Sad MetsJohn Cordes/Icon SportswireAs the Mets watch their season spiral out of control, the players can only wonder where they might be traded.

The New York Mets were already buried deep in the standings before their four-game series at Dodger Stadium this week, but the Dodgers exposed just how far New York is from being a good team.

L.A. outscored the Mets by a cumulative 25 runs in the series, and the Dodgers hit more homers (15) over the four games than the Mets scored runs (11). When the Mets sparred with Yasiel Puig over the length of time required for him to circle the bases on Tuesday, part of Wilmer Flores' explanation was about the context of Puig’s celebration. "We're playing horrible, I know. But we don’t need this s---."

The front office's decision to sell off older parts of the team’s engine for whatever value can be extracted is an acknowledgment of reality. According to FanGraphs, the Mets’ chances to make the playoffs on Sunday morning stood at 6.4 percent, a number that does not reflect the additional injuries that will beset this team in August and September because, well, they’re the Mets.

By planting the "For Sale" signs over their team now, the Mets are trying to get a jump on a market that has just a few sellers at the moment. The White Sox and Padres have been open for business, the Marlins began working to dump the salaries of the likes of David Phelps and Adeiny Hechavarria earlier this week, and shortly after the news broke of the Mets’ intention to sell, Tigers general manager Al Avila offered a similar pronouncement -- that he’s ready to take offers. Detroit is just 7 games out of a wild-card spot but has been playing terribly.

Mets reliever Addison Reed is probably the most attractive of the team’s tradable assets, because of all that he provides: He’s experienced with 369 big league games, he has the ability to close games, he’s pitching effectively now, he’s effective against right-handed hitters and lefties, and he doesn’t have an obtrusive contract, with about $4 million remaining on a deal that expires at the end of the season.

As written here last week, it could be a difficult summer for teams attempting to market position players -- like the Mets, now -- because so many of the contenders don’t have need in that area. The Dodgers, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Astros and Cubs would probably prioritize pitching, and the holes of some contenders are very particular -- third base for the Red Sox, perhaps, and maybe first base for the Yankees, if Greg Bird doesn’t show progress from his prolonged absence over the next few weeks.

But the Mets have proven commodities. Jay Bruce is probably an All-Star candidate in a year in which he’s hit 19 homers and built an OPS of almost .900. The 36-year-old Curtis Granderson, a streaky and greatly respected veteran less than two years from a spectacular performance in the 2015 playoffs, could draw interest, although the Mets will almost certainly have to pay down a lot of his remaining salary (about $8 million), especially in a buyers’ market. Asdrubal Cabrera said Friday that he wants out, after being asked to play second base, but some rival evaluators say Cabrera’s athleticism has abandoned him, and he turns 32 this fall.

Lucas Duda's power could make him an option to a club like the Yankees, but his injury history is daunting. Neil Walker is expected to be out until the All-Star break with a hamstring injury, and it isn’t until then that teams can seriously evaluate him as a trade option. In 60 games this season, he has batted .270/.352/.468, but he’s making $17.2 million this year after accepting the qualifying offer, and there may be more sellers in the second-base market than buyers. Although Walker might make an intriguing possibility for a team seeking first-base help.

What lies ahead for the Mets may well turn out to be a quick retooling rather than a rebuild, and with just a little good fortune, they could be back in the playoff hunt in 2018. They could go into next season with a nice core of players: starting pitchers Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo; outfielders Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes, who could fill the No. 3 and No. 4 spots in the lineup; top shortstop prospect Amed Rosario, who could be summoned in the last weeks of this season before taking over the position for years to come; and first baseman Dominic Smith, if the Mets deem him to be ready to be called up as well. If the Mets don’t trade lefty Jerry Blevins and choose instead to pick up the left-hander’s option for 2018 -- the most likely scenario -- then he could complement Jeurys Familia, who will be returning from injury.

The Mets also should have a lot of payroll flexibility as veterans like Granderson depart, which would give them the money to address possible holes at second base, center field and the bullpen. Terry Collins' contract is set to expire in the fall and the only real question seems to be whether he leaves on his own terms or the Mets usher him out the door at the end of what has been a successful run as manager.

One of the more complicated decisions ahead for the Mets is what to do with Matt Harvey. If they remain tethered to what might be possible, they could hold him through the rest of this season and hope that he devotes himself to re-establishing his greatness. "I bet that’s what happens," said an MLB manager recently. "He’s a free agent in the fall, and he’ll work like hell in the offseason and have a great year."

