On Wednesday morning, with free agent righty Yoshinobu Yamamoto's Los Angeles meeting frenzy fully underway, SNY insider Andy Martino published a column summing up the Mets' pursuit of the Japanese star, describing how they went from underdog to one of the top teams in the chase.
Only one problem: New York was long touted as one of the frontrunners for Yamamoto's services, long before the plane trip team executives took to Japan that reportedly evened the playing field. So, what gives? Were the Mets interested all along, but weren't receiving a second look (due to perceived franchise prestige limitations) until they went the extra mile? Were the Mets barely involved, and were simply being included because Steve Cohen is rich and the chase would be more interesting that way? Are they involved now? Or was Martino's Wednesday report meant to prepare Mets fans for Yamamoto to choose a different team, painting a narrative of a plucky underdog getting close rather than a lead dog bungling a four-month lead?
Or maybe, just maybe, this story is exactly what it seemed like. The Mets have gained momentum in recent weeks and are coming down the inside track in a solid position. This has absolutely nothing to do with the Red Sox (check the Bostonian replies to Martino's tweet) or resetting post-loss expectations. Take it at face value. The Mets wanted Yamamoto all along, didn't think he was receptive to Kodai Senga's push, took a globetrotting trip, and earned a lot of plaudits for doing so.
Of course, Martino's response to the raging conspiracy fire was succinct:
Yankees still likely have to worry about 'underdog' Mets in Yoshinobu Yamamoto chase, no matter where they started
Sometimes, it's totally fine to take reports at face value. The Mets started behind. Now they're ahead. They did a good job, not a bad job. When a reporter says things are going well, it's not a secret sign that things were going extremely poorly before, and therefore all current momentum is doomed. Don't read the tea leaves so long they turn into Aaron Rodgers' ayahuasca.
Truth be told, the race changed the second the Dodgers announced the deferrals in Shohei Ohtani's contract. If the rumors are true and Yamamoto is a Dodgers fan, it's difficult to see him passing up their full-throated pitch. But that doesn't mean Martino has decided to feed Mets fans a new narrative based on certain realities that changed on a dime, and it certainly doesn't mean the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals are reenergized because the Mets have been smoke and mirrors in their pursuit all along.