The Mets can exorcise their demons by doing something they couldn’t in the past
Nearly eight full years ago–on September 14, 2007 to be exact–the Mets entered a series with the Philadelphia Phillies–a series that very well could have ended the race in the National League East for good.
Going into the first contest of their three-game set, the Mets had a robust seven-game lead over the second-place Phillies with just 17 games to play. New York’s magic number was 11.
“We’re in great shape right now,” outfielder Shawn Green told Newsday’s David Lennon two nights prior. “For the rest of the way, we’re in the driver’s seat.”
He was right. The Mets were in the driver’s seat… Until they let it get away.
You’ve all heard the story. Most of you reading this right now lived it, and some of you may have been re-living it in your head’s over the past eight seasons that have felt like an eternity.
The Mets never wound up making the postseason in 2007, as their seven-game lead got away from them in the final two-and-a-half weeks of the season and the worst collapse (at the time) in Major League Baseball history was complete. And it all started when the Mets were swept by the Phillies in that three-game series.
The 2015 version of the Mets enter a similar situation over these next three days, albeit with a four-game lead in their division and not seven. Still though, over the course of this three-game series, the Mets can do one of two things–keep the Nationals playoff hopes very much alive, or leave D.C. with Washington gasping for air.
Things have gotten a little bit tighter over the past weekend, as the Nationals reduced the Mets 6.5-game lead in the division to four in a matter of four days; four days in which the Mets’ magic number only went down by one.
After a very disappointing series loss in Miami to an inferior Marlins team that included two walk-off losses–reminiscent to some of past September performances against that pesky franchise–and the Nationals demolished the laboring Atlanta Braves, who have now lost 12 consecutive games, the race is on in the NL East and some Mets fans are starting to get nervous. Honestly, it’s hard to blame them at this point.
While I don’t and haven’t advocated anyone even uttering the word “collapse” every single time something bad has happened to the Mets over the past couple weeks, it is still a scar that remains prevalent in the hearts and minds of everyone who’s a part of this dedicated fanbase.
But this is a new team; a different team. Of the 34 players on their current active roster, only one–David Wright–was on the team during the collapse of 2007, and I’d take a guess that the captain of the team has learned a lot from that failure.
The Nationals are hot right now, the Mets… Not so much. But that’s part of being in a pennant race. There’s no way the Mets were going to keep up their roaring hot play where they reeled off 21 wins in 29 games like they did in August and the Nationals weren’t going to continue to playing sub-500 ball against opponents they were clearly better than. This is September baseball. Winning a division isn’t supposed to be easy.
“We’re going day-by-day and game-by-game,” center fielder Carlos Beltran told Lennon in that fateful September eight season ago. “If we play hard and win ballgames, it will come.”
Unfortunately, as we all know, that division title never did come for the Mets in 2007.
However for the 2015 Mets, things can be different. If they do what it takes to win this series in Washington D.C. this week, they have a chance to put a major dent in the Nationals playoff hopes, reaffirm theirs and may finally, after all this time, put 2007 to bed.