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Jacob deGrom being everything Mets hope is worth future contract angst



The Mets have 60 games left in their regular season when they report for work at Washington’s Nationals Park on Tuesday night. In a best-case scenario, that means Jacob deGrom, who will take the ball for the Mets in the bottom of the first inning, could have a maximum of 12 starts.

Since the words “Mets,” “deGrom” and “best-case” rarely appear in the same paragraph — making the first two paragraphs of this column wild statistical outliers! — the Mets will settle for 11 starts, even 10, assuming there’ll come a time or two when even a healthy deGrom might require an extra day of rest.

There are a few things that will certainly happen in that span:

  •  Mets fans will rejoice at the sight of the first fastball that clicks 100 mph.
  • Mets fans will recoil at the sight of the first fastball that clicks 100 mph — and hold their breath with every other pitch thereafter.
  • DeGrom will give his team and his teammates a lift, because this is the equivalent of making an A+ move at the trade deadline; it is merely returning the favor, since those teammates have done all of the heavy lifting in growing a 65-37 record through the season’s first 102 games after the Mets beat the Nats behind Max Scherzer on Monday, 7-3.
  • DeGrom will continue to answer questions about whether he still intends to opt out at season’s end as he has all season, which is the same way he answered it Sunday in Miami.

“That is still the same,” deGrom said.

Jacob deGrom

That last item is going to rankle Mets fans, sure. Whether it’s fair or not, it feels a bit cold-blooded, especially in this feel-good warm springs of a season. Mets fans have waited patiently for deGrom; for some, this makes it feel like deGrom can’t wait to file separation papers.

DeGrom is doing nothing at all wrong here, of course. For one thing, it was past Mets ownership and past Mets management that approved the extension deGrom signed a few days before the 2019 opener, allowing him the right to opt out after this season. It was a few dollars below market value, that was obvious at the time. It allowed the old ownership to not have to think about deGrom again until they were blissfully sailing on a boat somewhere, counting their sale profits.

And frankly, deGrom is handling this perfectly. He has never once lied about his intentions. And he has never once refused to answer the question, even as he languished on the IL. Transparency is a good thing. Honesty is a good thing. Even if it’s not what Mets fans necessarily want to hear.

Here’s the thing, though:

If deGrom returns at anything close to the version he was last year, when almost every start inspired comparisons to 1968 Bob Gibson, the conversation will soon change. If he is able to conjure anything quite like the 1.08 ERA or the 14.3 strikeout-per-nine-inning rate he motored along to across 15 starts last year … well, Mets fans (and Mets brass) will merrily wait until autumn to resume having anxious thoughts about deGrom’s future.

And that’s the thing, the very best thing about where the Mets find themselves Tuesday, 28 games over .500 and 3 ½ games clear of the Braves (four in the loss column) with the second-best record in the National League:

Jacob deGrom
Bill Kostroun

For a change, for the first time in a very long time, the narrative is about now, the mantra a song of urgency and resoluteness. Even seven years ago, as the 2015 Mets inched within three games of a championship, much of that team was aimed toward the future: a young pitching staff, a young on-the-come outfielder (Michael Conforto) and a young catcher, Travis d’Arnaud. When they lost it was easy to figure they could take a few more swings at the Commissioner’s Trophy.

This time there is no such theme. The Mets are an old team, oldest in the NL. DeGrom is one of a slew of important players who will be free agents after the season, including three-fifths of the rotation. No matter how much cash reserves Steve Cohen may have, they won’t have everyone back. And they still need to budget future riches for Pete Alonso, and sizable increases at various points along the road for Brandon Nimmo and Edwin Diaz (pending free agents) and Jeff McNeil.

So the Mets’ plan has to be to maximize whatever season deGrom can salvage — not recklessly, not dangerously, but to honor the season they’ve already built and the season they hope to have with deGrom at the front of the train — and worry about deGrom in 2023 and beyond when he officially turns in his papers. It is, in many ways, a wonderful Catch-22:

If a team Out There is going to pay top dollar for deGrom, they will certainly do so based on his body of work these next three months. Maybe that means he’ll leave the Mets; and maybe it means he’ll leave behind a championship flag.

