Tha Sports Junkies 101

Mets Get It Started: New York Storming into October

Arturo Pardavila III/Via


The New York Mets are the team of destiny in 2016.

Earlier this year, I wrote an article where I proclaimed that the New York Mets would fail to reach the postseason.  Anyone who knows me personally can tell you how deeply my love for Mets baseball runs through my veins.  But win or lose, I’m always honest with myself about them.  

As a college student, it is tough to catch games on television, especially when your cable package isn’t very sufficient.  On Wednesday night, I checked my phone to see what the score of the Mets game was.  The Atlanta Braves held a 4-3 lead over New York, but the Mets had runners on first and second with nobody out.  With Yoenis Cespedes coming to the plate, I figured that now might be a good time to use to see how it would end.

La Potencia” ripped a ball towards the wall in right center field, right in front of the far end of the visitors’ bullpen in Citi Field.  Ender Inciarte, who the Braves acquired in the Shelby Miller trade (thanks Tony LaRussa), leaped in the air and pulled the ball back with his glove, essentially stabbing a stake through the heart of every Mets’ fan watching the game.  I sat down and thought to myself, “The Mets just lost in the most Met-like fashion ever.”  They make losing an art form.  It’s almost like a movie script about an underdog who doesn’t quite accomplish his goal after everything he’s been through.

After the Mets had run roughshod in September, the lowly Atlanta Braves kicked them in the mouth.  New York went 11-5 in the month before being swept by Atlanta, which seemed like a nail in the coffin for the Mets’ playoff hopes.  After playing so well, a 90-loss team went into Citi Field with very little to play for, and took all three games from the Mets.  Often times as a Mets fan, you’re taken on an emotional roller coaster with many twists and turns throughout the season.  Sometimes on roller coasters, you think that the ride is over before it really is.  Wednesday night, thousands of Mets fans, myself included, thought that this hopeless ride was coming to a close.

On Thursday evening, the Philadelphia Phillies came to Queens to battle the reigning National League Champions.  After a back and forth game, the Mets found themselves facing defeat for the fourth consecutive night.  Jose Reyes came to bat in the bottom of the ninth inning with one man on base.  Reyes, who arguably has been just as valuable as Yoenis Cespedes down the stretch, clubbed a two-run, game-tying home run.  The Mets had given me hope, but hope has never gotten the Mets very far.  Unsurprisingly, the Phillies reclaimed the lead in the top of the 11th, and they headed into the bottom half of the frame up 8-6.

Reyes had already done his part, so it would be his coworker on the left side of the infield that had to pick up the slack.  Asdrubal Cabrera launched a walk-off home run over the fence in right field, and followed it up with an emphatic bat flip.  The fans inside of Citi Field roared as Cabrera rounded the bases.  Reyes’ home run gave me hope; Cabrera’s made me believe.

2016 has not been an easy year on the New York Mets.  But after everything I have seen, and after every doubt that I have had, I can say one thing is for certain: The New York Mets are the Team of Destiny in 2016.

At this point in the Mets season, the roster is loaded with players who are no-names to the casual baseball fan.  David Wright, Yoenis Cespedes, Lucas Duda, Cabrera, Travis d’Arnaud, Steven Matz, Noah Syndergaard, and Reyes have all been injured throughout the season.  Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Neil Walker have all been shut down for the year.  Zack Wheeler never made the July return that he was supposed to.  Michael Conforto virtually disappeared after the month of April.  The front office acquired Jay Bruce from the Cincinnati Reds at the trade deadline, but the slugging outfielder has failed to contribute since changing uniforms.

The Mets went over a month without winning two consecutive games.  The team was plodding along in the summer, watching the Washington Nationals pull away in the National League East.  After dominating in August last season, New York only managed to go 15-14 this year.  Manager Terry Collins kept pulling the wrong strings, yet here the Mets are holding a lead on the first Wild Card spot.

Despite all their setbacks, there have been a considerable amount of bright spots.  Cabrera and Reyes have been incredibly value to the Mets.  Jacob deGrom was extremely efficient before the club shut him down until next season.  Bartolo Colon has been a stalwart in the rotation.  Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia have become quite the deadly duo at the back end of the bullpen.  Although he has only batted .225 in 2016, Curtis Granderson has 29 home runs to his credit.  When healthy, Yoenis Cespedes has been worth every penny the Mets paid him this offseason.

2016 has been the year of the Cubs.  Kris Bryant has led his young, upstart team to their first Central Division Championship since 2008.  Joe Maddon has shown incredible innovation when crafting his lineups.  There is no doubt that the Cubs should be considered favorites to win the World Series.  But what adversity have they faced?  Kyle Schwarber went down early in the season, but there has been no subsequent struggle following his injury.  Everything has gone right for the Cubs as it did for the Mets last year, but that didn’t result in a World Series Trophy for New York.

Some people may point out the Mets lack of pitching depth as their biggest pitfall now that Jacob deGrom has been lost for the season.  But the Kansas City Royals proved that you can win in October without star pitching.  The 2015 champs relied on speed, defense, timely hitting, and a great bullpen en route to their first title since 1985.  To be fair, the Mets have failed to display any of those attributes throughout most of the season.  Since signing Jose Reyes, though, the team has stolen considerably more bases.  Yoenis Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera have been clutch in big spots down the stretch, bolstering the offense.  You could argue that Familia and Reed are one of if not the best 8th and 9th inning bullpen combinations in baseball.

The New York Mets are not perfect by any means.  But in October, you don’t need to be perfect to win.  All it takes is a streaky team to play some high level baseball for a few weeks, and it could result in a championship.  If the Mets can carry their current production into the playoffs, don’t be surprised when they’re hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy this fall.