elias Diaz both hit solo home runs in the second inning. In the fourth, Garrett Hampson tripled off the wall in center field to drive in the last run Colorado would need.

Mets center fielder Johneshwy Fargas crashed into the outfield wall and injured his shoulder on that play, leading to the despondent reaction from Francisco Lindor. It’s another injury for a Mets team whose fans are still coping with see Cameron Maybin in the lineup every day.

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The Knicks have a Trae Young problem, and other takeaways from the first weekend of the NBA Playoffs

We’re one game into the NBA Playoffs for the New York Knicks and the MSG faithful did NOT go home happy, but it did feel good to have that do-or-die feeling back the veins of the fans and in the atmosphere of the World’s Most Famous Arena. Plus, we already found our new Reggie Miller.

It’s safe to say that Trae Young thrives off being hated by Knicks fans just like Miller did. In his playoff debut, the Oklahoma product went 11-for-23 from the field with 32 points, including the game-winning floater with one second remaining, as well as 10 assists and just two turnovers. Even when the Knicks knew he was taking the shot, they couldn’t contain him, as he skated right around Frank Ntilikina and Taj Gibson on that final possession to give Atlanta the 107-105 Game 1 victory. Young is going to be a PROBLEM, as the kids say.

The Knicks did pretty well considering how badly Young outplayed Julius Randle. New York’s superstar scored just 15 points on 6-for-23 shooting. He did clutch up for a big three-point shot late, but for the most part it was up to Alec Burks and Derrick Rose to carry the offense on Sunday night. If Randle steps up and the Knicks find a way to make life a little harder for Young, New York will have revenge in Game 2. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until Wednesday for that revenge thanks to the NBA’s revenue-maximizing playoff schedule.

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The banged-up Mets grind out another win and the White Sox have a Tony La Russa problem

The Mets started backup players in the five through nine spots in the order and used only relief pitchers on the mound Tuesday night, but they still came away with a 4-3 victory over Atlanta, their second in a row. What a win. The Braves got a solid performance from rookie southpaw Tucker Davidson and came from behind to overcome a 3-1 deficit, but the Mets refused to go away and they pulled ahead for good on Tomas Nido’s ninth-inning solo shot off of Will Smith.

Momentum was headed in the wrong direction after Marcell Ozuna dunked a two-out RBI single into right field during the bottom of the eighth, but Nido’s blast reversed all of that and allowed Edwin Diaz to close the door with three straight outs in the ninth. The Braves could have scored more in the eighth, but Francisco Lindor made a terrific defensive play on a ground ball by Freddie Freeman into the shift after the first two Braves reached base.

With the shift taking the force at second off the table, Lindor had to tag the speedy Ronald Acuna and still throw over to first to get the double play. Given the situation, it was the best play he’s made for the Mets so far on offense or defense.

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Mets lose more key players to injury, somehow defeat Braves in series opener

The Mets beat the Braves 3-1 last night in Atlanta. What did it cost? In the words of Thanos, “Kevin Pillar’s nose.” The surprisingly useful outfielder took a fastball from Atlanta reliever Jacob Webb directly to the face in the top of the seventh inning. That resulted in Pillar’s nose being bloodied, but also a run for the Mets because the bases were loaded when it happened.

Even better is that Pillar is apparently okay despite suffering multiple nasal fractures. Hopefully he recovers quickly because the Mets’ outfield now consists of Johneshwy Fargas and Khalil Lee, both of whom made their big league debuts last night, as well as Dominic Smith. That’s it.

Pillar wasn’t even the only new injury for the Mets, though. Taijuan Walker left the game after just three innings due to an issue with his left side. Fortunately, the MRI came back clean, but he could still miss a turn in the rotation, which would put even more stress on New York’s bullpen. Sean Reid-Foley was the hero of the game for the Mets, as he came into the game on short notice and threw three perfect innings with five strikeouts to keep Atlanta at bay until the Mets finally broke through in the seventh.

Nido led off the frame with a double and then was doubled home by James McCann, who pinch-hit for Reid-Foley. That’s not exactly where you plan for the offense to come from, but the Mets will need to continue getting production from surprising places with all the backups in the lineup these days.

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