The Mets will take that trade-off.

Presumably, Mets fans will too.

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Fantasy football Week 14 waiver wire advice: Act quick after big injuries



Quick hitters and waiver wire advice for a handful of notable players after Week 13 of the fantasy football season:

Hire learning

Zonovan Knight RB, Jets

A week late to this, because we thought James Robinson would get worked into a significant role. We no longer harbor that belief. We like Knight as long as Michael Carter remains sidelined.

DeeJay Dallas RB, Seahawks

Rashaad Penny and Travis Homer already were out. Then rookie starter Kenneth Walker went down with an ankle issue Sunday. If he misses time, expect Dallas to lead a two-headed committee with Tony Jones Jr.

D.J. Chark WR, Lions

The Detroit offense is rolling, and with Chark looking 100 percent again, he should provide enough production to warrant an occasional fantasy start as Amon-Ra St. Brown’s sidekick.

Greg Dulcich TE, Broncos

Led all tight ends in Week 13 targets (8) heading into Monday. With that kind of volume, he can produce even with the nadir version of Russell Wilson as his QB.

The Seahawks’ DeeJay Dallas
Getty Images

Promote from within

Geno Smith QB, Seahawks

With “Seattle running back” now the most dangerous job in America, expect the Seahawks to lean more heavily on the passing game. So the Great Geno Awakening becomes even “awakener.”

Brian Robinson RB, Commanders

Washington has a bye next week, but we like the volume we’ve seen recently from Robinson. Reminds us of James Conner: Not terribly flashy, but good enough to produce if given enough opportunity.

AJ Dillon RB, Packers

Had a nice game while Aaron Jones was dealing with a shin issue. If that issue lingers past the upcoming bye week, we’re on board with starting Dillon, even against a relatively stout Rams run D.

Cam Akers RB, Rams

Akers has at various times been the assumed heir to the feature role to banished to the bench. Now, he’s back to toil with our emotions and rosters again. Gets bad run defenses next two weeks — Raiders and Packers.

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NFL power rankings for Week 14: Bengals rising with new team on top



Any predictions of a Super Bowl 47 rematch took a big hit last weekend.

The San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens both lost their starting quarterbacks. Make that two season-ending injuries at quarterback in the top-heavy NFC for the 49ers, as free-agent-to-be Jimmy Garoppolo joins Trey Lance on the bench.

The news is potentially better for the Ravens, who consider Lamar Jackson’s availability “week to week” with a sprained knee. The Ravens’ 2021 season fell apart in December when Jackson missed five starts. The AFC — and the North Division’s hard-charging Bengals — doesn’t offer much margin for error again.

Here are The Post’s NFL power rankings for Week 14:

1. Philadelphia Eagles 11-1 (2)

A.J. Brown finished with eight catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns in his first game back in Tennessee since a blockbuster trade on draft night. Jalen Hurts keeps climbing up MVP ballots, as he threw for three touchdowns and ran for another in a 35-10 win against the Titans. The Eagles are 11-1 for the fourth time — first since 2004.

Jalen Hurts and the Eagles are back at No. 1.

2. Buffalo Bills 9-3 (4)

Josh Allen became the first player in NFL history with three seasons of at least 25 touchdown passes and five rushing touchdowns as the Bills won in Foxborough, Mass., for the third straight time, with a 24-10 victory against the Patriots. The Bills, who had started 0-2 in the AFC East, pressured Mac Jones plenty, even without the injured Von Miller.

3. Dallas Cowboys 9-3 (5)

Who needs free agent Odell Beckham Jr.? Dak Prescott threw two touchdown passes to Michael Gallup and another to CeeDee Lamb in a 54-19 demolition of the Colts. Tony Pollard rushed for two scores. One interception helped turn a one-point lead into eight before halftime and a second essentially ended the game with less than 11 minutes remaining.

