Bradley’s Buzz: Game 1 to the Mets, who mightn’t be the same old Mets

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Kyle Wright waits as New York Mets' Tyler Naquin runs the bases after hitting a home run during the sixth inning of a baseball game Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

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Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Kyle Wright waits as New York Mets' Tyler Naquin runs the bases after hitting a home run during the sixth inning of a baseball game Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Kyle Wright yielded four home runs, two to deadline addition Tyler Naquin. Buck Showalter summoned Edwin Diaz for a six-out save, which doesn’t often happen in August. The Braves lost Game 1 at Citi Field on Thursday. Whatever happens over the weekend, they cannot leave New York in first place.

Which isn’t a big deal. To pass the Mets over these five games, the Braves had to sweep. That’s a lot – too much – to ask. As we’re learning, the Mets are pretty good, too.

Today’s New York Post back-page headline: “Six and the Citi,” with a photo of Diaz celebrating his sixth out. (I might have mentioned that I love the NYC tabloids.)

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Game 1 was much bigger for the Mets. Since moving to the National League East in 1994, the Braves have won 16 division titles to the Mets’ two. Over that span, the Braves have played in four World Series, winning two; the Mets have reached two World Series, winning neither. Any chat with any New York writer includes a heapin’ helpin’ of Big Apple skepticism regarding the Mets’ capacity to outlast the ATL.

Last night was Diaz’s first six-out save. As Showalter told reporters: “I do think it’s that time of year when we go to a different mode of operations sometimes.”

Credit where it’s due: Showalter is the best manager the Mets have had since Davey Johnson. The list since him: Bud Harrelson, Jeff Torborg, Dallas Green, Bobby Valentine, Art Howe, Willie Randolph, Jerry Manuel, Terry Collins, Mickey Callaway and Luis Rojas. Only Randolph and Collins took a division title.

If the teams split the next four – a day/night doubleheader is scheduled for Saturday – the Mets will be 4-1/2 games ahead of the Braves. The Mets saw their 10-1/2 game of June 1 slashed to a half-game on July 23, but they’ve won nine of 10 since. There’s ample time for them to blow this, but these might not be the Same Old Mets.

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About Deshaun Watson

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Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson gives autographs to fans after the NFL football team's training camp, Monday, Aug. 1, 2022, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/Nick Cammett)

Credit: Nick Cammett

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson gives autographs to fans after the NFL football team's training camp, Monday, Aug. 1, 2022, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/Nick Cammett)

Credit: Nick Cammett

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Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson gives autographs to fans after the NFL football team's training camp, Monday, Aug. 1, 2022, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/Nick Cammett)

Credit: Nick Cammett

Credit: Nick Cammett

The NFL will appeal arbitrator Sue L. Williams’ decision to suspend the Cleveland quarterback Deshaun Watson six games for multiple allegations of sexual abuse. Williams’ verdict reads worse than it is: She conceded that Watson acted in an “egregious” way, but she felt NFL precedent negated a longer suspension.

The appeal will be heard by Peter C. Harvey, once New Jersey’s attorney general. He’s under pressure. The NFL lobbied for Watson to miss a full season; Williams ordered barely one-third of that. She didn’t mandate a fine, nor did she require Watson to undergo counseling. She did, however, note an absence of much remorse.

The NFL agreed with its players association that it would be fairer if the league appointed a disciplinary office, as opposed to commissioner Roger Goodell, to decide such cases. The NFL also left itself with final say. If Harvey orders a full year’s suspension, Goodell must approve it, which he surely will – and which is what the NFLPA didn’t want.

The overwhelming reaction to Williams’ decision was that six games weren’t enough, though we stipulate Watson hasn’t been charged with a crime. The NFL has a personal conduct policy, which isn’t the same as state/federal law. Now it seems as if Watson is being subjected to double jeopardy, which laws tend to preclude. The idea was to keep Goodell from being judge and jury, but there he sits.

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About the Padres

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San Diego Padres' Juan Soto celebrates with teammates after scoring on an RBI-single by Josh Bell during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Credit: Gregory Bull

San Diego Padres' Juan Soto celebrates with teammates after scoring on an RBI-single by Josh Bell during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Credit: Gregory Bull

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San Diego Padres' Juan Soto celebrates with teammates after scoring on an RBI-single by Josh Bell during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Credit: Gregory Bull

Credit: Gregory Bull

They’ve got Manny Machado. They’ll get Fernando Tatis back from injury rehab. They just traded for Juan Soto. They’ve loaded up to the extent they’re now seen as the NL’s next great team. Isn’t this where we came in?

The Padres hired A.J. Preller as general manager in 2014. He was credited with winning the subsequent offseason by landing Matt Kemp, James Shields, Derek Norris, Wil Myers, Will Middlebrooks, Craig Kimbrel, Justin Upton and B.J. Upton. That team, touted to the heavens, never left the ground.

The 2015 Padres finished 74-88. Kimbrel and the Upton brothers, all acquired by the Braves, were gone after a year. Shields was traded to the White Sox in June 2016 for Tatis. Kemp was dumped on the Braves for Hector Olivera’s contract. (Remember Hector Olivera?) To his credit, Preller went all-in on restocking his farm system. Then again, he wouldn’t have had to rebuild had he not shed Max Fried, Trea Turner, Jace Peterson and Matt Wisler.

Oh, and the Padres sent a 2015 competitive balance pick to the Braves in the Kimbrel deal. The player taken was Austin Riley.

Preller is still in place, though he served a 30-day suspension in 2016 for being less than forthcoming regarding the health of pitcher Drew Pomeranz, whom he’d shipped to the Red Sox. Even without Tatis, San Diego has positioned itself to make the playoffs. Their only postseason appearance under Preller was after the shortened 2020 season.

Machado, Tatis and Soto are tremendous players, but the Padres aren’t known for maximizing resources. Not counting the 60-game COVID season, this should be the first San Diego team to finish above .500 since 2010. It could make a playoff run. It could make many playoff runs over the next few seasons. For the record, I’ll believe it when I see it.

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About the 2022 Braves

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Atlanta Braves third baseman Austin Riley reacts after hitting a solo home run during the eighth inning against the New York Mets at Truist Park Wednesday, July 13, 2022, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Atlanta Braves third baseman Austin Riley reacts after hitting a solo home run during the eighth inning against the New York Mets at Truist Park Wednesday, July 13, 2022, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

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Atlanta Braves third baseman Austin Riley reacts after hitting a solo home run during the eighth inning against the New York Mets at Truist Park Wednesday, July 13, 2022, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Remember when we believed the Braves had been underrated in preseason? (They were, ahem, defending champs.) Their over/under was 89.5. As of Thursday, BetOnline had reset that number to 97.5.

Overall, this appears a bad year to have taken the under. Nobody’s over/under was set above 96.5. The Dodgers, Astros, Yankees, Mets and Braves should all top that.