The New York Grove Guide To The 2024 New York Mets

The team will probably be bad this year; but the vibes might be incredible anyway

The New York Grove Guide To The 2024 New York Mets
This could be you later this year. (Photo via Dave Colon's private archive)

And a pleasant good morning everybody, welcome to The New York Groove’s official and still timely 2024 Mets season preview. If you read this by 1:40pm tomorrow, you’ll be totally up to date on the ins and outs of the new Mets season, because Opening Day was rained out and pushed to Friday. Anyway after two years that opened with World Series dreams, the expectations for the 2024 Mets are a little more, let’s say subdued. Still, it’s been a long hard winter, baseball is here, and every team is in first place on Opening Day. So take a little time to find out if the Mets will be good this year, how to get to the stadium and what new junk food you can spend too much money on while you watch a game.

What’s new about the Mets this year?
Are you into the cult of the executive? I sure hope so, because the Mets’ biggest off-season acquisition was brand new President of Baseball Operations David Stearns, who doesn’t play baseball but does acquire the people who play baseball. Stearns is one of those hoity toity Ivy League smartypants baseball executives who’s supposed to do all the behind-the-scenes things to build a self-sustaining juggernaut. 

Think overhauling the scouting team, building a pitching lab, expanding and perfecting the team’s analytics department and its proprietary ways of crunching the massive amounts of data provided by baseball’s tens of thousands of events each season.

None of those words mean anything to me
Yeah sorry about that, but that’s what the team focused on this offseason. The Mets’ free agent signings and trades for pitchers like Luis Severino, Adrian Houser and Sean Manea were the kinds of moves that baseball people say are “interesting” and “good value” which for you, a normal person, means that if everything breaks right, then the players will be good and David Stearns will be hailed as a genius.

What if they’re not good?
No one will say David Stearns is stupid, if that’s what you’re thinking.

Okay so will the Mets be good this year?
Oooh, I don’t really think so. A lot of people don’t think so either. However, those people don’t think the Mets will be bad either, which I agree with. The official word on the Mets from analysts who run the numbers and do projections is the Mets winning 83 or so games, or two wins better than winning as many games as you lose. The Mets will be mediocre, probably, so if you’re a Knicks fan or a Rangers fan, you’ll probably be able to devote April and May (and maybe June let’s go baby) to their playoff runs.

But a lot can go wrong for the team too.

Such as?
Well look, even if everyone plays up to their predicted level, we’re talking maybe 85 wins. Maybe. If a handful of guys play well below their expected level, as happened last year, we’re talking something like 75 wins at best. The Mets will be without their ace, Kodai Senga, for at least a month to start the season because of a shoulder injury, and sickos who should know better are talking ourselves into statements like “This is Tylor Megill’s year” and “The bullpen won’t be as bad as it looks.”

If all of this makes the whole season seem a little pointless to you, you’re not alone. My dad, who has literally been alive to see every Mets team in the history of the franchise, doesn’t think the 2024 squad can win more than 80 games. Additionally, and not to brag, I’m in a small group chat with a couple other brain-damaged Mets fans who say things like “This is Tylor’s year” and the three of us agree that the season has the feel of some kind of lesser Mets season but with better vibes than the teams owned by the Wilpon family (the people who owned the Mets and lost their money making can’t-miss investments with Bernie Madoff).

What’s the point then?
Well hey let’s not move quickly to a general attitude of hopeless negativism. Consider the lilies of the goddamn field. It’s not unfounded optimism to think the Mets will at least be interesting this year. They’ve still got swaggering, occasionally shirtless home run himbo Pete Alonso playing first base, top-tier shortstop Francisco Lindor and exciting young slugging catcher Francisco Alvarez. Closer Edwin Diaz, whose in-game entrance to Timmy Trumpet’s Narco was televised baseball’s most cinematic moment in 2022, is back after missing all of 2023 to a knee injury. 

Watching New York’s bleakest baseball season fizzle out
A scene report looking for meaning in the most meaningless baseball games of the year.