4. Minnesota Vikings 10-2 (6)

The Vikings improved to 9-0 in one-score games and completed a four-game sweep of the AFC East with a 27-22 win against the Jets. Camryn Bynum sealed the victory with an interception at the 1-yard line with 10 seconds remaining, assuring that a 20-3 third-quarter lead didn’t go to waste. Justin Jefferson scored a touchdown and set up another with a tough over-the-middle catch.

5. Cincinnati Bengals 8-4 (8)

Joe Burrow is proving to be a worthy nemesis for Patrick Mahomes. The Bengals beat the Chiefs for the third time in the 2022 calendar year, with Burrow completing 6 of 7 passes on the game-winning 53-yard touchdown drive. Ja’Marr Chase returned, but Joe Mixon did not. Samaje Perine rushed for 106 yards in Mixon’s absence.

Tee Higgins celebrates during the Bengal’s win over the Chiefs.

6. Kansas City Chiefs 9-3 (1)

Harrison Butker missed a potential game-tying field goal as time expired in a 27-24 loss to the Bengals. The bigger surprise was that Travis Kelce lost a fumble at the end of a 19-yard gain with the Chiefs leading by four points early in the fourth quarter. The loss allowed Buffalo to take the lead in the chase for the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs.

7. San Francisco 49ers 8-4 (7)

Welcome to the Brock Purdy Era. Garoppolo suffered a broken foot in a 33-17 win against the Dolphins. The last pick of the 2022 draft, Purdy didn’t look like a Mr. Irrelevant as he threw for 210 yards and two touchdowns. A dominant defense forced two interceptions that led to field goals and scored a touchdown on a fumble return.

8. Miami Dolphins 8-4 (3)

Head coach Mike McDaniels’ first game against the 49ers since spending five years there as an offensive assistant did not go well. Lip readers caught him admitting that he “f–ked up” after burning a first-half timeout. The Dolphins’ streaks of five straight wins and four games with 30-plus points were snapped despite one Tua Tagovailoa-to-Tyreek Hill touchdown bomb.

9. Baltimore Ravens 8-4 (9)

Tyler Huntley led a 16-play, 91-yard drive (aided by two defensive penalties) that he capped with a 2-yard touchdown run with 28 seconds remaining to beat the Broncos, 10-9. The defense’s 14-game streak of forcing a takeaway ended, but Roquan Smith (11 tackles) had his most-active game since he was acquired at the trade deadline.

Lamar Jackson
Getty Images

10. Tennessee Titans 7-5 (10)

Treylon Burks — drafted with the pick acquired from the Eagles for A.J. Brown — caught a touchdown pass, but Ryan Tannehill (141 passing yards and six sacks) and Derrick Henry (11 carries for 30 yards) couldn’t get anything going. In losing a second straight, the Titans’ last six possessions ended with five punts and a turnover on downs.

11. Seattle Seahawks 7-5 (12)

12. Washington Commanders 7-5-1 (11)

13.New York Giants 7-4-1 (13)

Five different players had sacks, including Azeez Ojulari’s that led to a fumble he also recovered. That takeaway set up Daniel Jones’ lone touchdown pass in a 20-20 tie against Washington, which has lost just once in its last eight games. Nearly automatic kicker Graham Gano missed a 58-yard field goal into the wind as time expired in overtime.

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-6 (17)

15. New England Patriots 6-6 (15)

16. New York Jets 7-5 (16)

One touchdown on six trips into the red zone and three conversions on 16 third downs weighed down all the positives in the loss to the Vikings. Garrett Wilson went off with eight catches for 162 yards, but a late fourth-and-goal throw went to Braxton Berrios and slipped through his fingers. Mike White’s 57 passes are too many for a supposedly run-based offense.

