NY Mets: redeem team
2006, Carlos Beltran is up at bat with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth. There are two outs and it is Game 7 of the NLCS. He’s facing a young rookie pitcher named Adam Wainwright. He quickly goes down 0-2 in the count. The 0-2 pitch comes to him and he watches it go right by him for a strike, season over.
2007, the New York Mets are 21 games above .500 in the middle of September. They collapse down the stretch, but they have a chance on the final day of the season to get into the playoffs. Tom Glavine promptly gives up seven runs in the top of the first and that was the season.
2008, the Mets once again find themselves in the playoff hunt in mid-September, but once again collapse, losing on the final day of the season to eliminate themselves. Yes, that happened two years in a row.
2009-2014, the New York Mets are horrible. They constantly find themselves at the bottom of the National League. They burn through three managers, five hitting coaches, and countless players; many of whom were career minor leaguers who were just bad. Not to mention, in these years the owners of the Mets, the Wilpon family, were in the midst of a serious lawsuit that questioned their involvement and friendship with Bernie Madoff and his ponzi scheme.
Needless to say, these nine seasons caused a lot of heartbreak, angst and general sadness for their fans. So when 2015 came around, the fans were skeptical of their team, and rightfully so. The 2013 and 2014 seasons were proclaimed to be the rebirth of the team from the ownership; when the Mets would rise out of the ashes and defeat their demons. 2015 was once again promised to be the year the Mets would finally get over the hump.
The season started off wonderfully. The Mets had an 11-game winning streak in April that quickly got them to the top of the NL East early on in the season. Yet, during this streak, David Wright got hurt. The heart, soul, and captain of the team’s injury caused many fans to start looking forward to the next year. In May, the Mets lost another important part to their team, Travis d’Arnaud. This injury meant the Mets lost a majority of their offense from the 2014 season, and Mets fans began to lose hope for the season. This hope was even further broken when the Mets had a stretch between mid-May and July that saw them barely managing to average two runs a game.
Something changed during this horrific-offensive stretch: the Mets didn’t really lose any ground in the NL East. That’s because the team’s pitching, which had long been promised during the “down years” as the savior of the team, was shown off to the fan-base and Major League Baseball. The Mets had 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, Jacob deGrom pitching well. Matt Harvey, proclaimed the “Dark Knight” and viewed as the Mets savior during the 2013 season before Tommy John Surgery, returned with a vengeance. The Mets also saw the debut of two of the brightest pitching prospects in the game, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, who both impressed tremendously and showed poise beyond their years as they managed to pick up wins even when their offense didn’t help. The Mets managed to stick in the season despite having no offense; something seemed…different about this team.
Right before the trade deadline, the greatest trade in Mets history happened. Or perhaps, I should say the best trade that never happened. It was announced that Carlos Gomez, star centerfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers would be coming to the Mets in exchange for Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores. This non-trade is predominantly known for leading to Flores crying on the field thinking he was leaving the team he called home. The trade eventually fell apart, Gomez was not a Met. For a brief second the fan-base was aggravated thinking that they were tricked into believing that the Mets had made a huge move, not to mention that one of their players was embarrassed in front of the world. That was until the Mets made the biggest move of the season, acquiring Yoenis Cespedes, an absolute monster who promised to bring swagger, leadership, and above else: offense to a starving team.
Two days after the non-trade (and a day after the Cespedes trade), the Mets had the biggest series of the season to that point facing the first place Washington Nationals. The Mets were three games back of first. In game one of the series, the Mets and Nats were stuck in a stalwart until Wilmer Flores became an automatic hero and fan favorite…he hit a walk off homer to put the Mets back two games. The Mets would take the next two games of the series as well, earning a sweep and a tie of first. The team would not look back.
On September 26, the Mets finally redeemed their horrible seasons of past. They clinched the NL East and would be heading back to the playoffs for the first time since Beltran watched strike three. The Mets got into the playoffs, and promptly won a difficult Los Angeles Dodgers team on the road to win the NLDS. Next, they did the unthinkable; they swept the Chicago Cubs and the Mets were finally in the World Series!
Unfortunately, their journey would end there. Ironically the characteristics of the bad New York Met teams of seasons past showed for the team in the World Series: bad baserunning, shaky fielding and losing. But any Mets fan was beyond happy with the result. No one expected the team to be in that position in mid-April. The team that had caused so much angst for them had given them so much pleasure. The new, New York Mets were finally born.