NEW YORK — Francisco Lindor will make $341 million over 10 years with the Mets, but he can’t buy what he craves most. A World Series ring, for sure. But also a World Series sweatshirt.
He showed up to work Thursday, the day before the Mets faced the Padres in the three-game National League Wild-Card Series, to find the next best thing waiting in his locker: a pile of stuff with the word POSTSEASON written on it.
“It’s really nice to go to a club and smell the new gear you get,” he said, his smile taking up half his face. “I am like a little child.”
He added: “This is the best time of the year. Spring training is great, because you get nice things, but this is the best time.”
Indeed, players on both teams Thursday were buzzing about their playoff gear. The wardrobe includes t-shirts, hoodies and hats, as well as post-season patch jerseys. The logos change slightly every year. many are emblazoned with the 2022 MLB postseason slogan, which for some reason is the rise of October. The shirts are made of cotton, the hats are made of polyester. They are comfortable, but no more so than anything you can buy at your local sporting goods store. But that’s not the point, of course.
“It’s like you’ve never had a cup of coffee in a really beautiful place,” center Brandon Nimmo said. “You’re like, ‘Oh my god, this cup of coffee is so amazing!’ If I had it back home, it might be the same old coffee, but because of the circumstances surrounding it, it’s awesome.” He added that he’s jealously watched the playoffs on TV for the past five years, since the Mets last made it in 2016, watching the games — and also watching the gear.
Lindor just completed his eighth year in the majors, and Friday will mark his fifth playoff appearance, including a 2016 World Series game with Cleveland. A cellar in his Florida home is filled with all the pairs of New Balance sneakers the company sends him. he delivers them to anyone in his orbit. But the gear still smells good.
“I am human!” he said. “Whenever you get something new and cool, it feels good. And you work all season and you show up on the field and you’ve got a hoodie like this, you’ve got a hat with a new patch, a new jersey, you feel good.” He added, “We cannot forget how blessed we are in life.”
And, players point out, they like what the hardware represents. “To be able to win that patch that says postseason, winning that postseason patch on your hat — that’s sick,” said first baseman Pete Alonso, who is about to get his first taste of the playoffs and bought new bats to mark the occasion. “It’s great to get new things, but to be a part of something that’s earned, even if it’s as simple as having a postseason patch or whatever—we earned it. We earned that privilege to have it on our jersey. We won [the chance] to be able to have these new things that not everyone gets.” He added, “It’s almost like a rite of passage.”
Running back Terrance Gore has built rosters for eight postseason series: the 2014 AL wild-card game, ALDS, ALCS and World Series with the Royals. the ’15 ALDS, ALCS and World Series with the Royals. the ’18 NL wild-card game with the Cubs. and the ’21 NLDS, NLCS and World Series with Atlanta. He is almost certain to make the wild card roster this year for the Mets. (That’s more than half as many playoff rosters as he has regular-season hits in his career. Eight.) So he’s something of an expert in that department.
He explained that his teammates are thinking small with their enthusiasm for hoodies: A few years ago, Beats handed out new headphones to everyone on the roster, and he likes to collect his locker signs, a new one for each set. Don’t expect new bats for him this October — he doesn’t use them much anyway — but he said he will debut new cleats. He declined to give details of their plan. “Wait and see,” he said with a smile.
Alonso was willing to show off his new bats but not to photograph them. “I can’t make you post this!” he said. (He added that they were the same as his at-bats in the regular season, but they were young.)
Even the snacks and drinks are replaced for the playoffs as sponsors change. Clubs rip logos off water bottles to avoid upsetting someone who has paid a lot of money for players to appear to drink something else. The pit scenes also fade. (None of the respondents seemed willing to take them home.)
The only downside to all this stuff is figuring out what to do with it after October. Gore keeps his swag in what he calls his man cave. Nimmo’s is in a closet. You can’t really wear it again—”You’re going to go into kangaroo court” for it, said Padres reliever Craig Stammen, who in his 13th season now has swag from four different playoff series. Mostly you hang on to it as a memento from a proud time in your life. Maybe you’ll pass it on to your kids. Maybe stick your nose in there and see if you can still smell the champagne.
Gore, for one, is eager to add to his collection. Out of all the tools from all the series, which item is his favorite?
He paused and considered the aesthetic value of each individual logo, the comfort level of each T-shirt and sweatshirt. Then he smiled and said, “The ones with World Series written all over them.”
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