The New York Mets are off to their best start in franchise history. What better way to relish the moment than a good ‘ol fashioned comparison to some of the characters on Billions?
The New York Mets are 10-1. I honestly cannot believe I just typed that. Eleven games really don’t mean much in the scope of a 162-game season, but the fact that this team could jump out to this start is truly remarkable.
Anyone who follows or writes about the Mets may notice that a fair amount of the time the narrative is gloomy, pessimistic, and unfavorable. But surpassing the best start in franchise history grants the club a degree of clemency from that negativity.
So in honor of the best opening two weeks in the 56-year history of the Mets, I want to relish the opportunity to write a fun, light-hearted, pop culture-infused piece that isn’t there to serve as a distraction from a bad team.
If you are not watching Showtime’s hit series Billions, you are doing yourself a disservice.
The show depicts an ongoing struggle of power between Bobby “Axe” Axelrod, a hedge fund magnate that rose from nothing, and Chuck Rhoades Jr., the US Attorney of the Southern District of New York who aspires to become Governor and enjoyed a life of wealth and privilege.
Operating on the peripherals are Wendy Rhoades, Chuck’s wife who also serves as the in-house psychiatrist and performance coach at Axelrod’s hedge fund, Axe Capital, and Mike “Wags” Wagner, Axe’s chief operating officer and right-hand man.
One of the aspects that not only makes this show unique but enthralling, is the multi-dimensional and complex nature of its characters. So what better way to explore that than a good ‘ol fashioned comparison of New York Mets to Billions characters?
So many gifted individuals in this production bring their on-screen characters to life and into our hearts, so, for now, we’ll save the minor ones for later and stick to the four aforementioned main players.
Wendy Rhoades — Mickey Callaway
— Billions (@SHO_Billions) April 2, 2018
With the exception of Axe himself, there is no individual more important at Axe Capital than Wendy Rhoades. She is the straw that stirs the drink. As the company’s performance coach, she uses her “black magic” to keep everyone calm, level-headed and operating at a high level.
Wendy is just as powerful as anyone on this show and at her core, she is a natural born killer—willing to do anything necessary to not only survive but also get what she wants.
For the moment, we’re going to leave out her unique extracurricular activities and focus on the source of her value. Wendy is skillfully adept in pushing all of the right buttons in order to make an individual perform at their peak. It’s almost unfair to attempt to describe just how potent she is at reestablishing the confidence of those on her team. We even see her screw Axe’s head back on straight on several occasions. So who better to represent Wendy than the Mets’ new skipper, Mickey Callaway.
You could say it’s luck. You could say it’s completely by chance. But a lot has had to go right for the Mets to reach this unbelievable 10-1 start. The majority of the credit must go to the players executing on the field, but you cannot discount how Callaway has been able to channel his inner Wendy Rhoades and push all of the right buttons.
Take Wednesday night’s game against the Marlins, for example. Down 1-0 in the eighth inning, Callaway opted to pitch hit back-to-back left-handed batters in Michael Conforto and Adrian Gonzalez despite the fact that the Marlins had lefty Chris O’Grady on the mound. Both Conforto and Gonzalez have had documented struggles against left-handers, but still managed to come through with back-to-back hits, allowing the Mets to take the lead.
This was just the latest in a series of unconventional moves that have worked out for the rookie manager. Maybe this hot start is too good to be true and maybe things will come back down to earth, but for now I’m willing to believe Mickey Callaway is the managerial guru we have all been praying for, who knows exactly how to get the best out of his players in the same fashion that Wendy Rhoades knows how to get the best of hers.
Bobby Axelrod — Yoenis Cespedes
— Billions (@SHO_Billions) April 9, 2018
To Bobby Axelrod, the world is a chessboard and most other people are his pawns. He comes from modest roots and made the bulk of his money—spoiler alert—on the ashes of 9/11. With that being said he is an alpha-male that must not only succeed but crush the opposition in the process.
When it comes to being a master manipulator, he is not on the level of Wendy but is talented in his own right. Axe is the kind of rich guy that has to operate in power moves. Every time he walks into a room, he has to make you acknowledge that he is “the man.” Part of what makes Axe so prolific is his swagger, which kind of draws a parallel to Yoenis Cespedes.