But given the Mets’ working knowledge of Harvey, his off-field habits and his declining performance, nobody would blame the front office if it chose to turn the page and dump Harvey in a trade or perhaps even decline to tender him a contract in the fall. Harvey has made a total of 59 starts since the end of the 2013 season, and over the last two years, he’s thrown 162 ⅓ innings, allowing 178 hits and 24 homers, and he has a 5.05 ERA and accumulated just 130 strikeouts. His velocity is diminished, although a lot of evaluators believe he can make do with 92-93 mph, if not necessarily dominate.

The Mets are well-stocked in starting pitching, so they aren’t desperately clinging to Harvey. In fact, they know that one way or another -- even if he rebounds -- he will be with another team in 2019, at the latest.

Around the league

  • The St. Louis Cardinals are hanging at the edge of the playoff races, five games behind the Brewers in the NL Central with the two NL wild-card spots probably out of reach. If the Cardinals decide to focus on 2018 and join the list of sellers, they would be like the Giants in that they don’t necessarily have a lot of attractive pieces to move. One player with whom they would have some leverage might be infielder Jedd Gyorko, who is having a really good season, hitting .291, with an .850 OPS. He also has improved markedly on defense: The only third baseman with more defensive runs saved (DRS) than Gyorko this year is Nolan Arenado.

    Gyorko is making $6 million this year, $9 million next year and $13 million in 2019, with a $13 million club option for 2020, but $7.5 million of that guaranteed money for 2017-19 is being paid by the Padres. The Cardinals might now view the 28-year-old Gyorko as a very affordable part of their solution moving forward, but his trade value is probably close to peak right now, and he might be someone coveted by the Red Sox or Yankees -- teams that have good prospects to offer. Some of the Gyorko discussion could eventually be tied to Aledmys Diaz, who has been the Cardinals’ shortstop this year. Some rival evaluators don’t see him as an everyday player at that position -- he ranks last among shortstops in DRS -- and if the St. Louis front office shares that view, then the Cardinals would have to move Diaz to either another spot, or another team.

  • With J.T. Riddle fully established as the Marlins' shortstop of the future, Miami has been looking to dump shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, a strong defender who has never posted an OPS of .700 in any of his six seasons. He makes $4.35 million this year, and some rival evaluators believe that he will be a strong non-tender candidate in the fall.

    The Orioles were among the teams that the Marlins spoke with about Hechavarria, and in theory, there could be a fit because Baltimore shortstop J.J. Hardy just suffered a broken bone and is expected to miss at least a month. But the perception of the Marlins is that, in order for a trade to work for Baltimore, the Orioles would have to shed a comparable salary in the deal. Translated: Baltimore doesn’t currently have payroll flexibility.

  • Joey Votto began Saturday’s game ranked seventh in MLB in lowest strikeout percentage (11.0), and seventh in MLB in slugging percentage (.595). Think about that.

Baseball Tonight Podcast

On the podcast this week:

Friday: Karl Ravech and Justin Havens discuss the preeminence of the NL West teams, and Aaron Judge’s hesitation over the Home Run Derby; Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald talks about the Marlins’ midseason sell-off and the sale of the team; Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star evaluates the surge of the Royals and why they probably won’t sell.

Thursday: Jerry Crasnick talks about the Braves’ rationale in considering a move of Freddie Freeman to first base; A.J. Hinch speaks with Jessica Mendoza about the philosophy of defensive shifts, particularly against right-handed hitters; and Negro Leagues Museum president Bob Kendrick shares news about the newly formed alliance with the players' association and MLB, his favorite piece of memorabilia, and a great Hank Aaron story.

Wednesday: Tim Kurkjian; Jessica Mendoza has stories about George Springer, Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia and Alex Bregman; and MASN’s Roch Kubatko talks about the plans of the Orioles.

Tuesday: Keith Law; Marly Rivera evaluates the Gleyber Torres injury and its impact on the Yankees; Sarah Langs of ESPN Research plays the Numbers Game.

Monday: Boog Sciambi has strong feelings about the way closers are held back until the ninth inning; Jim Kaat talks about the pace of action, a pitch clock and shares a tremendous Sandy Koufax story from the 1965 World Series; Todd Radom’s uniform and logo quiz, and the 14th-best logo of all time.

And today will be better than yesterday.

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Tied at 1-1 in the eighth, Jay Bruce sends home the Mets' go-ahead run with his 49th RBI on the season.

