Glove tossing, viral tweets and a whole lot of losing: A look at Mets' month of misery as London Series looms (2024)

  • Glove tossing, viral tweets and a whole lot of losing: A look at Mets' month of misery as London Series looms (1)

    Jorge Castillo, ESPN Staff WriterJun 5, 2024, 07:00 AM ET

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      ESPN baseball reporter. Covered the Washington Wizards from 2014 to 2016 and the Washington Nationals from 2016 to 2018 for The Washington Post before covering the Los Angeles Dodgers and MLB for the Los Angeles Times from 2018 to 2024.

NEW YORK -- Mets luminaries from a bygone era packed a room in the bowels of Citi Field on Saturday afternoon. Most on hand were protagonists during the franchise's last World Series championship in 1986. Doc Gooden, Mookie Wilson, Kevin Mitchell, Jesse Orosco, Ron Darling, Keith Hernandez and others were in attendance to celebrate their former teammate Darryl Strawberry, who sat on the podium for a news conference reminiscing about his eight seasons starring in Flushing.

Strawberry's No. 18 was retired during a pregame ceremony a little later. Mets fans arrived early to watch, filling the stands on a day that will be remembered in this organization's history. It was a timely palate cleanser, on the first day of June, after a month that will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

The Mets are 11-21 since May 1, but the slog has been even uglier lately than that record indicates. The misery really picked up steam on May 13, when All-Star closer Edwin Díaz blew his second save of the season, and over the ensuing weeks the team has been dropping games in every way imaginable.

There was a flurry of bullpen implosions and roster moves. There were injuries, injury setbacks and injury scares. There was a called third strike that went viral, announcers voicing sarcastic optimism on air, a glove angrily thrown into the crowd, an emergency players-only team meeting and a bizarre, misunderstood clubhouse outburst. The frustration leaked onto owner Steve Cohen's X account.

There are encouraging trends within the turmoil, but getting good offense, good pitching and good defense to align on the same day has been rare. The bullpen is leaky. Fielding miscues are too regular. The rotation lacks a front-line starter with Kodai Senga on the injured list.

There is time for the club with MLB's highest payroll to rebound. The chaotic stretch, however, has plunged the Mets into a deep hole, with the third-worst record in the National League, and on track for a trade deadline exodus for the second consecutive summer.

The Mets head to London for two games against the Philadelphia Phillies this weekend. Facing the best team in the National League isn't a recipe for a turnaround, but traveling across the pond might be the change of scenery the team needs to reverse course in a season careening toward disaster.

"They'll continue to fight, they'll continue to work and we'll get through it," Mets first-year manager Carlos Mendoza said. "But it's not a secret. It's been hard for us these past three, four weeks here."

Here's a look back at the lowest moments of that stretch.

Glove tossing, viral tweets and a whole lot of losing: A look at Mets' month of misery as London Series looms (2)

May 13: Díaz melts down, again (and again and again)

Questions about Edwin Díaz's injury comeback begin to mount as he blows his second save of the season, giving up two runs on two hits and two walks in a loss to the Phillies

Díaz, the Mets' closer known for his festive entrances from the bullpen, has endured a nightmarish season so far, after missing all of 2023 with a knee injury sustained at the World Baseball Classic. After the May 13 loss, he would blow another save in his next outing three days later before squandering a four-run lead against the Miami Marlins two days after that. He managed a clean seventh inning in his next appearance after a five-day layoff, but less than 24 hours later, he blew another save in a loss to the San Francisco Giants.

"He's our closer," Mendoza said after the loss to San Francisco. "In order for us to win games and get to where we want to get to, he's got to pitch. And I felt like that was the right spot."

Four days later, Díaz landed on the injured list with a shoulder impingement.

May 15: Cohen's 'DM' debacle

Responding to a fan arguing that the front office should unload players at the trade deadline, Mets owner Steve Cohen tweets, "All in the future, not much we can do until trade deadline," during another Mets loss to the Phillies

Cohen often engages with fans on social media, though this time doing so backfired for the billionaire owner. The post was widely deciphered as Cohen's acknowledgment that the Mets again intend to wave the white flag in July, as they did last year when they traded future Hall of Fame pitchers Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer.

Did Steve Cohen just hint at the Mets selling at the trade deadline?