17. Los Angeles Chargers 6-6 (14)

18. Pittsburgh Steelers 5-7 (22)

19. Detroit Lions 5-7 (23)

20. Las Vegas Raiders 5-7 (25)

21. Atlanta Falcons 5-8 (18)

22. Arizona Cardinals 4-8 (21)

23. Cleveland Browns 5-7 (28)

24. Green Bay Packers 5-8 (26)

25. Indianapolis Colts 4-8-1 (20)

26. Jacksonville Jaguars 4-8 (19)

27. New Orleans Saints 4-9 (24)

28. Carolina Panthers 4-8 (27)

29. Los Angeles Rams 3-9 (29)

30. Chicago Bears 3-10 (30)

31. Denver Broncos 3-9 (31)

32. Houston Texans 1-10-1 (32)

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How the 1% Runs an Ironman



Half the people who finish an Ironman cross it off their bucket list and never do it again. XCers, meanwhile, always seem to be training for the next race, and the race weekends feel more like a reunion of alpha-achievers — the kind of people who approach an ultraendurance race as if it’s a giant escape room. They get hooked, not just on the challenge but on solving it together, and then the next goal becomes not merely finishing the race but placing high enough to qualify for the Ironman World Championship, held every October in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. Few words all weekend in Mont-Tremblant will be uttered with more frequency, and more hushed reverence, than Kona. Qualifying for Kona is like getting into Valhalla.

Ironman dates back to 1978, when John and Judy Collins, Hawaii transplants and avid triathletes, proposed a three-leg, swimming-biking-running 140.6-mile endurance race around the perimeter of Oahu. “Whoever finishes first,” John declared, according to legend, “we’ll call him the Iron Man.” The turning point for the sport occurred just four years later in 1982, captured by ABC’s “Wide World of Sports”: a 23-year-old amateur named Julie Moss, who trained for the race at the last minute, leading until the final yards, mile 140.5 out of 140.6, when the muscles in her limbs seized up, and she soiled herself and crumpled to the ground. She kept staggering to her feet, kept collapsing, then finally crawled to the finish line and touched it in second place. Thousands of viewers witnessed this on ABC and said, “Sign me up.”

Ironman XC began in 2009, or more accurately it was rebooted and rebranded from a program called the CEO Challenge, Ironman’s original attempt to capitalize on the executive class’s booming interest in the sport. Since then, the parent company has flourished, spinning off fresh categories, subsuming established distance races and hosting multiple events every weekend all over the world. (Advance Publications, which owns Condé Nast, bought the Ironman Group in 2020 for $730 million.) Over the same period, effective leadership has undergone a rethink similar to Ironman itself, a shift from the original metaphor — unbending, unstoppable, indestructible — to a kind of radical mind-body balance, the seemingly paradoxical notion that the right kind of not working holds the key to improving your work. Take sleep, which used to be for the soft and weak, a thing lazy people did while the masters of the universe were busy crushing it around the clock. “A lack of sleep used to be a badge of toughness amongst high-performing people,” Dixon says. “Now it’s a badge of stupidity. Every single high-performing C.E.O. that I work with prioritizes sleep. Every single one. I don’t work with a C.E.O. who doesn’t sleep at least seven hours every night.”

Ironman is no one’s idea of a spectator sport, and the XC hosts can only do so much about that, but without proper guidance it can be miserable, like chasing mirages in a desert. So by dawn on race day, Ford’s attention shifts to the XC families. It helps turn one of the most solitary, all-consuming, self-prioritizing pursuits in sports into a family vacation. The XC treatment, in fact, was the main reason Le Jamtel’s wife and son tagged along.

At 6:15 a.m., long after the athletes had left to inspect their bikes, Ford escorted the XC families around the lake to a V.I.P. hut on the beach for a quick final rendezvous with their loved ones. On a slender patch of sand outside, the rest of the Ironman field stood around shaking out their limbs and waiting — 2,000 queasy warriors in black wet suits, bracing themselves to charge into the water through a giant inflatable arch presented by Subaru, like a reverse amphibious assault on Normandy.

Minutes before the opening howitzer blast, Ford led the XC V.I.P.s through a special lane, past a small pen of spectators, past the public-address tower and out onto a spatula-shaped gray pontoon that stretched 100 feet into the water, where they joined about 20 Ironman officials and former champions and race photographers. This might be the only good angle from which to watch an Ironman start, which is too bad because so few people get to enjoy it, and what a sight. The morning sky like blue lacquer on porcelain, the breeze off the Lac, and mere feet away, the thrash of dozens of racers tearing through the water.

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