Buck Showalter wants blood, and the Mets pull through

The Mets did a lot of good things during the long and cold offseason. Picked up Scherzer. Got Escobar, Marte, Canha. Hired Billy Eppler. But no move delighted the base and the club more than picking up Buck Showalter as skipper. This storied vet of the game has built teams into postseason contenders and galvanized players together into a fearsome unit.

So in the Mets’ second game of the season – the second of four in the road opener against the Nats – when pitcher Steve Cishek plunked Francisco Lindor in the jaw, Buck was right there with the Mets out to defend their hurt teammate. If you watched the shot on the beleaguered Apple TV+ broadcast, you would’ve been scared for Lindor. You would’ve been furious at the Nats. After all, Pete Alonso had been hit in the face in the previous game against the Nats, and both he and Lindor had gone down for a good while. If you’re Buck trying to keep this team healthy, you’re gonna lead the charge out of the dugout and start jawing about exactly what the hell the Nationals are trying to do to your team. And that’s exactly what Buck did.

That’s the kind of leadership that galvanizes a team. You can tell that no matter where Buck goes, he cares deeply about what he does. He cares about the game and his players more than the wins and losses. After all, this is a guy who managed the Orioles for a long time, and although the O’s never did too well under his command, you knew they fought with all the fury their little bird wings could muster. This is what Buck wants for the Mets; rebuild the reputation, bring the club together, and help relationships within the team grow so that maybe they can get to the playoffs, if not win a World Series. For the first time in a while, the strategy of the Mets’ skipper is clear and more thought out than “Well, put the guys on the field and see what happens.”

The game besides the on-field scuffle was pretty interesting to watch. Scherzer had a tough go early in the game, giving up three runs to the Nats including a two-run homer to Josh Bell. I wonder if he suffered from the same cold arm that plagued both Gerrit Cole and Nate Eovaldi in the Yankees/Red Sox game earlier in the day. Pitchers who often deal have had a rough time getting started this season. Let’s hope everything warms up for them, especially Scherzer, who demands better from himself.

Besides the three runs though, Scherzer and the Mets defense managed to fend off the Nats. The Mets practiced good hitting and baserunning as well, putting up seven on the board. Jeff McNeil had a homer and an RBI single on his thirtieth birthday. (Welcome to the dirty thirties, Jeff!) Starling Marte had two RBIs – a double and a single – again proving himself as a fine addition to a team that has needed help with wasted RISP. And finally, on a two-run RBI from Robinson Cano, Lindor and Eduardo Escobar zoomed around the bases, showing off the Mets’ improved speed on the field.

The Mets have a chance to win the series as this weekend carries on, and it’ll be interesting to see if Chris Bassitt and Carlos Carrasco can get the job done on the mound. After this series, win or tie, it’s off to Philadelphia for a rivalry series for the ages. Baseball season is officially underway, and the thirst for blood has never been stronger.

Meanwhile:

  • The Padres have really got to stop pulling pitchers during no-hitters. This is the second time in a row they’ve pulled a guy after seven no-hit innings only for the next pitcher on the mound to immediately give up a hit. God, San Diego! These kinds of managerial blunders are what sank you last season after looking like real contenders!
  • What a fun Yankees/Red Sox game. Kept it close and gave fans some free baseball. That’s a fun way to start the season for two teams locked in dead heat (along with the Rays and Jays) for the divisional title.
  • What a way for the White Sox to lose a game to the Tigers. A.J. Pollock thought he made the catch, but Javy Baez and the right field wall at Comerica Park said “Absolutely not.”
  • I will not comment on Apple TV+ broadcasting the Nats/Mets game. It knows what it did. It belongs in Hell.

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