Believe it or not, the pennant has risen for the Mets…
It’s Thursday morning. The sun is shining, the air is crisp, the leaves are colorful.
It’s a typically quiet, unassuming, fairly routine start to a mid-October day.
But you’re tired. Your head hurts from fatigue and joy all rolled into one.
And you see the first person of the day wearing a Mets jacket, not your typical mid-October dress code.
Then it hits you, again.
The New York Mets – yes, the New York Mets – are the 2015 National League Champions.
It almost sounds funny. Perhaps as funny as it sounded 45 years ago when the Mets came out of no where, proved the naysayers wrong, and rolled right through October for their first World Championship.
45 years later, the Mets have proved all of those people who might have thought it was a joke that the Mets could be here today.
“People wanted to doubt us,” Mets captain David Wright told the New York Post. “They called us an underdog. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s true. To kind of come out of nowhere, with all the injuries and all the issues, we don’t have enough time to go through all of it.”
Indeed there isn’t. It started with the pit of injuries the Mets fell in during March and April, Wright included.
Terry Collins is even amazed at this accomplishment.
Said Collins, “I’m sitting there or I’m standing there in the dugout in the ninth inning and I’m looking around the field and looking down in the dugout, and I’m just looking at all the guys, thinking how did they do it? How did they keep it together? How did they stay focused?”
The amazing part about the Mets is, despite being largely defined by failure as opposed to success, their five World Series appearance is tied for the second-most of any National League team since 1969, trailing only the St. Louis Cardinals.
But for Wright in particular, this moment in time represents a purge. For he has been to hell and back with this franchise both personally and professionally, suffering through the challenge of two of the most epic failures the sport has ever seen, the embarrassment of 2009 and 2010, the rebuilding years of 2011-2014, and his own personal trial in 2015 as a 32-year-old man after being diagnosed with spinal stenosis, often serving as a casket for professional athletes.
But as Wright did throughout all of these years, the 2015 Mets persevered through the trials and tribulations of what really has become one of baseball’s all-time great stories.
Just as they were in 1969.
“Everything we’ve been through makes this even more rewarding,” Wright said.
But they’re not done yet. On ething remains, and that is to climb the highest peak on this epic mountain the Mets find themselves on.
And Wright knows there is work to be done.
“I hope this will go up there with the ’69 Mets and the ’86 Mets,” Wright said. “We’re already with the 2000 Mets, so it’s pretty special.
They need four more wins to reach the top and to be fitted for baseball’s crowning achievement.
But it’s still so hard to believe this is today’s conversation.
It’s October 22. For 15 years, this date has been spent thinking about what might have been, what the Mets need to do to make sure they are where they are today. We are all guilty of falling into that routine, one that left a void and an assumption that this day would never come again.
After all, they were, “snakebitten,” as their owner himself once put it.
It’s probably why this is so unbelievable. Mediocrity had been accepted. That was simply the New York Mets in a nutshell for 15 years short of one spurt in 2006.
But this team is far from mediocre. On the field itself, it starts with Terry Collins, Bob Geren, Dan Warthen, and the pitching staff for creating a culture, program and environment suitable for winning.
There are the visionaries in Sandy Alderson, John Ricco, Paul DePodesta, JP Ricciardi, Tommy Tanous, Ian Levin, and the entire fromt office and player development staff for re-architecting this organization five years ago, planting the seeds, and asking all – including themselves and their owners – to be patient, hold their hands and trust that this day would indeed come at some point.
There are of course the players who executing that vision, going through the ups and downs, arm surgeries, pulled hamstrings, quads, and broken backs.
All for this moment.
All of that pain and suffering paid off.
“From now on, when people talk about the 2015 Mets, they’ll be talking about one of the greatest Mets teams in history,” Wright said. “That has a nice ring to it.”
And it’s that ring Wright now seeks as the culmination of all of these insufferable seasons.
“It’s been fun,” a prominent Met told MLB.com early Thursday, “but we’re not done yet, though.”
It could all become even more unbelievable.