Game 1 for the Mets, who may not be the same old Mets

Credit where it’s due: Showalter is the best manager the Mets have had since Davey Johnson. The list after him: Bud Harrelson, Jeff Thorborg, Dallas Green, Bobby Valentine, Art Howe, Willie Randolph, Jerry Manuel, Terry Collins, Mickey Callaway and Luis Rojas. Only Randolph and Collins took a division title.

If the teams split the next four — a nightcap is set for Saturday — the Mets would be 4-1/2 games ahead of the Braves. The Mets saw their 10-1/2 game streak since June 1 cut to half a game on July 23, but have since won nine of 10. There’s plenty of time to screw that up, but this might not be the same old Mets.

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About Deshaun Watson

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson signs autographs for fans after the NFL football team’s training camp, Monday, Aug. 1, 2022, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/Nick Cammett)

Credit: Nick Kamet

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson signs autographs for fans after the NFL football team's training camp, Monday, Aug. 1, 2022, in Berea, Ohio.  (AP Photo/Nick Cammett)

Credit: Nick Kamet

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson signs autographs for fans after the NFL football team’s training camp, Monday, Aug. 1, 2022, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/Nick Cammett)

Credit: Nick Kamet

Credit: Nick Kamet

The NFL will appeal arbitrator Sue L. Williams’ decision to suspend Cleveland quarterback Deshaun Watson for six games over multiple sexual assault allegations. Williams’ sentence reads worse than it is: She acknowledged that Watson acted in a “nonchalant” manner, but felt NFL precedent negated a longer suspension.

The appeal will be heard by Peter S. Harvey, a former attorney general of New Jersey. He’s under pressure. NFL lobbies Watson to miss entire season; Williams ordered just a third of that. She did not impose a fine or require Watson to undergo counseling. However, she noted the lack of much remorse.

The NFL agreed with its players association that it would be fairer if the league appointed a disciplinary office, as opposed to commissioner Roger Goodell, to handle such cases. The NFL also reserved the last word. If Harvey were to order a full-year suspension, Goodell would have to approve it, which he almost certainly would — and that’s what the NFLPA didn’t want.

The overwhelming reaction to Williams’ decision was that six games wasn’t enough, even though we’re assuming Watson wasn’t charged with a crime. The NFL has a personal conduct policy that is not the same as state/federal law. It now appears as if Watson is subject to double jeopardy, which the laws normally preclude. The idea was to keep Goodell from being judge and jury, but here it is.

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About the Padres

San Diego Padres’ Juan Soto celebrates with his teammates after scoring on an RBI single by Josh Bell during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Credit: Gregory Bull

San Diego Padres' Juan Soto celebrates with his teammates after scoring on an RBI single by Josh Bell during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, in San Diego.  (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Credit: Gregory Bull

San Diego Padres’ Juan Soto celebrates with his teammates after scoring on an RBI single by Josh Bell during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Credit: Gregory Bull

Credit: Gregory Bull

They have Manny Machado. They will bring back Fernando Tatis from injury rehabilitation. They just traded for Juan Soto. They have loaded up to the point where they are now being seen as the NL’s next great team. Didn’t we come here?

The Padres hired AJ Preller as general manager in 2014. He was credited with winning the following offseason, bringing in Matt Kemp, James Shields, Derek Norris, Will Myers, Will Middlebrooks, Craig Kimbrel, Justin Upton and BJ Upton. This team, advertised to the skies, never left the ground.

The 2015 Padres finished 74-88. Kimbrel and the Upton brothers, all acquired by the Braves, were gone after one year. Shields was traded to the White Sox in June 2016 for Tatis. Kemp was dumped by the Braves over Hector Olivera’s contract. (Remember Hector Olivera?) To his credit, Preller went all-in on rebuilding his farm system. Then again, he wouldn’t have had to rebuild if he hadn’t jettisoned Max Fried, Trea Turner, Jace Peterson and Matt Wisler.

Oh, and the Padres sent a competitive 2015 balance pick to the Braves in the Kimbrel deal. The player taken was Austin Riley.

Preller is still in place despite serving a 30-day suspension in 2016 for what was less than forthcoming regarding the health of pitcher Drew Pomeranz, whom he had sent to the Red Sox. Even without Tatis, San Diego is positioned to make the playoffs. Their only postseason appearance under Preller came after the shortened 2020 season.

Machado, Tatis and Soto are great players, but the Padres aren’t known for maximizing resources. Not counting the 60-game COVID season, this should be the first San Diego team to finish over .500 since 2010. He can make the playoffs. He could make a lot of playoff runs over the next few seasons. For the record, I’ll believe it when I see it.

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For the 2022 Braves

Atlanta Braves third baseman Austin Riley reacts after hitting a solo home run during the eighth inning against the New York Mets at Truist Park, Wednesday, July 13, 2022, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Atlanta Braves third baseman Austin Riley reacts after hitting a solo home run during the eighth inning against the New York Mets at Truist Park, Wednesday, July 13, 2022, in Atlanta.  (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Atlanta Braves third baseman Austin Riley reacts after hitting a solo home run during the eighth inning against the New York Mets at Truist Park, Wednesday, July 13, 2022, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Remember when we believed the Braves were underrated in the preseason? (They were, ahem, the defending champs.) Their over/under was 89.5. As of Thursday, BetOnline reset that number to 97.5.

Overall, it looks like this is a bad year to downsize. No one is over/under over 96.5. The Dodgers, Astros, Yankees, Mets, and Braves have to top that.