Mets fans around New York have proven that a smile is highly contagious.
The long-suffering legion of fans — a group this journalist proudly considers himself a part of — has expressed unbridled joy over the acquisition of superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor, who became a New York Met after the blockbuster trade was finalized on Thursday, Jan. 7.
The trade for Lindor, nicknamed “Mr. Smile,” represents the beginning of a new era in Queens baseball, promised by the team’s new billionaire owner Steve Cohen when he bought the team late last year, fans said.
The deal, which also brings starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco to Queens, fills the team’s needs in the field, in the lineup and in its rotation. More importantly, acquiring Lindor, who will become a free agent by the end of the 2021 season, has generated unprecedented excitement in a fan base that hasn’t seen a World Series trophy in over 30 years.
“I give that deal a 10 out of 10,” said Dylan Hornik, a 23-year-old from Long Island who bleeds orange and blue. “It’s a new day in Queens, a new dawn. It’s exciting, and we have every reason to be excited.”
With Cohen at the helm, the team from Flushing looks and feels different than it has in recent years, according to some fans who spoke with QNS.
“Off the field it does two huge things for me,” said Dan Healy, a 28-year-old lifelong fan from East Islip. “[Lindor] is going to be one of the most marketable athletes in all of New York City and it also proves that the old guard is officially over.”
For many, the trade makes the Mets, who finished a disappointing 26-34 in the shortened 2020 season, an instant contender.
“It feels like the missing piece to this equation,” Hornik said. “This feels like the piece that could really make them contenders.”
Lindor, a 27-year-old four-time All Star, said he was excited to begin playing in New York during a press conference on Monday, Jan. 11, his first appearance in the Mets’ orange and blue.
“There’s been so much excitement with the Mets that I couldn’t help myself in being extremely excited,” Lindor said. “I’m blessed to be able to play this game in the biggest city in the world and in one of the most fun cities in the world.”
In picking up Lindor and Carrasco, the Mets parted ways with shortstops Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez, and two minor league prospects in pitcher Josh Wolf and outfielder Isaiah Greene. But while some fans are sad to see the four players depart for Cleveland, they also feel the Mets saw the better end of the deal.
“Gimenez was a nice piece. I liked him, nice defense, he hit well and I’m going to miss him,” said Matt Mancuso, a 21-year-old from Bergen County, N.J. “But getting Lindor means you have to send a package with some notable names … Overall, I really like the package. [The Mets] didn’t sacrifice too much.”
With about a month left in the offseason, fans said they feel relatively content if the Lindor trade ends up being the last major trade or signing the Mets made prior to the start of the 2021 season. Prior to the Lindor trade, the Mets notably picked up catcher James McCann and reliever Trevor May.
“I don’t necessarily think they need what some would consider a ‘major move,’” Healy said. “I’m still holding out hopes for [George] Springer, but at the end of the day, if it comes down to just Springer, or Jackie Bradley Jr., another relief pitcher, and one of the reclamation starters, I’d prefer the three pieces to make the roster deeper.”
For Mancuso, who attended game three of the National League Division Series against the Dodgers in 2015 at Citi Field, the trade is one of the greatest moments of his Mets fandom, and has laid the foundations for many great memories to come.
“Cohen is setting the team up for a World Series,” Mancuso said. “This is up there, in terms of being a Mets fan. I don’t know if it’s number one, but it’s definitely up there.”
Additional reporting by Joe Pantorno.