The Mets are on the brink of doing something which seemed impossible just 2 months ago…
Throughout the first six months of my time writing for MLBAM, I’ve rarely written a piece from the first person perspective.
Now seems like an appropriate time to do so, considering the Mets are on the brink of doing something so difficult for many to even process, let alone experience and believe…
The Mets could be less than 36 hours away from clinching the National League Eastern Division crown if they win two and the Nationals lose two.
Three months ago – hell, even two months ago – that seemed like a mere pipe dream.
After all, it was July 23 when the Mets faced Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers trotting out Eric Campbell and John Mayberry Jr. in the third and fourth spots in the lineup.
They had no chance that night with that configuration, long before either of them buttoned up their jersey for that game.
But two months later, the Mets have been transformed not only into a playoff team, but a team with a serious shot of being a World Series team if the cards fall properly.
They went from a fragmented roster meandering through the schedule at around .500 to a team which has more or less runaway with the division over the last month.
It’s hard to understand how things can change so quickly.
Yes, the Mets have been incredibly lucky in how so many things turned out for them. There’s no question the Mets have gotten a lot of help from the uninspiring Washington Nationals who were the runaway favorite to not only win the division, but go all the way to the World Series by many media outlets. There was also the pivotal decision to nix the agreed upon trade between the Mets and Brewers which would have sent Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores out and brought Carlos Gomez in.
Instead, it was Yoenis Cespedes they made a set of jerseys for, and it may turn out to be one of the greatest acquisitions this franchise has ever made.
That says a lot, although again, they were both lucky and smart.
What has transpired since has been nothing short of a miracle from my seat. They went from an organization tap dancing around their needs, hoping to plug holes by hoping minor leaguers would suddenly become major leaguers and their pitching staff would somehow eventually overtake the Nationals to an aggressive, win-now component in the league.
Their front office team made up of Sandy Alderson, John Ricco, Paul DePodesta, and JP Ricciardi wielded their magic wands like the baseball wizards they were billed to be when they joined the organization nearly five years ago to transform this roster and not only address their problems, but crate unimaginable depth at nearly every position in the process to make the Mets one of the most dynamic forces in all of baseball.
Sure, the Mets had a rough homestand recently, but despite going 3-6 during that stretch, they’re still 37-20 since July 24, the day they decided to acquire players and go for Washington’s jugular in the National League East.
And while the front office deserves credit for bringing in those players, it’s Terry Collins who deserves equally as much credit – if not more – for not only getting the Mets to that point where they could even consider these win-now moves, but manipulating the roster he was given to be a force capable of beating anyone on any given day.
I’ve covered and written about a lot of lean times in Flushing. I’ve tried to mold a mound of rocks into a diamond ring, looking for anything which might suggest there was light at the end of the tunnel and progress was being made. I’ve seen and written about the Jordany Valdespin’s of the world and raw skills might ultimately translate into stardom. I looked for any glimmer of shine I could find in Josh Thole and his .752 OPS in his cup of coffee in 2009.
Who knew it would be the likes of Thole, R.A. Dickey, Mike Nickeas, Carlos Beltran, the failures from 2008-2013 and that horrible season in 2009 which would eventually form the pitching staff the Mets have today, tomorrow and for the next few years to come.
Yes, I’m talking about their ability to draft Steven Matz, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Michael Conforto, and the trades which brought the club Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler, and the clubs remarkable ability to stay patient and develop every one of them into immediate impacts for this team.
It’s really rather remarkable that the team needed to fail – and fail miserably and quite possibly in the most embarrassing and humiliating ways imaginable in any sport – to get to where they are today.
Now it’s so close, so real and almost impossible to believe considering what this franchise has been through to get to this point since the last time they were in the tournament.
The thing is, so many people are worried about this mini-slump and their recent struggles with runners in scoring position, the temperature of their young pitching staff, and Tyler Clippard giving up a lot of home runs lately, and so on and so forth.
They just get in. It doesn’t matter how or when. Once they’re in, the light goes on again.
And they’re going to be in very shortly.
I’ve been very fortunate over the years to be able to be a part of the club I grew up rooting for. Remember, I am a fan at heart, and I think that in and of itself has kept my drive alive and stay passionate even during season which were indeed terrible. To see this through to a division championship – and hopefully much more than that – would truly be special and a hell of a lot of fun to experience and share with you.
Here’s to hoping that happens…