Not easy to pick a side in Asdrubal Cabrera's rift with Mets

June, 24, 2017
Jun 24
7:47
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Jason O. Watson/Getty ImagesOne of Asdrubal Cabrera's complaints was that he was not given an opportunity to practice at second base during his rehab assignment.

Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse for the New York Mets, Asdrubal Cabrera dropped a bombshell, showing how frail the Amazin's clubhouse actually is, and how close it is to total collapse.

Cabrera returned from the disabled list Friday, and manager Terry Collins welcomed him with the news that he would no longer be the team's starting shortstop and would be moved to second base.

Veteran Jose Reyes played shortstop during Cabrera's DL stint and will remain there at least until prospect Amed Rosario is fully ready.

Cabrera's response to Collins' decision was to demand to be traded, which ruffled more than a few feathers inside the Mets clubhouse.

Each party is a bit right in this feud. At age 31, Cabrera is struggling through one of the worst seasons of his career, and it is not clear if this is just a long slump or if we are seeing the twilight of Cabrera's playing days.

Defensively speaking, Cabrera's numbers put him among the league's worst shortstops, with 11 errors in 171 throws, resulting in an awful fielding average of .936.

Among all shortstops in the majors, only young and inexperienced guys such as the Braves' Dansby Swanson (12) and White Sox infielder Tim Anderson (17) have committed more errors than Cabrera. But, to be fair, the rookies have had more chances than Cabrera, therefore, their fielder percentages (.962 and .935, respectively) are not worse than Cabrera's.

When it comes to advanced stats, Cabrera has minus-9 runs saved, making the case against him stronger.

On offense, he has been average so far (six home runs and 20 RBIs in 51 games), on par with his usual numbers, which are hardly extraordinary.

With such conditions, it won't be easy to find a new team for Cabrera that will guarantee him a spot as a starting shortstop.

In all fairness, however, the Mets' ways of dealing with Cabrera's struggles weren't right at all.

According to Cabrera's recollection, Collins informed him of the switch just as he came back from the DL, without any previous notice.

Cabrera noted that he should have been given time to prepare for the move during his rehabilitation assignment.

The player took this as a sign that the Mets are not counting him in their future plans and that they will not exercise the one-year, $8 million option they have on Cabrera for 2018.

Cabrera isn't the first player, nor will he be the last, to feel uneasy about being switched from the position he has played in for the majority of his career, the one where he feels most comfortable.

But he isn't being demoted to the bench. He would remain an everyday player in the majors, something that is a dream for many.

A drastic and radical decision, such as a trade demand, is something that should not be made while angry. Instead, it should be the result of reasoning with a calm mind, after a long chat with your agent, and only after studying the market and understanding the actual demand for a player of your skills and abilities, resulting in landing the job you really want.

However, what's done is done. Now the bridges between Cabrera and the Mets are torn apart, possibly forever.

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Yoenis Cespedes sends a high drive to left field and over the wall to add to the Mets' lead over the Giants in the second inning.
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Veteran shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera said Friday that he has requested a trade from the New York Mets, a decision he made after the team asked him to move to second base.

Cabrera, 31, was activated from the 10-day disabled list Friday and went 3-for-6 in an 11-4 win over the San Francisco Giants. He hit second in the lineup and made his first start at second base since Sept. 28, 2014.

"Personally, I'm not really happy with that move," Cabrera told reporters after meeting with manager Terry Collins and general manager Sandy Alderson before Friday's game, according to MLB.com. "If they have that plan, they should have told me before I came over here. I just told my agent about it. If they have that plan for me, I think it's time to make a move.

"What I saw the last couple of weeks, I don't think they have any plans for me. I told my agent, so we're going to see what happens in the next couple weeks."

Jose Reyes remained at shortstop for New York and went 0-for-3, dropping his batting average this season to .191. Regular Mets second baseman Neil Walker is expected to miss several weeks because of a hamstring tear.

New York snapped a four-game losing streak Friday night but has won just two of its past nine games.

Collins said afterward that he decided to move Cabrera to second because the Mets' struggling defense needed to "shore up" that side of the field.


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Curtis GrandersonAP PhotoCurtis Granderson is one of several Mets players that the team could look to deal.

With the New York Mets sitting in fourth place and 12 games behind the Washington Nationals in the NL East, it appears the team is ready to unload veteran pieces off its roster as the trade deadline approaches.

According to ESPN's Buster Olney, the Mets are "open for business now," which includes listening to offers for outfielder Curtis Granderson, acting closer Addison Reed, outfielder Jay Bruce and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.

