This is a story I never wanted to write.

But it’s been a month and a day since Jacob deGrom signed with the Rangers. And given everything that’s gone on with the Mets since that point, the bitter taste should have faded some by now. But has it? We want the Hollywood ending. With deGrom, that would have meant 30 starts during the 2023 season and then pitching brilliantly in the playoffs to lead the Mets back to the World Series.

Instead, we got the WWE heel turn, with deGrom turning his back on the Mets.

Bully for deGrom. He got more money and more years than it was expected he’d get from the Mets and it’s silly to think that doesn’t matter. Countless players throughout the years participated in Union activities that allowed deGrom the right to pick where he plays. And he chose to play in Dallas. Maybe it’s karmic payback for Jalen Brunson leaving the 52-win Dallas Mavericks to sign with the 37-win Knicks this past basketball offseason.

Or maybe the historical comp has more to do with “Union” than it does city.

When South Carolina seceded from the Union in 1860 and fired on Fort Sumer in April of 1861, President Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to suppress the rebellion. Lincoln wanted Robert E. Lee to be the leader of that force. Lee declined on April 18. Two days later, Lee resigned as Superintendent of the United States Military Academy and for the first year of the Civil War, he served as a senior military advisor to Jefferson Davis, before taking command of the Confederacy’s Army of Northern Virginia in June of 1862.

When push came to shove, Lee chose Virginia and the Confederacy over the United States of America, the nation which he served for 32 years of his life. There’s been a lot of revisionist history with regards to Lee over the years, how he was tortured by having to choose sides and he was a gentleman who ultimately chose to side with his home state.

According to University of Virginia History Professor Gary Gallagher, “approximately a third of all Virginians who had graduated from West Point remained loyal to the United States.” This wasn’t a situation unique to Lee and a sizable number of people acted in the opposite way. Lee wasn’t some tortured soul, he believed firmly in the slaveholding way of life. See the Arlington Plantation and Custis slaves’ chapter of his life if there’s any doubt. Or his choice in the 1860 Presidential Election, where he voted for the pro-slavery candidate rather than the more moderate candidate who carried his beloved Virginia

When we were little, we were taught that America’s biggest traitor was Benedict Arnold. We should have been taught that Lee was a traitor, too.

Perhaps traitor is too strong of a word to describe deGrom leaving the Mets for the Rangers. But as in “Pulp Fiction” and the discussion about Marsellus Wallace throwing Antwan overboard from a fourth-floor balcony for giving his new bride a foot massage – it’s in the same ballpark.

You might think a better word is mercenary and a better historical comp being the Hessians who fought for the British during the Revolutionary War. And perhaps that’s right. We think – but are we really sure? – that deGrom chose Texas for the money, rather than ideology.

But Hessians made no bones over who they were or what they were about in the end. They didn’t try to pretend it was something noble and they didn’t pretend to be interested in the cause. The only thing that mattered was the cash. If the fledgling Americans somehow came up with more money, the Hessians would have switched sides.

The AP article on deGrom officially signing with the Rangers included this quote from the pitcher on his new affiliation, “The vision was the same, build something great, and win year in and year out.” If you want us to take “vision” seriously – how is that any different from what Lee did? Lee had a vision, too.

Undoubtedly, many of you believe this is making mountains out of molehills. Players leave teams all of the time and there’s no doubt that Texas offered more money than the Mets had, to the best of public knowledge. I don’t blame anyone who reacts to this article with this line of thinking.

Ultimately, though, we’re defined by our choices. And deGrom left the organization he had been with for 13 years, one coming off a 101-win season and one who wanted him back. He made his choice to leave, one completely within his rights. Lee’s organization wanted him back, too. But he made a choice to switch teams over vision.

We know how it worked out for Lee. In the words of the Last Knight, “He chose … poorly.” Maybe it works out better for deGrom. But if it doesn’t, hopefully he doesn’t try to downplay his actions like Lee did and attempt to get back in the good graces of his former organization.

11 comments on “Using The Civil War, ‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘Indiana Jones’ to assess Jacob deGrom’s place in Mets lore

  • JamesTOB

    If deGrom is a traitor to the Mets, then the Mets are suborning treason with every free agent they have signed.

  • Mike W

    This is powerful article. I saw an article on Max Scherzer buying a new house in Long Island. He had his young daughter on his shoulders and had a Mets sweatshirt on. Yes, Max was smiling. You see, I believe that Max Scherzer wants to be here and is excited about it.

    I really feel that deGrom did not want to be in New York any longer. I think it was more where he and his young family wanted to be in Texas and away from the lights and pressure of New York. He just didn’t seem happy.

    Of course he is going to tow the party line in Texas. But I bet he will really dislike it when they stink for the next five years.

    The best revenge is winning the World Series. With Cohen, there are a lot more players who want to come to New York to win.