Also it can absolutely be worse. The San Diego Padres are held together by chewing gum and the world’s most expensive, diamond-plated duct tape, which is still duct tape in the end. None of the nine teams in the Central division in either league have been accused of aggressively trying to field a winning baseball team, except for maybe the Cincinnati Reds. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim just ended the experiment of employing the best two baseball players of the 21st century and all they got out of it was a transcendent tweet.

Possibly sensing some flagging enthusiasm, Mets team owner and 100 percent on-the-level financial wiz Steve Cohen recently broke out the same charm he’s been using to lobby for his dream casino and told reporters that he thinks the Mets could make the playoffs and the team has really “built up the floor of what’s possible.” Catch the fever!

Okay I’m in. How do I “meet” the Mets?
The easiest way to get to Citi Field is taking the 7 train. Local or express, there’s a reason the team does a rhyme that goes “take the train to the game.” If you’re feeling particularly fancy, you can take the Long Island Rail Road to Citi Field from Penn Station or Woodside, but that’ll run you $7 for a peak CityTicket and $5 for an off-peak CityTicket, instead of just $2.90 on the subway. The Q48 bus will drop you right at Roosevelt Avenue and Citi Field, and both the Q19 and Q66 drop you at 126th Pl and Northern Boulevard, which is a short walk from the friendly confines.

You can bike there too, hell there’s even Citi Bike at Citi Field now. But be warned, the one consistent protected bike lane headed to Citi Field is the 34th Avenue open street, which ends at Junction Boulevard. Roosevelt Avenue goes to Citi Field but is a pothole-strewn mess under the 7 train, and if you want to bike to Citi Field from east of the stadium, well, you are presumably such an experienced cyclist that you don’t need me to tell you how to get there and you won't listen to me telling you not to do it.

Are there any fun giveaway days?
Oh yeah there’s some cool stuff you can get just for going to a game. The team has helpfully put the entire promotional schedule on a single page. Your mileage may vary as to what you consider a must-have, be it bobbleheads or tote bags or Hawaiian shirts, but the team has some ticket packages built around specific giveaway days, among other things. 

Personally, I am too excited about a trio of jerseys the team is giving away, as I am the exact sicko who hits all three points on the personality triangle that would be very into a Mercury Mets replica jersey (July 27), a Mets basketball jersey (June 30) and a Mets hockey jersey (August 7). 

Oh cool a tumbler. Hey that reminds me, can you get a whole carafe of wine at Citi Field?
That is an oddly specific question, but yes. Tim and his girlfriend Callie got one two years ago and here is her review:

They poured most of a bottle of bulletproof-glass liquor store wine into an OJ carafe and charged us $50 and I was OK with it.

Anything I should wash down that wine with?
You’re seriously committed to that fucking carafe huh? Well anyway, as it happens, on the same day I was getting close to frostbite while listening to people talk about how excited they were about Citi Bike at Citi Field, the Mets also invited people in to see all the new food options at the ballpark. There’s a ton of local eateries that the team is bringing in for more expensive versions of the stuff you can get at their storefronts, and they’ll be joining mainstays like Shake Shack, Pat LaFrieda and a small helmet full of entirely too much soft-serve ice cream for anyone over the age of 11 to actually finish (sprinkles optional).

Also keep in mind that you are allowed to bring outside food to Citi Field. As it happens, Corona and Flushing are right there and are bastions of good food. Friend of The Groove Max Thorn recommends popping in to Corner 28 (135-24 40th Rd) for duck buns or Shanghai You Garden (135-33 40th Rd) for dumplings. Max also says getting off the 7 in Corona provides access to taco trucks and a healthy jaunt to the game, which can be for sure good for you before you’re sitting there for two or more hours drinking beers. 

What if I’m a vegan? Can I only eat french fries?
No, you’re in luck. Here’s Tim, a vegan, on the animal cruelty-free experience at Citi Field:

Citi Field has the distinction of being one of the most vegan-friendly ballparks in the country, which isn’t saying much, but it’s better than nothing! Citi Field has a whole vegan-only stand where you can get nachos, Beyond Burgers and a rather over ambitious Beyond Sausage sandwich that features two unwieldy sausages for some reason. They have situated this stand in the darkest corner of the concessions at section 105, presumably so the average WFAN caller fan doesn’t see it and go into a rage about how this wokeness has ruined their enjoyment of baseball.