All four players have contracts that will expire after the 2017 season. In addition to the group above, Jose Reyes, Lucas Duda and Fernando Salas are several other players who could test free agency at the end of the year.

The Mets have lost seven of their last eight games, including a four-game sweep by the Los Angeles Dodgers this week.

--Isaac Chipps

Getty ImagesMets Opening Day shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera is expected to be activated from the disabled list on Friday.

Asdrubal Cabrera could have a different vantage point when the New York Mets activate the veteran infielder from the disabled list in time for Friday's game against the Giants.

Manager Terry Collins told reporters, including Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, that he is considering moving Cabrera, his Opening Day shortstop, to second base. Collins added he could change his mind and instead ask Jose Reyes to make the move.

Cabrera, who has previous experience at second base with Cleveland and Washington, has had a difficult season at shortstop with minus-9 defensive runs saved. Reyes took over at short after Cabrera went on the DL with a thumb injury on June 13.

Regular second baseman Neil Walker suffered a partially torn hamstring on June 14 and is not expected back until at least the All-Star break.

No matter who lands at second base, DiComo reports the Mets are still not close to promoting shortstop Amed Rosario, their top prospect.

-- Doug Mittler

Yasiel Puig riled the struggling New York Mets with a long look at his three-run homer Wednesday night in the Los Angeles Dodgers' 8-2 win, which put them into the sole lead of the National League West.

Puig posed at home plate and watched his fourth-inning drive off rookie Tyler Pill, irritating Mets first baseman Wilmer Flores, who apparently said something to Puig as the Cuban slugger rounded the bag.

Puig looked back at Flores as he was trotting toward second and cursed at him, Flores said.

"I don't think he knows what having respect for the game is," Flores said. "We're playing horrible right now. We don't need his [behavior]. He disrespected us."

Between innings, Mets veteran Jose Reyes and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, also from Cuba, spoke with Puig on the field.

"I think there's a way to enjoy a home run," Flores said. "That was too much."

Puig told reporters he didn't see anything wrong with the home run trot and said Flores was overreacting.

"If that's the way he feels, it might be a result of them not playing so well," Puig said.

Puig said Cespedes told him he needed to run harder but that he disagreed with that assessment.

For his part, Cespedes declined to discuss the talk he had with his fellow Cuban, saying it "was a personal conversation."

It's far from the first time Puig has annoyed opponents with his antics, but there was no obvious attempt at retaliation from the Mets.

The incident comes a week after Puig was suspended one game by Major League Baseball for making an obscene gesture to Indians


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Yaisel Puig explains what Mets players were saying to him while he was rounding the bases after he hit a home run.

NEW YORK -- Pete Flynn, a popular groundskeeper for the New York Mets who spent five decades manicuring baseball diamonds from the Polo Grounds to Citi Field, died on Wednesday. He was 79.

The team said Flynn died after a long illness. No other details were provided.

Easily recognizable with his fire-red hair and beard, Flynn was an original Met who began his tenure with the team during New York's inaugural season in 1962 at the old Polo Grounds. He was the head groundskeeper at Shea Stadium from 1974-2001 and remained on the grounds crew until retiring in 2011, two years after the Mets moved into Citi Field.

Flynn was inducted into Major League Baseball's Groundskeeping Hall of Fame in 2015 and honored with the Mets Hall of Fame Achievement Award in 2012.

He also was the groundskeeper for the New York Jets when they hosted NFL games at Shea Stadium from 1964-83, and undoubtedly was the busiest man in the business in 1975 when the Mets, Yankees, Jets and Giants all played home games at Shea.

"Pete helped make our fields one of the best in baseball," Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said in a statement. "He took such pride in his work and was a pro's pro. Tom Seaver always said Shea Stadium's mound had no equal. That's a pretty good endorsement."

One of Flynn's most charming memories was of driving The Beatles on the field in front of 55,000 screaming fans for their famous concert at Shea Stadium in 1965. In his distinctive Irish brogue, Flynn even reminded Paul McCartney of that ride when the former band member and rock `n' roll icon returned to play on stage with Billy Joel during his last concert at Shea in 2008.

---

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball


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LOS ANGELES -- The New York Mets have put right-hander Zack Wheeler on the 10-day disabled list because of biceps tendinitis, the third member of their rotation to currently be out of action.

The Mets made the move before playing at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday night. Righty Tyler Pill was promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas to start against Los Angeles.

The Mets also called up righty Erik Goeddel and optioned infielder Matt Reynolds to Triple-A.

Wheeler's move was retroactive to Tuesday, a day after he was hit hard in a loss to the Dodgers. He is 3-5 with a 5.29 ERA in 13 starts.

