In case you were wondering how much you should be panicking about the New York Mets, please refer to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Memorial Day Weekend is known for many things. First and foremost, it is a day to honor those who have given their lives in service of this country, protecting the freedoms we so wholly enjoy today.
Secondary to that is a weekend filled with barbecues, beaches, and all sorts of alcoholic beverages. While many chose to celebrate in the traditional, I spent this weekend crushing all four films of the Indiana Jones franchise, and to quote Ron Burgundy, “in no way is that depressing.”
Things are not going well for the New York Mets — the injuries are piling up, starting rotation depth is withering, the bullpen is tossing grapefruits down the pipe, and their offense looks colder than the desolate planet of Hoth at times. Hard to believe that this team is only a little more than a month removed from their best start in franchise history. Well, Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.
So how worried should we be? The answer to that is subjective. A rational baseball fan could probably sift through of all of this nonsense and deduce that there is plenty of baseball left to play. But Mets fans, including myself, are not exactly the most rational group you would encounter.
At the first sign of trouble, we are liable to descend into full panic mode. Years upon years of letdowns will do that to a fanbase. Our cynicality comes with the territory. With all of that being said, the best way to explore how far up the river this team is metaphorically and since I have a whole new franchise of movies to draw inspiration from, I’ll relish the opportunity to compare the Mets struggles to the adventures of the famed archeologist, Dr. Henry Jones Jr.
Unless your plane crash landed and you’ve been lost in the Himalayas for the last 40 years, you’ve probably seen Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom at one point or another. The 1984 flick is a prequel to the original film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, where Indy and company take down a cult performing some outrageous rituals in secret.
Level 1: You’ve narrowly escaped the clutches of a Chinese crime lord after he attempted to double cross you, poison you, and execute you in the middle of a nightclub shootout.
How bad is this? Every Indiana Jones film opens with some sort of sticky situation. The Temple of Doom is unique in that it involves a nightclub shootout in the heart of Shanghai.
Indy retrieved a rare Chinese artifact for Chinese crime boss Lao Che (who also portrayed Senzo Tanaka for all of my Bloodsport enthusiasts out there) and instead of simply paying the man his money, Lao Che opts to poison Jones and dangle the antidote right in front of him.
A major firefight breaks out and Jones is able to cure himself but comes out empty handed. Hey, every film has to start somewhere right?
Mets Equivalent: Things looked crystal clear for the Mets on April 16, when they sat atop the National League East at 12-2. Dropping the next three series in a row spelled trouble for this team, but it was too early to sound any alarms.
It felt oddly reminiscent to the beginning of a movie — things started out great, but the Amazins’ got knocked down. Luckily there was plenty of movie left to sort things out. Faltering after the 12-2 start is our nightclub exchange gone wrong.
We all thought the Mets escaped from this bump in the road unscathed, but then again, they did lose both of their catchers during this period. Safe to say the Mets are well beyond this point now.
Level 2: Thanks to our 11-year-old getaway driver, we managed to outrun the Chinese mobsters. Unbeknownst to us, the very plane we are escaping on is owned by our enemy and the pilots conspire to parachute out of the plane and leave us to die.
How bad is it? This is a pretty major setback. Any time 11-year-old bails you out of car chase and gunfight, you think you’ve been through the worst of it all.
Unfortunately for Indiana, his sidekick Short Round, and new companion Willie Scott, Lao Che owned the very plane they were escaping on. On the orders of Che, the pilots parachuted out of the plane as it was approaching a mountain, leaving the trio to die. Somehow, Jones leads a miraculous escape by safely extricating his group from the airplane using an inflatable life raft.
Mets Equivalent: This situation screams Matt Harvey’s failed reclamation project.
We were fooled by his first start. Watching him toss five innings of one-run ball made many of us believe that he could return to form after recovering from Tommy John surgery and Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Boy were we wrong.
Harvey spiraled downward during his final days with the Mets. Bad start followed one after another until he was finally relegated to the bullpen. The returns were no better as a reliever and by some miracle, the Mets jettisoned him to Cincinnati and actually received a live body in return.
In the same way that Indiana Jones believed he was out of the woods when he boarded that plane, the Mets probably thought the same with Harvey after his season debut. But just as Jones performed a miraculous landing using nothing but an inflatable raft, Sandy Alderson miraculously acquired a starting catcher using nothing but a washed up, battered down starting pitcher. Impressive.
Level 3: We’ve just discovered an ancient cult performing outrageous rituals that include human sacrifice beneath the palace we are currently staying in. Oh, and the same people hosting us already sent an assassin to try and kill us in our sleep.
