Curtis Granderson has seen the Subway Series from both boroughs. In 2010, he joined a Yankees team coming off its last World Series championship, and played four seasons in the Bronx. He then followed that chapter of his career by signing as a free agent with the Mets in 2013. After a series split between the city rivals this week and plenty of headache-inducing moments for Mets fans, Granderson sized up the issues in Queens on the latest episode of the "New York Accent" podcast.
"I think they've set a precedent, and it started even back when I was playing around 2015 and 2016," Granderson explained. "'We got to get the ball out of the ballpark.' I think the game itself has kind of shifted that way in general. So not only do we need to get somebody on, but when we do, if the opportunity presents itself, can someone get the ball out of the ballpark? Pete Alonso has done exactly what everyone anticipated he'd do. Then from there, we kind of fall off a little bit."
Starting pitching has also been a huge question mark for the Mets, especially with the struggles of veteran aces Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. But the latter delivered a solid start against the Yankees on Wednesday, and the Mets carved out an extra-inning win. Granderson is optimistic by nature, and so he sees the team's glass as half-full, rather than half-empty.
"The good thing is, I don't think that there's any reason to panic because the division is still pretty jumbled up," he said. "We're not 10, 15, or 20 games out of first place already. A series here and there, especially when you try to play in-division, you're right back in and on top. It still may not look the prettiest, record-wise. But when you're on top of the division, that's all that matters."
During his tenure, Granderson saw the Mets' most successful season in more than 20 years. The 2015 squad, that went all the way to the World Series, had a bevy of pitching talent with Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, and Steven Matz. For a few seasons, deGrom was virtually unhittable. Injuries have derailed his Hall of Fame track, however, and now he's done for the year with Tommy John surgery.
"[deGrom] was absolutely the best I've seen and played behind," Granderson recalled. "When I faced him as a teammate in spring training in Port St. Lucie, we got to simulate a game. He's up there throwing and I come up there and I see the first pitch. It's like a backdoor cutter, but it's not the traditional cutter that I've seen.
"It kind of stayed up and it rose -- it was a perfect strike. Okay. Then he threw a four-seam fastball, and then off-speed. And I was like, wow, that was a very quick at-bat on three pitches, and all his pitches were dotted exactly. I felt like I couldn't swing the bat."
deGrom's greatness on the mound was solidified when the Reds visited town. Granderson was chatting with six-time All-Star and former NL MVP Joey Votto. "I remember being on first base one time [talking to Votto]. And he said, 'You know what's the coolest thing for you playing for the Mets? You don't have to face these guys.'"
Granderson is now a member of the Players Alliance, which seeks expanding opportunities for minority communities to keep playing ball as kids get older. As travel teams and showcases overtake the landscape of youth baseball for teenagers, Granderson wants to ensure it stays affordable for all. And it's not surprising he's now looking to help others chase their dreams -- he's always seen the glass as half-full.
You can listen to and watch the conversation between DA and Granderson on "New York Accent" everywhere you get your podcasts, and on YouTube.