PORT ST. LUCIE — Here’s a little game for you to play:
Gather your friends who label themselves Mets fans around a table. Serve up a couple of pints of their favored beverage, click the radio on a spring training game, let the already-terrific tandem of Howie Rose and Wayne Randazzo get you fired up for the coming season, set a genuine baseball mood. Then ask your friends this:
“How many years does Jacob deGrom have until he hits free agency?
“How about Noah Syndergaard?
“How about Michael Conforto?”
Chances are high that, even without reaching for their phones, they will answer instantly: Two. Three. Three.
This is part of the baseball conversation now, in a way it simply wasn’t five years ago, 10 years ago, certainly not 20 and 30 years ago. Back in the day you found out how long it was until Dwight Gooden or Darryl Strawberry or Don Mattingly had until they hit free agency about 15 minutes before they hit free agency.
The game evolves, and so does the narrative. Nobody in 1985 was writing poetry about Gooden’s WHIP or Mattingly’s OPS+, either.