Mike Piazza's Experiences, Advice Should Reverberate with Mets
The importance of consistency, a productive mindset, and a team mentality shouldn't be understated
New York Mets Hall of Famer and Cooperstown enshrinee Mike Piazza is in Port St. Lucie this week as a special instructor in camp. That’s just a fun sentence to type.
During his time in Queens, the organization reached its highest-water mark since the team’s most recent heyday in the mid-1980s. Beloved is an understatement when it comes to what the former 62nd-round draft pick (Los Angeles, 1988; yes, 62nd round) means to the Mets fans and organization.
For fans of a certain age, Tom Seaver is their link between the Mets and timeless greatness. For others, such as myself, Piazza is that tether to baseball immortality. For today’s fans, Jacob deGrom is well on his way to assuming control of that blue and orange torch.
As deGrom has intimated many times in his career, and as life has taught us all at certain points of the journey, we can only control what we can control. Concerning ourselves with what’s out of our respective realms is counterproductive to the task at hand.
When asked about his experiences with reaching high, New York-charged expectations on Monday while speaking with the team’s press corps, Piazza struck a similar, eyes-on-the-prize chord.
“I think just doing your part and worrying about the things that are under your control. I think we just try to get too wrapped up sometimes […]
Life sometimes has a way of getting very complicated. We start to complicate things, think too much, just go through so many scenarios and not just go out that day, be 100 percent healthy that day, and hit four balls hard and catch the balls you’re supposed to catch.
That, to me, has always been advantageous. Just to do your job. Basically, do your job and do the things that you have control over.”
We’ve heard similar sentiments from a number of Mets players this spring. Most notably, Pete Alonso, whose resurgence in Port St. Lucie over the last five weeks has led the way, in a sense, with regards to this team simply going out and doing their respective jobs. Keeping things consistent.
We recently emphasized the luxury that trust throughout the roster brings when the next guy on the depth chart can step in and pick things up without skipping a beat when the need arises when discussing the Mets’ electric offense.
The same goes for every other facet of this roster.
If Jeurys Familia is still walking guys at alarming rates in April and Miguel Castro is still firing 99 MPH heaters with 92 MPH sliders, the natural process of selection should afford the most capable player the higher leverage spots.
If J.D. Davis’ defense at third doesn’t consistently stand up to the rigors of everyday action, utilityman extraordinaire Luis Guillorme can provide a high level of productivity in substitute and the Metsies roll right along.
We’re not necessarily counting on that scenario playing out, as Mets skipper Luis Rojas has shown nothing but confidence in Davis’ skills and the player rewarded him with a couple of fine plays at the hot corner on Tuesday.
But, as we’ve seen across the league over the last 48 hours, shit happens. Injuries, slumps, what have you. They’re all constant possibilities over the course of a 162-game season. Hazardsville, baby.
In the Mets’ case, it should be nice to have depth — likeminded depth, at that — with the ability to step up and get the job done when things inevitably go awry. And, oh, they will. We know better than to doubt that.
Piazza went on to discuss the importance of cohesion as a group when preparing for the trudge of a major league season, and that’s what may have hit the hardest. Because we’ve seen it take place already this spring.
Guillorme’s 22-pitch plate appearance, with every Mets player at the top step of the dugout flat-out exhilarated, was a telltale sign of something special happening, for sure.
Francisco Lindor sticking around in front of the dugout after the fourth inning on Tuesday to give each player words of encouragement as they came off the field was something to behold, as well.
Those leadership qualities we heard about really have been on full display in camp, and his 11-for-21 stretch (four homers in his last five games, to be exact) since starting the spring on a 2-for-16 slide has been pretty exciting, too.
Ideal situation? No, probably not (McNeil’s been hit by seven pitches this spring). Encouraging that everyone in that clubhouse is pulling in the same direction? Yes, indeed, it is.
“My message is just to play for each other. Have each other’s backs, pick each other up. You have to have a unified front. You have to have one heartbeat on a team,” Piazza said. “You can achieve a lot personally in this game, but I think the biggest, the most rewarding achievements are when you achieve something as a team.”
Fired up. Let’s go…
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