A statue dedicated to the late Tom Seaver set the tone Friday morning outside Citi Field. Jackie Robinson Day around Major League Baseball may have been overshadowed by a statue of the winningest pitcher in Mets franchise history.
A statue that symbolizes Mets history. Owner Steve Cohen said about Seaver at the ceremony, “There was a reason he was called a Franchise. You can’t measure what Tom Seaver meant to this organization. This magnificent statue will be a wonderful daily reminder to Mets’ fans coming to Citi Field that Tom Seaver is forever a Mets legend.”
43,820 rabid fans at Citi Field already consider their owner a legend. He delivered Francisco Lindor last year, and then Max Scherzer, Chris Bassitt, Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar, and Mark Canha to the equation, prior to the nasty 99-day lockout of the players and owners.
That statue stands 10-foot tall. Lindor hit two home runs, Robinson Cano hit his first since September 22, 2020, and Marte added his first as a Met. Canha and Brandon Nimmo were away from the ballpark due to COVID protocols.
No issue with this Mets team because, even without Nimmo or Canha there is a difference from last year. They have depth and a local product, Travis Jankowski, had a three hit game that led to a Mets 10-3 win. In his Citi Field pitching debut, Bassitt increased a season opening scoreless streak to 11 innings.
They scored runs Friday afternoon. The Mets hit home runs and got two-out RBI from Escobar, Marte, and Lindor. The Seaver statue is an inspiration to this Mets franchise and their fans. This Mets team was enthused to return home and show their fan base what has been missing at Citi Field.
I’m sure you recall, the Mets also got off to a good start and showed some good trends of winning a lot of ball games after a COVID shortened 2020 season.
But there is a difference this season. The manager, Buck Showalter knows what he has with Lindor, who struggled last year, and those boos have turned to cheers. Lindor heard the difference after his two home run day.
“He’s in a good spot mentally and emotionally,” Showalter said. “You can tell he’s comfortable with the challenge of playing shortstop for the New York Mets and not having to be everything to everybody, every day and every second.”
Lindor said, “It felt amazing. It felt amazing to be welcomed by one of the greatest fan bases out there. It felt great to be able to hear my home crowd cheering for me.”
That second home run in the eighth inning was back-to-back after Marte deposited his first down the left field line and Lindor heard them again. He has become a fan favorite and everyone expects the All-Star to have that bounce back year.
These are the potent Mets bats in a lineup that could hit a lot of home runs and live up to expectations. They are expected to win with the highest payroll in baseball, and Steve Cohen later said in a Tweet “The energy in the stadium was electric.”
“That’s what the team looks for,” Marte said. “The team wants the fans to be behind them every single day.”
But there are months to go. There are always issues that confront a team during the course of a long season, though this time around, and with new faces in the clubhouse, there is a sense of this being a special season at Citi Field.
Showalter said to Lindor, fans will be ready to embrace him no matter if it’s New York or Cleveland where he had two All-Star seasons. Lindor started to show signs late last season about becoming that player that fans could embrace and it has carried over.
He is a different player and is now the one who was expected to produce after he signed that lucrative 10-year deal to wear the Mets orange and blue.
Tom Seaver will always be remembered as that beloved Met. A statue of epic proportions will constantly remind fans before they go through the gates at Citi Field.
But Friday was that day for the Mets and their fans. A tone was set and any of the bad leftovers of a season before that went bad are a far fetched memory.
“Marte was unbelievable today,” Bassitt said. “Lindor was unbelievable today. It was a good read of what this team can be for a lot of games this year,”
Rich Mancuso: [email protected] Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso