Matters of Fact

It's Baseball Season. The snow gets annoying. Noah Syndergaard will always be fitter than you.

It’s baseball season. Yes, you heard me. It’s common knowledge that baseball season starts the moment the Super Bowl ends, which, last night, came around the middle of the third quarter. Of course, I caused some sighs and eye-rolls my junior year of high school when I showed up in full regalia the Monday after Winter Break and proclaimed that baseball season actually began on New Year’s Day, which, looking back, was ridiculous even for me. But now that question is moot, because football season is over, which means it’s almost spring.

Incidentally, in a particularly foreboding bit of symbolism, in Michigan, pretty much the instant the Super Bowl ended, it started to snow. This is my first winter in Michigan, and I’ve learned that it’s pretty much always snowing, but somehow never in a way that’s pleasant or fun. It’s as if the snow follows an algorithm: continue snowing until A) the snow would become fun or aesthetically nice, or B) it would be enough to close schools. So when I say I’m looking forward to the spring, you can believe it in spades. This Michigan winter, which more or less consists of a quarter-inch of snow three times a week for three months, cannot end soon enough.

For one, soon we’ll see Jordan Yamamoto in a Mets uniform. Yamamoto, acquired from the Marlins, threw 11 bad pandemic innings in 2020, but in 2019 was a pretty average pitcher. In Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, and Carlos Carrasco, the better part of the Mets’ rotation is already set. Unless they can swing a trade for Kris Bryant and Kyle Hendricks, or something like that, the remaining two slots will be filled by some combination of Yamamoto, Joey Lucchesi, and David Peterson, with cameo appearances every so often by emergency starters of yore like Robert Gsellman. 

It’s not a perfect rotation — there’s a reason that trading for Kyle Hendricks would be so cool, although granted, that reason has mostly to do with Kris Bryant — but it’s a good one, on the verge of excellence. It’s certainly a far cry from 2020, when four of the Mets’ six most-used starters had E.R.A.’s above 5.00. 

We’ve also learned things in recent days about people who won’t be part of the Mets’ rotation to start the 2021 season. Trevor Bauer is going to the Dodgers, and Noah Syndergaard, ahead of schedule in his return from Tommy John surgery, has announced his book club’s first selection.

On Bauer — what did you expect? I actually expected exactly this, and the record proves it, but regardless, now the whole thing is over, and we’re better for it. Not the Mets’ rotation, exactly, although that’s still completely fine; we’re just better as a group of people who no longer have to argue about Trevor Bauer. He plays for the Dodgers now, and his salary is more than the GDP of one of those small Eastern European countries that are constantly changing their names, so whether you wanted him or not, you can now boo him in peace. 

There was that brief moment when his website started offering Mets merchandise, and beat reporters were reduced to interpreting the signature in his online newsletter sign-up email, but I always knew that would come to nothing. Bauer is too online not to do something strange in the final hours of his free agency world tour. Anyone who thought they would discover his destination by finding an aspect of the internet that Trevor Bauer himself had overlooked was vastly overestimating their own detective skills. It’s sort of like watching a man drive down the highway with a mattress tied to his car, one arm out the window so that if the entire thing goes flying, he can just hold on. Bauer was always a few steps ahead of all of us, but only some of us were self-aware enough to know how little we actually knew. 

On Syndergaard, meanwhile — I don’t want to get too self-referential, but I also predicted exactly what he’s now done. Here’s the title of the first book that his book club will read: “What Doesn't Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude, and Environmental Conditioning Will Renew Our Lost Evolutionary Strength.” This sounds like an interesting book, but reading it with Noah Syndergaard sounds sort of like reading “The Great Gatsby” alongside the author of “How People Smarter Than You Interpret ‘The Great Gatsby.’”

This is Syndergaard’s territory. Among book club participants, he’ll have the automatic edge. Just like I wouldn’t question Trevor Bauer on how to operate rudely on the internet, I wouldn’t question Noah Syndergaard on caveman-style human conditioning. Trevor Bauer is a troll, it snows annoyingly in Michigan, and none of us will ever train like Noah Syndergaard. Some things are just matters of fact.