Two seasons ago, I sent a helpful note to the Mets about this, saying that instead of a vegan ghetto, it would be better to just have regular vegan hot dogs available at most concession stands. The team responded and tried to shut me up by offering me an absurdly large tray of free vegan dogs (which were good!) and free Gardenburger style veggie burgers (horrific, barely edible). But hey at least they’re trying. 

How can I show my support for the Mets with clothes, pipes, things like that?
Let’s get one thing out of the way: You should not be looking to the officially licensed providers of Mets shirts and hats if you can help it, because those companies can barely make the jerseys that actual professional baseball players are supposed to wear. Look at this trash they expect you to buy:

However, Mets fans are a creative bunch, so you can get yourself merchandise that screams “I am a proud broken-brained supporter of the New York Mets baseball club.” There’s The Mets hat that looks like the logo for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is not only fashionable, but whose producer is giving 100 percent of the profits from hat sales to Planned Parenthood of Texas and immigrant advocacy organization Make The Road NYC. 

Or perhaps you want a shirt that uses the Mets logo and font to spell Muppets, or a shirt that says ASS IN THE JACKPOT, the kind of thing that will get you confused and concerned look from those that don’t understand and knowing nods from those that do

Etsy is also a hit or miss treasure trove of sorts. Like check it out, a bowl with a Mets logo on it. As it happens, I’ve had the same blue and orange bowl since college that I have alternately named Spliff Floyd and Carlos Bowltran.

You also never know what you'll find in the stadium parking lot. Once on a bike-based Mets bar crawl from Bushwick to Citi Field, Tim and I hung out all day with a guy who was planning on hanging out in the parking lot selling white t-shirts with a print on them of Mr. Met flipping a guy off. I bought one for twenty bucks, and it was a great decision.

Has anyone made a cool power pop song about the Mets like this one about the Orioles?
NO and it drives me absolutely batty that it’s never happened.

Oh by the way, you mentioned the lilies of the field before, so what’s a best-case scenario this year?
It’s not too hard to see. It starts with Julius Randle coming back healthy enough to both bang in the low post and play defense the whole time he’s on the floor. Obviously OG Anunoby needs to come back healthy as well to give the team its defensive linchpin, and the supporting cast will have to do what they do well, which involves getting in passing lanes on the defensive end, knocking down three pointers and swallowing up rebounds on both ends of the floor. I mean, Josh Hart has averaged a double-double for two months, and has collected multiple triple-doubles in that timeframe, while shooting under 40 percent. Can that work in a playoff atmosphere? Maybe?

Sorry, that was supposed to be for my Knicks playoff preview for my other worker-owned newsletter. As for the Mets, a best-case scenario starts with Pete Alonso hitting 50 home runs again, which is not an impossible task. Right fielder Starling Marte has to play like a guy who’s old but healthy, not like a guy who’s old and fresh off double groin surgery. Kodai Senga needs to come back strong from his shoulder injury, Luis Severino has to recapture his form that saw him perform one of the best young pitchers in the American League a few years ago, and Brett Baty needs to live up to the hype of a first round draft pick who hit a home run in his first major league at-bat.

But there’s also a best-case scenario for you, the Mets fan. It starts with a beautiful summer day, and a trip to the ballpark with your friends on the train or on your bikes. You get there early enough for the big giveaway and and the ceremonial first pitch, and you and your friends all get rounds of beers for each other (Brooklyn Brewery Summer Ale just tastes better at the ballpark). The Mets score a few runs, Pete Alonso socks a massive dinger to summon the center field apple, Francisco Lindor makes a truly unbelievable play on a ground ball deep in the hole to his right and you all lose your minds watching the replay. You see Edwin Diaz strike out the side to slam the door, and you high-five strangers. Does it matter it was the team's first win after a six-game losing streak? No. What a day.

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