Cohen later deleted this tweet. pic.twitter.com/rWuav4HJCt

— Foul Territory (@FoulTerritoryTV) May 16, 2024

Cohen quickly deleted the tweet. The next day, he told SNY that the tweet -- which he said was meant to be a direct message -- was misinterpreted. He emphasized he "fully" expects the team to reach the postseason.

Still, nine days later, after another bullpen implosion, Cohen tweeted that the team's disastrous stretch was "mind boggling."

What a stretch , mind boggling .I know how disheartening this is for our fans.Ty for caring so much.

— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) May 25, 2024

"I didn't see it," Mendoza said when asked about the second tweet. "I said it last night: You get pissed. It's frustrating, but we're professionals. We know we're going through it right now, but I just met with our hitters again, we just have to keep going."

May 24: Another setback for Senga

Mendoza announces Kodai Senga will be shut down for three to five days after an MRI revealed inflammation in his triceps

Senga was supposed to be the Mets' ace this season, but he hasn't thrown a pitch yet. The diagnosis came amid his longer-than-expected recovery from a strained posterior shoulder capsule that has sidelined him since February. The Mets expected the right-hander to return before June, but Senga had already made the decision to slow down his rehab -- just as he resumed throwing off a mound -- to work on mechanics. The triceps inflammation reset his throwing program to playing catch upon being cleared.

May 25: Lindor caught looking -- and 'the sun will come up tomorrow'

With one out, a runner on second, and the Mets leading the Giants 2-1 in the seventh inning, shortstop Francisco Lindor decides he's not going to swing and instead takes a breaking ball right down the middle of the plate for strike three

Lindor's early decision not to swing at anything was clear -- so clear that the clip went viral. After the game, Lindor explained he wasn't picking up the spin on reliever Randy Rodríguez's first five pitches. Lindor, however, swung at two of them -- so he simply decided not swinging at all was the best option to reach base.

"He hadn't thrown a strike,'' Lindor said. "I made every pitch a strike, and was helping him out. My best bet was to take a pitch. It just so happened that was the one strike the whole at-bat."

Francisco Lindor just admiring a nice breaking ball pic.twitter.com/H7CFjhpjlb

— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) May 25, 2024

The Mets would lose 7-2 in 10 innings, producing some wry words of encouragement from SNY play-by-play voice Gary Cohen for viewers: "The Mets are now 9-22 in their last 31 games. ... Remember, the sun will come up tomorrow, as difficult as that may be to realize."

"There's losing, and then there's what's happening here. And it's two different things. This is just gut-wrenching." - Ron Darling

"The Mets are now 9-22 in their last 31 games... Remember, the sun will come up tomorrow, as difficult as that may be to realize." - Gary Cohen pic.twitter.com/N6Fw1wUPGy

— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) May 25, 2024

May 29 (Part 1): 'An inflection point'

David Stearns, the Mets' president of baseball operations, tells reporters it is too early to decide whether the team will offload veterans at the trade deadline

The Mets' record was 22-30 ahead of a doubleheader against the Dodgers when Stearns insisted he will give the roster until the July 30 trade deadline to claw back into the postseason race. He acknowledged the Mets "haven't played like a playoff team" but said he believed he had "plenty of time" before weighing trades.

"We haven't won enough games," Stearns said, "and we certainly recognize that that's going to need [to] change."

Stearns, who was hired after the end of the last season, inherited the most expensive payroll in the majors and a team that had massively failed to reach expectations in 2023. He and Cohen pursued free agent Yoshinobu Yamamoto during the offseason, but they settled for several minor moves once Yamamoto chose to sign with the Dodgers.

The offseason didn't include a contract extension for Pete Alonso, making the star first baseman a prime trade candidate and intensifying speculation as the Mets struggle to win games.

"Nothing's changed with Pete's situation," Stearns said. "Our goal is, on a daily basis, [to] help this team succeed as much as possible so we can win as many games as possible. And that's where I expect we'll continue to be."

The Dodgers went on to sweep the doubleheader that night.

May 29 (Part 2): The Mets-less Mount Rushmore

Asked to name his Mount Rushmore of New York athletes, Mets outfielder Harrison Bader names zero Mets and three New York Yankees -- Derek Jeter, Aaron Judge and Anthony Volpe. The fourth spot goes unoccupied

Bader grew up a Yankees fan in Bronxville and spent parts of the past two seasons playing in the Bronx. Still, the Mets are paying him $10.5 million this season. The bit went viral. Fans were not pleased.