Wheeler joined starters Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey on the DL. Closer Jeurys Familia, shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, second baseman Neil Walker, outfielder Juan Lagares and third baseman David Wright are also currently sidelined for the Mets.


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CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Charleston RiverDogs general manager Dave Echols has apologized to those offended by the team poking fun at Columbia outfielder Tim Tebow last weekend.

On Friday, in the first game for Tebow and the Fireflies in Charleston, the RiverDogs -- who list comedian Bill Murray as co-owner -- took several jabs at the Heisman Trophy winner, who is playing his first full season of pro baseball. The RiverDogs mascot wore eye black with the Bible verse John 3:16, like Tebow did when he played quarterback for the Florida Gators.

There were more playful digs, as well, such as putting "Not Tim Tebow" under Columbia players' pictures on the scoreboard during the announcement of the Fireflies' starting lineups.

Echols said in a statement to the Post and Courier newspaper in Charleston that the promotions were meant to play off Tebow's celebrity.

"While we believe that our promotions were poking fun at Mr. Tebow's celebrity status rather than his religion or baseball career, our intent was not to offend anyone, and for the fact that we did offend, we are sorry," Echols wrote in the statement. 

"Of the many promotional pieces that we executed, there were a handful on Friday's game that some construed as in poor taste, and we made it a focus to remove those elements and celebrate Mr. Tebow the remainder of his time in Charleston." 

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.


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C'mon. Really?

Mets fans, if you think this latest edition of "Must Endure The Suffering" (the way I’ve always identified this franchise) is the most embarrassing time to be a Mets fan, then how soon you've forgotten your past.

When you're a Mets fan, you build up a reservoir of patience. These aren't the Yankees with their 27 rings, their lofty payrolls and grand tradition. These are the Mets. There's the potential for greatness and the potential for anguish.

Must I remind you of the latter?

Witnesses to the latest MetastropheFrank Franklin II/APThink 2017 has been disappointing? It's nothing Mets fans haven't seen before.

In the beginning ...

Congratulate any Mets fan you know who is in their 60s. They lived through the worst of the worst, the "Can't anybody here play this game?" 1962 expansion team. That's the 40-120 team -- one best remembered for having its players get stuck in a hotel elevator on the way to the first game and whose most remembered player -- Marv Throneberry -- once hit a triple, but was called out because he didn't touch first base (he missed second, too).

The Mets were both lovable (because they had former Yankees skipper Casey Stengel managing them) and laughingstock (most of the rest of them, but I say that in the nicest way). The Mets averaged 113 losses those first four seasons.

Bad deals

The Mets of the late 1960s and early 1970s were a memorable bunch. The Amazin's won the World Series in 1969 and the Ya Gotta Believe team came within a game of doing so in 1973.

But that doesn't mean they were perfect. Their management made a few bad trades. OK, really, really bad trades -- especially the one that sent Nolan Ryan to the Angels for Jim Fregosi and three others. The Mets thought Fregosi, who had played about 1,400 games at shortstop in his career, could be easily converted to third base. Not quite.

But that hasn't stopped the Mets from trying many such moves since then, such as trying to make catcher Todd Hundley a left fielder, catcher Mike Piazza a first baseman or young shortstop Jose Reyes a second baseman.

Tom Terrific, Mets horrific

Speaking of trades, the punishment to those who grew up during the Seaver years is the spring of 1977 when "The Franchise" got flustered, both by a contract that left him underpaid in the new era of free agency and an ownership that outright refused to dabble in this new form of player acquisition. This led to sniping between Seaver and team president M. Donald Grant, who used his relationship with newspaper columnist Dick Young to attack Seaver through the media.

On June 15, 1977, the Mets traded Seaver to the Reds, a mistake from which it took years to recover. Other than a few brief weeks of excitement in 1980 and at the end of the 1981 strike-shortened season, being a Mets fan from 1977 to 1983 was miserable. Their winning percentage in that span was that of a 65-win team. They scored the fewest runs and had the lowest OPS of any team. The 1980 team hit 61 home runs ... for the season. No wonder they had games in which fewer than 2,000 fans showed up.

Simply put, the Mets were dreadful to watch. They couldn't even bring Seaver back right. He was reacquired in a trade and returned for the 1983 season ... only to be lost to the White Sox in the free-agent compensation draft that offseason.