Like Axe, Cespedes is “the man” in the Mets clubhouse. He is the type of player with a presence that makes you take notice both on and off the field. Between his mammoth home runs, sensational bat flips, impressive arm strength, and that mesmerizing underhanded toss he does to throw the ball back into the infield, it’s hard to take your eyes off him. Factor in his impressive car collection that he’s paraded around Spring Training and his swagger is undeniable.
Cespedes is a man that came from nothing who used his talent to escape his native Cuba and build a lucrative career in professional baseball. No, he hasn’t built up a fortune the way Axe has, but will have earned more than $150 million in his career when it is all said and done. Cespedes may not be the nefarious puppet master that Axe is, but these two are similar in more ways than one.
Chuck Rhoades Jr. — Jeff Wilpon
— Billions (@SHO_Billions) April 9, 2018
As US Attorney of the Southern District of New York, Chuck Rhoades Jr. takes pride in fighting for those who cannot fight for themselves and defending the little guy. He has made a career attacking the crooks of Wall Street, who have built their careers by stepping on the shoulders of others.
The irony in all of this is that Chuck himself comes from a life of wealth and privilege that was manufactured on similar circumstances. His father, Chuck Rhoades Sr., was a ruthless real-estate mogul that used his role as a father to funnel his political aspirations into his son. Rhoades Jr. was not handed success, but at the same time was offered opportunities made available to him by his social status.
What better way to characterize a rich guy than with another rich guy, right? Jeff Wilpon, the chief operating officer of the Mets, grew up in a life privilege that afforded him opportunities that others could not dream of.
As a successful real-estate mogul, Fred Wilpon bought a one percent stake in the Mets back in 1980. By 1986, he had parlayed that into a 50-50 share with Nelson Doubleday, and by 2002, the Wilpon family had become the sole owners of the Mets franchise. I’m not here to say the Jeff Wilpon was handed everything in life, but when your father runs the Mets, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to land a senior position within the organization one day.
In most aspects, it’s a loose comparison, but Rhoades Jr. and Jeff Wilpon undoubtedly match up when it comes to their upbringings. Both were able to live entitled childhoods that afforded them benefits and advantages that the average person does not have access to. Factor in that their fathers made their fortunes in a similar fashion and it makes the correlation even stronger.
Wags — Todd Frazier
— Billions (@SHO_Billions) April 5, 2018
We’ve come to learn many things about Wags through 27 episodes. For one, he spends an egregious amount of time dining at strip clubs as he has built up a tolerance to the body sushi that destroys the gastrointestinal systems of his co-workers in one episode. Just two weeks ago, we scratch our heads trying to figure out why he’s banned from Little League for life. But if there’s one thing we know about Wags, it is that he is undeniably and irrefutably loyal to Axe.
“It is no exaggeration to say that Bobby Axelrod is the man who gave me my life or at least let me keep it. But even more than that, he’s given me friendship. The kind of friendship — it’s more than money, more than talent — it’s almost family. But unlike family, he never turns away. He’s the only one who truly sees me and doesn’t judge. He accepts me as I am. And that kind of friendship is…everything.”
Feel free to watch the full two-minute clip just above, but I warn you, it may get a little dusty. I believe Wags’ single most defining quality is loyalty, which is why Todd Frazier best fits the mold here.
Todd Frazier is an exceptional leader and strong clubhouse presence. How does one become a “glue guy” in a locker room you may ask? Through loyalty. When your teammates realize that you have their back and believe in them, they trust in you and return that loyalty.
It has not taken long for Frazier to become popular amongst his new teammates and that is just a product of his light-hearted personality and a willingness to buy into those around him. The “salt and pepper” celebration isn’t just a clever gimmick created by the Toddfather, but a covenant symbolizing that every member of this team believes in the mission. A mission handed down by Mickey Callaway but endorsed by Frazier.
Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Frazier has cozied up to Cespedes, our own Bobby Axelrod, and become his pseudo-sidekick. The two have developed an excellent rapport in their short time as teammates. Kevin Kernan said it best in the title of his latest New York Post column, “This unlikely duo epitomizes Mets’ togetherness.”
Believe it or not, there are so many more interesting characters to cover than the core four here. Looks like we’ll just have to revisit this later on and discuss Taylor Mason, Brian Connerty, “Dollar” Bill Stern, Oliver Dake, and many more. For now, let’s just all sit back and enjoy this wonderful and unexpected start to the 2018 season.