  • Foxdenizen

    General Lee was no traitor. Nowhere in the Constitution was there any mention of the union of states being permanent. The articles of Confederation, in effect immediately after the Revolution, did specify that it was to be in effect in “perpetuity,” yet within a couple of years the states had all left it and it was replaced by the Constitution. Were all those governors and legislators who led their state out of the confederation to be considered traitors? And if you consider General Lee a traitor, then people like George Washington, Simon Bolivar, Lech Walesa, and probably Gandhi would have to be considered traitors as well.

  • Hobie

    I’m hoping this is all tongue-in-cheek, if not I am howling inappropriately. Thanks, intended or not, for the laugh.
    In strictly Metphila terms, I think of deGrom in kind with Mike Hampton & John Olerud—sympathetic disappointment. I was angry at the Mets for Seaver and the would be franchise players who threw their careers away through the nose, and maybe Noah a little, but not here.
    As to rank in my Metheart, probably below Al Jackson & maybe Steve Dillon whose inning in the O’timers Day game brought me to tears.
    Hessians and traitors (yes, Lee)? Nah…and I missed the Indiana Jones reference—the guy who backed into the airplane prop?

  • Bob P

    I was very disappointed to lose deGrom, but I don’t see him as a traitor or anything of the sort. He made a decision to leave the Mets for another team. To the best of my knowledge he hasn’t said specifically what the key factors were in his decision. My assumption is that it was partly the money and partly where he and his family wanted to live, but those are just assumptions. He has every right to make those decisions on his own. He should do what makes him happy. We all have that right. I won’t pretend to know what’s important to the deGrom family.

    I remember when Robinson Cano left the Yankees for Seattle and in his first game back at Yankee Stadium the fans were chanting “You sold out” at him. This made me laugh coming from Yankee teams who were loaded with mercenaries that came to the team for the most money. Half their team were “sell outs” under that logic. The Mets have done the same by bringing in expensive players for more money than anyone else. To James’s point above, it seems hard to be annoyed with deGrom when we just replaced him with last year’s unanimous AL Cy Young winner at a league record for annual salary. We would be following in the Yankees fans’ footsteps in the Cano situation.

  • Paulc

    The Almighty Dollar almost always wins. The only time it didn’t in an MLB free agent signing, as far as I recall (I’m omitting bigger deals that were declined due to lots of deferred money like Bryce Harper, etc.), is when Cliff Lee signed with Philly for less money because he wanted to win a World Series and his wife supposedly loved Philly and hated Yankees fans based on her experience when he played for Texas.

    No one can blame Jake for taking more money. But if the reports are true that he did not give the Mets a chance to counteroffer the Rangers deal, then he wanted out of NY and go to a place more culturally familiar to him. I doubt he’ll make it to the playoffs with the Rangers, but he’ll have all that money to comfort him.

  • Footballhead

    My take on deGrom was that he was a very pleasant surprise for the Mets, and for all of baseball. He really was a pleasant breath of fresh air in his earlier years, and he seemed to take the Mets inability to hold leads or score runs for him in stride. But……. you got to believe that eventually; the failure of racking up wins, had to stick in his craw. His demeanor in the last three years or so was of somebody waiting for the other shoe to drop as his brilliant pitching yielded….nothing but accolades and injuries.
    I don’t blame him for seeking new pastures, but I’m also not upset at the Mets for “losing” him.

  • T.J.

    For whatever reason, I had virtually no emotion related to the deGrom departure. I still don’t fully understand why myself…most likely a combination of being somewhat long in the tooth, reading his body language and expecting his departure, confidence that Uncle Steve would fill that void, not having him available for the majority of the last two seasons, etc.

    Traitor? Not even close. These players are captive to their employers for a long time, and they take into account multiple factors besides allegiance to an organization. Now, if he went to the Braves, and for significantly less, then my emotions would likely push me to consider this vilification. Texas? Nah. That may be the least offensive of the big spenders for me. It’s not the National League. It’s not the Yankees or Red Sox. It’s not the defending champion Astros.

  • ChrisF

    Lee was a traitor to the USA on that there can be no doubt. He raised an army against his country. Its even more maddening given his father was revolutionary war patriot Light Horse Harry Lee, and his grandfather also served in the Revolution so he committed treason against the country his family was critical in establishing. I dont get the sense that deGrom was just “sick of NY” as much as I believe he was eager to return to the Confederacy – keeping with your Civil War analogy. He got a great deal in Texas, so good for him. He did his job here to the best of his ability and it was amazing. He got offered a contract too insane to refuse, and it aligned with his clear desire to leave NY. I wish him the best until he plays against the Mets, then I hope his right arm falls off!!

  • NYM6986

    After a few days of being able to resign with the Mets he still had not. That to me was a sign that he was not coming back. Whatever his reasons, despite great disappointment, I wish him well. He was something special and could have been the best we ever had, and yes I am a Seaver fan. I enjoyed watching him pitch and making batters look foolish. Hard to think he won’t be on our team but it’s time to turn the page. Our pitching staff is stronger this year then next. LGM

  • Boombokm

    Yeah. If he had gone to Atlanta or San Diego etc or taken less money to play somewhere else I’d be pissed. But he took the Nolan Ryan route and went where he thought his family would be most comfortable. I ll miss watching him pitch every week.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 100 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here