It’s been 9 long years, but the Mets are actually on the verge of a title…
What a long, strange trip it’s been.
That old, clichéd saying that most of us can find in our high school yearbooks rings especially true when it comes to this baseball franchise over the last decade.
It’s been nine years since the Mets last postseason berth, and boy has a lot gone down since then.
While the immortal called strike three to Carlos Beltran was as painful a way to end a playoff run as one can have, the spirit of Mets fans was still high, and an expectation the team would be involved in October baseball for years to come remained.
Little did I know that those days would never come. Until quite possibly today, nearly nine years after Adam Wainwright’s wretched curveball began a nightmare which would last nearly a full decade.
The following season, the Mets blew a seven-game lead with 17 to go and completed the worst collapse in the history in Major League Baseball at that time, missing the postseason by a single game on the final day of the season.
The team arguably completed an equally painful September collapse the following year, as Shea Stadium closed it’s doors following yet another devastating loss on the final day of the season.
It hasn’t been easy being a Mets fan in this era. Yes, I’ve been able to experience and appreciate individual feats such as Jose Reyes’ batting title in 2011, R.A. Dickey winning 20 games and the Cy Young Award in 2012, Johan Santana pitching the first and only no-hitter in franchise history that same year and the stellar performances of the young starters Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom.
But that’s all it was; individual success.
Over the last nine years, I’ve also gone through some pretty miserable moments. After ending the 2006 season on such a bad not and the back-to-back collapses in the following two seasons, this team went through six consecutive losing seasons, each seemingly longer than the last.
There’s been a lot of heartbreak over that time. The Luis Castillo dropped pop-up, the game-ending unassisted triple play, the Jason Bay and Oliver Perez contracts, bullpen meltdowns, Matt Cain drilling David Wright in the head at Citi Field, financial controversy, Ryan Church missing third base, D.J. Carrasco’s walk-off balk, the Tony Bernazard situation, Santana’s post-no-hitter injury, Harvey’s Tommy John surgery, Wheeler’s Tommy John surgery; the list goes on and on and on.
Even as recently as early this season, this team was no-hit in their own ballpark by journeyman pitcher Chris Heston, and one month after that Jeurys Familia allowed a game-winning, three-run home run to Justin Upton following a rain delay with two outs and nobody on in the 9th, and this team experienced a brutal heartache that was all too familiar.
Today, however, that can all finally be put to rest.
Thanks to the stellar pitching from Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, rookies Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, the emergence of Jeurys Familia, the acquisitions of Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson, Tyler Clippard, Yoenis Cespedes and Addison Reed, along with the returns of the oft-injured David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud, this Mets team has catapulted themselves to the edge of history, as they are just one win (or one Nationals loss) away from claiming a National League East division championship.
It’s incredible how far this franchise has come, not only in the last nine years, but even this season as they trailed the heavy preseason favorite Washington Nationals by three games in the division on July 31st–a moment that marked the beginning of their incredible run.
After sweeping away the Nationals in front of an environment I’ve never seen in the history of Citi Field and propelling their way into a first place tie, the Mets ran roughshod over the National League for a six week stretch.
In their first series against Washington since the early August sweep, the Mets virtually nailed down the division as they came from behind in each of the three games in D.C., completing yet another sweep over their in-division rivals. From July 31st to September 12th, this team went from a three-game deficit in the NL East to a 9.5-game lead.
After some still feared the risk of yet another collapse, the Mets have quieted those notions with their play. They stand just one game away from a National League East title and a return to the postseason, a sentence that to this very moment I find hard believe that I’m writing.
Embrace this Mets fans. We of all people know it doesn’t come along very often. Today is–we hope–a day for celebration, and putting all of those past hardships to rest once and for all.
It’s been a long, strange trip for this Mets team over the last nine years.
But this is just the beginning.