Harrison Bader says that his Mount Rushmore of New York athletes includes Derek Jeter, Aaron Judge and Anthony Volpe. pic.twitter.com/OQUsJKg4Zm

— Sam Luckini (@SamLuckiniESM) May 29, 2024

May 29 (Part 3): Injuries, an outburst and a team meeting

Minutes before the first pitch against the Dodgers, the Mets announce Díaz was placed on the injured list with a shoulder impingement. Just as that was being digested, Alonso exits the game after being hit by a 93 mph pitch on his right hand in the first inning. Seven innings later, reliever Jorge López is ejected and throws his glove into the stands. After the loss, Lindor calls a players-only team meeting before López splashes gasoline on the fire, telling reporters he doesn't regret his actions

López's postgame comments caused a stir, both for his unfiltered candor and a subsequent debate over what he actually said in his second language. Speaking in English, the reliever called himself "the worst teammate in probably the whole f---ing MLB," though initially there was confusion over whether he said "teammate" or "team."

"I don't regret it."

- Jorge López on his glove toss pic.twitter.com/NB0cDJ5w0i

— SNY (@SNYtv) May 30, 2024

Either way, the Mets had seen and heard enough, and he was designated for assignment the next day. In a statement released shortly thereafter, López apologized for his behavior "on and off the field" and clarified his comment.

Jorge López posted this statement on Instagram. pic.twitter.com/f2A0TR2FlR

— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) May 30, 2024

His former teammates, meanwhile, were seemingly reenergized after airing out their thoughts and concerns in the team meeting that lasted nearly an hour.

Clubhouse leaders, without offering many details, summarized the meeting to the media, with Lindor explaining he believed it was a chance for players to vent and hold themselves accountable. Brandon Nimmo, who said López's behavior wasn't directly addressed, called it "very constructive" and "positive."

"It just felt like a boiling-over point," Nimmo said. "It felt like the right time to do it."

Reliever Adam Ottavino explained the floor was open to anyone who wanted to speak. He noted most of the team, including players who usually don't openly express themselves, volunteered. They spoke of process and of keeping perspective.

"I mean, we stink right now," Ottavino said. "It doesn't mean we're going to stink going forward."

The good news was tests on Alonso's hand showed no structural damage. He delivered a pinch-hit double in a win over the Arizona Diamondbacks the next night.

May 31: The roster shake-up

The Mets make six roster moves. Brett Baty, Christian Scott and Omar Narváez are sent out. José Iglesias, Dedniel Núñez and Luis Torrens are brought in

Optioning Baty, a former top prospect, to Triple-A Syracuse was largely expected, because the Mets needed a backup middle infielder and rookie Mark Vientos had outperformed Baty for the starting job at third base.

Demoting Scott, one of the team's few bright spots this season, was explained as a temporary move as the team navigates an unusual portion of its schedule thanks to this weekend's trip to London. Acquiring Torrens from the Yankees to replace Narváez was a production-based decision. Narváez was struggling mightily both offensively and defensively.

On the field, the Mets beat the Diamondbacks for the second straight night to open a four-game series. After Friday's 10-9 win, Vientos noted there was a palpable difference in the vibe after the team meeting.

"Completely different," Vientos said. "As in -- we walk in, the room feels light. There's good energy. We listen to music. We're enjoying the game. It's a kid's game. So let's just have fun and play."

Glove tossing, viral tweets and a whole lot of losing: A look at Mets' month of misery as London Series looms (3)

Will June play out better than May did? So far, the results are mixed. The Mets' post-team-meeting winning streak lasted all of two games, giving way to consecutive losses to Arizona to begin the month and conclude their 10-game homestand, including another draining bullpen implosion Sunday.

Still, the Mets will try for a three-game sweep against lowly Washington on Wednesday. After two much-needed days off, the London Series begins Saturday.

"The front office, they're going to make decisions no matter what," Lindor said. "Whether it's to add or subtract. And whether it's to focus on the next season or focus on August and September.

"So they're going to make decisions. I want to be on the side of adding. We don't have 100-plus games for that moment. But we do have time to make sure we're above water."

Glove tossing, viral tweets and a whole lot of losing: A look at Mets' month of misery as London Series looms (2024)

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