When you were briefly not a Met.
Photo: Al Bello (Getty Images)

The New York Mets, a team that began the season 11-1, lost their ninth game of their last 11 in Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon. Ace Noah Syndergaard, who was scheduled to start Saturday’s rained-out game against the Phillies, was skipped for reasons vague enough to be weird. Less-hairy co-ace Jacob deGrom, who recently suffered one of the exotic injuries—a hyperextended elbow, in this case—that happen disproportionately to impact Mets players, returned from the disabled list to take the mound in his stead, which was good. Then deGrom threw 45 pitches in a distressingly laborious and miraculously scoreless first inning and left the game, which was bad. The official word from the team is that deGrom is actually just fine, which was Mets. The bullpen gave up four runs and the Mets turned 11 hits into just two runs, which was more or less in keeping with how things have been for the Mets of late.

Notably absent from Friday’s come-from-behind win and Sunday’s Mets-to-the-utmost loss was right fielder Jay Bruce, who left the team on May 9 to be with his wife for the birth of their second child. This is a blessing for Bruce and his family, and of course absolutely the right thing for him to do. But, as an anonymous Twitter tipster noted, there is an element to this good news that rings notably Mets-y.

Last year, when every possible thing went wrong for the Mets, the team dealt away the veteran stars and demi-stars on expiring contracts that had helped the team make the playoffs in each of the previous two seasons. Because they are the Mets—meaning the owners have no money or shame—this meant that they swapped those players mostly for semi-defective minor league relief pitchers named Gerson and Ryder. Bruce was dealt to Cleveland for Ryder Ryan, a 23-year-old selected in the 30th round out of the University of North Carolina, and Cleveland’s willingness to take on the rest of his salary for the season. That deal was sealed on August 9, 2017.

There is no reason for me or you or anyone else to pretend that the simple fact of being traded away from a Mets team that rapidly went from disappointing to A Hemorrhoid That Somehow Proves Fatal liberated Jay Bruce from anything but having to play for that particular team for the remainder of that season. We cannot know the specifics of his home life and honestly shouldn’t want to know them. And Bruce re-signed with the Mets as a free agent, completely of his own accord, and is having a perfectly cromulent Jay Bruce season.

But the facts are the facts: Jay Bruce’s paternity leave began on May 9, exactly nine months to the day that he was traded away from the Mets; his second child with his wife—Max, a boy, seven pounds and nine ounces—arrived two days after that. It’s nice to know that something good came out of a 2017 season that otherwise felt like a total loss.