The time has finally come for the Mets – a playoff run is about to begin
The time has come.
All of the excitement and anticipation leading up to Friday night’s game in Los Angeles is going to culminate with one of the great pitching showcases in all of baseball when Clayton Kershaw and Jacob deGrom face off against each other in Chavez Ravine just before 10:00 pm ET in New York.
Get your coffee ready, get your B12 ready. Take your cat naps if you can, and get ready for a really fun, exciting and often nerve wracking evening of Mets baseball.
Welcome to the playoffs.
It’s been nine long years, inclusive of a lot of pain, suffering, embarrassing and humiliating moments on and off the field, financial fiascos, tearing off of shirts, sandwiches flying, bone bruises, pulled hamstrings, and 666 losses combined in six consecutive losing seasons between the last time the Mets saw a pitch in the playoffs until they embarked on the 2015 season.
New York is hungry, New York has been more than patient, and New York deserves this special time for New York Mets baseball.
Because the Mets haven’t enjoyed that much success in the last 15 years, the younger portion of the Mets fan base – and the section of the fan base which the Mets and Major League Baseball need to garner interest from – that don’t remember or were not alive the last time the Mets strung together years of success.
Short of 2006, the last time the Mets had a successful string of seasons was from 1998-2000, with 1999-2000 serving as the only season’s in club history in which they went to the playoffs in back-t0-back seasons.
They don’t remember Al Leiter’s one-hitter to beat the Reds in game 163 to get the Mets into the Division Series against Randy Johnson and the Arizona Diamondbacks. They don’t remember Todd Pratt’s remarkable series winning homer against Matt Mantei in game four of the 1999 NLDS, or Robin Ventura’s grand slam single, or John Franco fanning Barry Bonds to end game two of the 2000 NLDS, or Benny Agbayani’s walk-off homer against the Giants in game three of that same NLDS.
They don’t remember the Mets winning the first two games against the Cardinals in the 2000 NLCS, or what that Subway Series actually felt like with the excitement leading up to that matchup to the heartbreak of Luis Sojo’s 50 hopper up the middle which got past Leiter, and Kurt Abbott which nailed down the Yankees 26th title in game five of that World Series.
All they remember is the impossible bender from Adam Wainwright which froze Carlos Beltran on that October evening at Shea Stadium nine years ago, which effectively is the the scar representative of what seemed like a cut which bled endlessly for years without end.
This is the time of year those signature moments are defined for the history of a franchise, for better or for worse.
So many people are skeptical and cynical about this postseason series between the Dodgers and Mets. For this writer, that’s really difficult to grasp. Then again, it’s now understood so many Mets fans don’t know anything other than losing and heartbreak, to the point they’re conditioned for what they feel is an inevitable loss in embarrassing fashion.
But there’s no reason for that. Seriously.
Take the Blue Jays as an example. On Thursday, they had their new prized ace on the mound in David Price in front of a sold out and raucous crowd at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. On paper, Toronto is indeed the superior team to the up-start Rangers. The oddsmakers called the Blue Jays 3-to-1 favorites to win the World Series.
But because of the sheer unpredictability of playoff baseball, the Blue Jays suddenly find themselves in a serious uphill battle to simply win this series against the Rangers, let alone win a World Championship.
And in the case of the Mets and Dodgers, they are so closely matched in every facet of the game, there’s no way to even predict how this might go, even with the likes of Kershaw and Zack Greinke staring the Mets down.
And for the Dodgers, they have deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Matt Harvey staring them in the face with a superior bullpen on top of that before they can even consider throwing Kershaw on short rest in game four.
The Mets are in pretty good shape as things stand 12 hours before the first pitch is thrown.
And whatever happens this week and this month, hopefully this is just the beginning of what will be a long and successful string of seasons inclusive of deep runs into October.
The New York Mets are a playoff team, which makes them a championship-caliber team. They’re playing in baseball’s ultimate crapshoot, which is a short series intended to define the longest season in American professional sports.