Bobby B ... ugh

If you've ridden the wave of Mets fandom, you know that you lived a charmed existence from 1984 to 1990, though you probably rue that the team won only one title, because there was the potential for much more. Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry were supposed to be Hall of Famers, but Gooden dealt with drug issues and being overworked early in his career. Strawberry left for Los Angeles as his career hit its prime years, though he, too, would be taken down by drug and alcohol issues.

After the best of times came the worst of times. The 1991 season was bad, beyond Gregg Jefferies writing to fans to complain about how he was being treated by teammates. The 1992 "Worst team money could buy" season was worse. The 1993 season was horrific, as the Mets went 59-103 and were only that good because they somehow won their last six games.

This era is remembered for bleach spraying (at reporters), firecracker throwing (at fans) and a sexual assault investigation (no charges were filed).

The team's prized acquisition, Bobby Bonilla, once threatened a reporter with "I'll show you the Bronx" and called the press box during a game to complain about an error call (and oh by the way, the Mets will be paying him more than a million dollars a year through 2035).

Generation K -- Paul Wilson, Bill Pulsipher and Jason Isringhausen -- was supposed to be the pitching staff of the future. Instead, it was Generation KO, done in by injuries and other issues.

The best-remembered stat of the time: Anthony Young's 27-game losing streak.

Why ask why, Yoenis, you're a Met.Wilfredo Lee/APYoenis Cespedes might ask himself if the 2017 season is what he literally signed up for when he re-signed with the Mets.

Dark days

After a great run in the late 1990s and early 2000s that included back-to-back playoff appearances in 1999 and 2000, the Mets went back down the hill as management went the aging-star route to try to keep the club viable. Hello, Mo Vaughn and Roberto Alomar. Goodbye, winning ways.

Embarrassment came both in on-field performance and off-field incidents. In the final game of Bobby Valentine's managerial tenure in 2002, the Braves' players all got a good laugh when Bobby Cox sent up pitcher Jung Bong as a pinch hitter. That was a way to mock what happened a week earlier when embarrassing photos of a Mets pitcher (Grant Roberts) smoking marijuana surfaced.

Mets management thought Valentine was one of the problems. They replaced him with Art Howe and signed Tom Glavine away from the Braves.

They lost 15-2 on Opening Day the following year. Ownership said Howe lit up a room when he gave interviews, but the light never shined on Howe's Mets. They were 49 games under .500 in his two seasons.

Ouch

The 2006 Mets were supposed to be the 1986 Mets. They were the best team in baseball, and the signs were there that they were a team of destiny.

And then Carlos Beltran took strike three with the bases loaded to end the National League Championship Series.

It was a curveball the Mets didn't expect, both literally and figuratively. They spent the next two seasons chasing that Game 7 loss, blowing a seven-game lead with 17 to play in 2007 and losing to the Marlins on the final day of the season in each of those years.

The next six seasons were one baseball disaster after another. Mets ownership put their money in Bernie Madoff's hands, and when Madoff's fraud was exposed, it was the Mets fan who suffered in the form of reduced payroll and a weak on-field product.

Building a ballpark that was a hitter-thwarting cavern weakened the impact of the team's best player (David Wright) and the team's top signing the year after it was built (Jason Bay) and showed a lack of awareness in top-level decision-making.

On the field, the signature moment was Luis Castillo dropping a final-out popup against the Yankees to cost the Mets a game. You'll be seeing that one for the rest of your life.

And then there were the injuries. A lot of them: concussions, knees, backs, elbows, shoulders. Some were handled fine. Many were not.

Johan Santana pitched the first no-hitter in franchise history in 2012. He made just 10 starts after that with an 8.27 ERA and never pitched in the majors again.

That's so Mets.

And yet ...

Here are the 2017 Mets, two years removed from an appearance in the World Series and entering the season with the promise of a young, healthy pitching staff for years to come. Instead of getting that, though, Mets fans end up enduring massive headaches (and arm aches, back aches and aches you never heard of before) and a mostly unenjoyable watch as the season nears the halfway point.

Mets fans are a loyal bunch. They stick it out. They believe that the suffering is worth it and that living their fandom this way is more realistic than the alternative. They accept the embarrassment, knowing that in time it will pass and that in the end, it will be worth it.

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Tim Kurkjian breaks down how the Mets' latest injury concerns will affect the team.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Michael Conforto
BA HR RBI R
.288 14 41 47
OTHER LEADERS
HRJ. Bruce 19
RBIJ. Bruce 49
RM. Conforto 47
OPSM. Conforto .959
WJ. deGrom 7
ERAJ. deGrom 3.71
SOJ. deGrom 113