Steven Matz


Palladino: Mets Losing Puts Them Well Beyond Character-Building Stages

Yankees, Judge Showing More Character These Days

Ernie Palladino
June 27, 2018 - 4:02 pm

They say losing builds character.

Well, to an extent, perhaps. A moderate set of setbacks can actually bring an overconfident team back to earth, get it to refocus and, duly punished, get it back on a successful track.

But if losing big over a long period truly built character, the Mets would need to decide whether to buy or sell at the trade deadline. Their three-headed general manager filling in for Sandy Alderson wouldn’t have to worry about restocking that barren farm system.

They’d be lousy with character, and maybe, just maybe, they wouldn’t have to go into Wednesday’s home game against the Pirates losers of 24 of their last 31 games.

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For all the talk of character and learning coming out of Mickey Callaway’s mouth, it’s really all a bunch of falsehoods. The only thing the Mets have learned this year involves a master class on the art of blowing games.

The real character building has happened on the other side of town. Specifically, with the young face of the franchise, Aaron Judge.

Not only has he taught the pinstripes how to get out of a slump, but he’s offered his own lesson on making friends and influencing people. Who else but Judge, knowing he roamed in the enemy’s outfield in Philadelphia’s Citizen Bank Ballpark the other night, would toss a young Phillies fan a ball and then play catch with him as Judge warmed up for the fifth inning.

That’s a lot of goodwill right there. OK, maybe it doesn’t make up for that line-drive homer he drilled in the top of that inning to give the Yanks a two-run lead. Or his run on Giancarlo Stanton’s two-run single in the eighth that sealed the 4-2 win.

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But that kid will long remember that mini game of catch he once had with the strapping right fielder in the middle of a game.

More to the Yankees' situation, Judge had been in a slump for most of June, going 17-for-73 with three homers, 11 walks and 29 strikeouts in 20 games before Monday’s breakout.

More character. Judge came alive on Gary Sanchez’ first day out of the lineup with a Grade 1 groin strain that will keep him sidelined three to four weeks. But the lineup didn’t look the worse for wear without him, as Judge and Stanton picked up the slack.

That’s character. Lose a season-high three straight, then come right back and win against a surprisingly good Phillies team.

As football coaches like to say, learning always comes easier through winning.

The awful, unwatchable Mets haven’t done that. They have simply mastered the fine art of losing in all its various ways, leaving themselves and their fans to wonder what other ways one team can reach such putrid levels.

Will it be a continuation of Monday night, when players who are supposedly there for their defense commit three errors? Or might they revert to their old ways of supporting (non-supporting?) a much bled-for run for the pitching staff?

Or is there truly some other strange and exotic way to lose?

Eventually, the Mets will win two or three straight games. But the way things have gone now, it won’t make up for all the losing. And it most certainly won’t erase the fact that too much has gone on for the Mets to learn anything from it.

That learning and building of character is happening on the other side of town. 

Follow Ernie on Twitter at @ErniePalladino