How bad is it? On the desperate plea of the occupants of a fictional village in Northern India, Indy agrees to do what he can to stop the evil forces operating out of Pankot Palace that have resulted in the disappearance the village’s sacred stone and all of their children.
After arriving at the palace, everything seems to be in order, until an assassin sneaks into Jones’ room to attempt to kill him, which Indy of course thwarts. Suspicious as ever, Jones, Short Round, and Willie stumble onto a meeting of the ancient Thuggee Cult where they are performing human sacrifices as a tribute to the Hindu goddess Kali.
Before we press onward, it’s important to note that each sacrifice has their heart ripped out before being lowered into a fire pit to be burned alive.
Mets Equivalent: As for where the Mets are today, this feels about right. The latest punch to the gut came in the form of Noah Syndergaard being placed on the disabled list. Apparently, he is dealing with a strained ligament in his right index finger.
Kind of makes you wonder if Fortnite is the cause of this injury too. But this latest tribulation is just one in a group of many for this team. The Mets cannot seem to find any consistency or depth out of their third, fourth, and fifth starters. The bullpen has been wildly ineffective and inconsistent including the absence of Anthony Swarzak, who has been injured since April 1.
Jay Bruce has seemingly forgotten how to hit home runs while Todd Frazier and Yoenis Cespedes rot on the disabled list. And don’t forget that collectively, this team is playing defense like a little league squad right now. It really does feel like the bottom has dropped out and watching this team struggle is almost as painful as witnessing an innocent bystander have their heart ripped out and burned alive.
Level 4: You are being forced to drink a dark liquid known as the “Blood of Kali.” Apparently, this potion places you in a trance that makes you a mindless slave to the Thuggee cult.
How bad is this? Shout out to the Thuggee cult for figuring out a way to gross me out more than ripping somebody’s heart out. If this drink is actually blood in the context of the movie then I have no words, but I digress.
After Jones and his companions are captured, he is forced to drink the “Blood of Kali” and spends the next ten minutes of the film as a mindless slave. Until Short Round jars him out of his trance, Jones almost goes along with burning his love interest Willie alive.
Mets Equivalent: This level is reserved for the moment in time when the Wilpons finally suck the soul out of Mickey Callaway’s lifeless body. The Mets’ penny-pinching owner tend to have that effect on their skippers. Sooner or later, the Wilpons’ policies will restrict Callaway from managing this roster as he sees fit, at which point Callaway will have become a lifeless mind slave.
Level 5: You’ve managed to free all of the enslaved children, escape the palace, and recovered all of the stolen sacred stones. The only thing standing in between you and freedom is a wooden suspension bridge. Unfortunately, the cult leader and his underlings have surrounded you on both sides of the bridge while holding your friends hostage. This leaves only one option — cutting the ropes of the bridge and holding on for dear life while you hope the bold move kills as cultists as possible.
How bad is this? REALLY BAD.
After Indy, Short Round, and Willie escaped the mines under the palace, they crossed a rickety wooden suspension bridge in hopes of getting as far away from that death trap as humanly possible.
Miraculously, the Thuggee cult found a way to surround them on both sides and take Willie and Short Round hostage while Jones remains on the bridge. With no options left, Jones digs in and cuts the supporting ropes of the bridge causing the majority of his pursuers to fall to their deaths. This is an absolute last resort.
Mets Equivalent: Washington is really good. Philly and Atlanta are both on the rise with tremendous young talent. What could the Mets possibly do that could give them a perennial edge of any of these clubs?
The word rebuild always sends a shiver down my spine, but if the Mets are ever backed into a corner the way Indiana Jones was, it might just be time to cut the bridge and tear down the roster.
There’s still plenty of time to turn it around in 2018 and maybe we won’t ever get to this point, but it’s definitely something to consider. I am in no way advocating for the trades of Jacob deGrom or Yoenis Cespedes, but both players are valuable pieces that could net a haul of prospects. Jacob deGrom is arguably the best pitcher in the National League right now and that might just be worth a top-five prospect.
Let’s hope it doesn’t come to this for at least a few more years, but just in case always keep your knives ready.
The good news
Every Indiana Jones film, including the Temple of Doom, seemed to finish with a relatively happy ending.
The bad news — taking down a group of human sacrificing fanatics feels like an easier task than the Mets digging themselves out of this hole. Let’s just pray we never reach level five.
Maybe next weekend I’ll tackle the Jurassic Park franchise.