So I was ready to quietly put this to bed. Look, I knew they would lose. It was just one of those nights where the Mets were flat, and you could tell from the beginning when J.D. Davis got picked off in the first inning. There was something about this team that was in a fog. And hey, it’s understandable considering what they had to go through this past week. If they had just gone down meekly, even without full effort, then it would have been somewhat understandable. Yes, they had a ton of runners left on base, but most of them were left at the feet of Ali Sanchez, making his first major league start. And as wild as Taylor Rogers was in his first major league start, he also brought gas, and it was tough for a guy like Sanchez with his long swing to catch up to. Okay, fine.
But then the 7th inning happened, and it absolutely can’t be excused. Jon Berti drew a walk off Jeurys Familia and stole second. Then after Jesus Aguilar lined out, Berti stole third. Davis was probably playing close to his normal position, but he didn’t even come close to covering the bag, which is embarrassing. His head wasn’t in it in inning one, and it wasn’t in it in inning 14. At which point can we put everything aside and get our heads in the game? Because it can’t be both. Berti was practically doing the Dougie at second base, doing everything except having a neon sign point to his head which says “I’m stealing third”.
Aug 25, 2020; New York City, New York, USA; Miami Marlins third baseman Jon Berti (5) steals third base during the sixth inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field. Berti stole second, third and home base during the inning. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Then, while at third base, he has a healthy lead and Davis is playing back. At that point, not only was I thinking he should steal home, I was starting to type it on social media. “Screw it. it’s 2020. Steal home.” But I couldn’t type fast enough. He stole home, and did it on a toss back to the pitcher which is a heads up play. But Sanchez threw Familia such a lollipop that he made it way too easy to Berti to steal it, and the only reason the play was anywhere close was because Berti slipped. Sanchez is in his first game in the majors. So he didn’t get a hit with runners in scoring position. Fine. But to throw a lollipop back to Familia is way too big of a mental mistake for a guy playing a position where you’re involved in every pitch and then some. Familia’s throw was bad, yes. But Sanchez didn’t give him a chance.
Now, if I’m Luis Rojas, and I have only one chance to make a statement in a post game meeting because the season is only 60 games, this is it. You can lose because you can’t hit. You can lose because you can’t hit with runners in scoring position. But the mental mistakes can’t happen. Not for Davis, who is one of the leaders on this team, and not for Sanchez who is making his first start in the majors. If I’m Rojas I’d say “look, if you guys want to loaf your way through this season because of the circumstances … which everybody is dealing with by the way, then that’s fine. But let me know, and I’ll find players to take the spots that won’t make these mistakes.”
Now Sanchez probably wasn’t playing tomorrow anyway. But as much as I love Davis, if I’m Rojas I bench him tomorrow. Not even to punish Davis, but to show the rest of the team that if you can’t be bothered to have your head in the game, then you can’t play. I say this with a full understanding that baseball isn’t the most important thing going on in the world right now … far from it. I also understand that the Mets have gone through some exceptional circumstances. And I also understand that managers are brought in to rule with a comforting hand rather than an iron fist, and that’s how it should be. But with time running out, it’s the perfect time for Rojas to make a statement. Again, not to punish Davis, but for the rest of the roster. “Okay, we’ve gotten through some circumstances, but we can’t wait any longer for you guys to ease your way into this.”
I don’t think it will happen, but Rojas should at least think about it. Then if it works, great. If it doesn’t, then he can go back to letting the inmates run the asylum while the band plays “Nearer My God To Thee” and we’ll get on with our lives until spring training 2021.
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