The 2015 New York Mets could become one of baseball’s greatest stories ever
It’s still hard to even believe the Mets are in the World Series, isn’t it?
To think about how far this team has come over the years, battling through the depths of some of the darkest times in franchise history to the point there were public doubts about the stability of their own ownership group, can only be billed as a remarkable turnaround in a long journey filled with both uncertainty and failure.
But here they are, battling for a championship.
For other teams, it seems to have less meaning. But a championship run for the Mets always seems to be filled with stories and drama.
In 1969, the Mets were left for dead in the middle of August before it all clicked and a black cat led them past the Cubs, Braves and seriously-favored Orioles for a shocking World Series victory.
In 1973, the Mets won the division by the skin of their teeth, barely finishing over .500 as they won perhaps the most mediocre division in baseball history. But then they defeated the Reds in the NLCS and took the defending champion A’s to seven games in the World Series falling just a little short amid some controversy in Game 6 when Yogi Berra opted to pitch George Stone rather than Tom Seaver on short rest.
Of course, there was 1986, the year of the Mets who dominated for 108 wins, played one of the most epic League Championship Series in baseball history culminating with a 16-inning win over the Astros in Game 6 with Mike Scott – who had owned them in two games in that series with a deadly split-fingered fastball – staring them right in the face for Game 7. And of course who could forget their rally from a 2-0 hole in the World Series, highlighted by a misplay from Bill Buckner in Game 6 and an image that would last a lifetime with Jesse Orosco on his knees, reaching for the heavens with pure joy?
There were the 1999 and 2000 teams as well, highlighted by dramatic home runs from Todd Pratt, Robin Ventura, and Benny Agbayani. There were one-hitters thrown by Al Leiter and Bobby Jones, both in clinching games at that. Both of those seasons ended with the Mets falling short, one time in the NLCS and another in the World Series as broken bats flew, and bases loaded walks, blown saves and poor baserunning ensued.
And of course, there was 2006. A team which just rolled for 162 games, rolled again through an inferior Dodgers team, only to be stopped by Jeff Suppan, So Taguchi, and the deadliest curveball ever thrown to the Mets by Adam Wainwright, causing a nightmare which still won’t go away for some Mets fans.
But unlike all of those years, the Mets are probably battling for more than just baseball supremacy as the beloved underdog and a trip up the Canyon of Heroes sometime next week.
They are battling to truly put the demons of years past to rest.
Winning and losing create perceptions, especially in this market and in this city. The losing seasons the Mets have endured have been shrouded by one controversy after the next, whether the problems are financially or injury driven, or driven by public messages and false hope.
As such, the perception of the Mets, simply among industry experts and insiders over these years has not been particuarly kind. Some of that was certainly deserved, and some of it was not.
But as Terry Collins has profoundly said over the years, perception is reality.
But now, that was a reality. Things are different now, for the Mets have risen from the ashes of futility and shame, and erased all of the terribleness which had been created by poor investments in the big league roster and an organization as a whole.
And a win this week, on baseball’s biggest stage when the entire world will be watching with some wondering, “who is Noah Syndergaard? Who is that amazing pitcher with that long hair? Is that David Wright? I’ve never heard of Steven Matz?” the Mets have a chance to prove all of those doubters from yesteryear wrong, and introduce the entire world to what they’ve been building since they hit the reset button in October, 2010.
There is an ominous stats which play against the Mets chances in this World Series.
In each of the last six seasons, the team who has won their pennant first has gone on to lose the World Series. The 2008 Philadelphia Phillies were the last team to win their pennant first and go on to win the World Series, according to ESPN Stats and Information and the Elias Sports Bureau.
The Mets also must deal with a very long layoff. They will be off almost six full days before beginning the World Series. Players often find that it’s critical to play everyday to maintain their rhythm and routine.
The Royals, meanwhile, will be off for almost four full days before starting the World Series.
None of this is the Mets or Royals fault of course. They don’t make the schedules. And these are just stats anyway. The Mets have defied the statistics and odds which have been stacked against them throughout the postseason and the regular year for that matter to get to the World Series.
They’re just as good and prepared as the Royals in their own way, and there’s no reason to expect the Mets to lose, for sure.
Yes, they’re here and that alone can be viewed as a monumental victory, but earning a championship and doing so a year removed from complete irrelevancy and doubts about their solvency and viability in the industry would truly be a testament to both patience and the genius at work. And, to do it against literally all of the odds – they were underdogs in the National League East, Division Series and the League Championship Series – would play right into that beloved role they’ve adopted since they were incepted in 1962.
But no matter what happens, this has been a fun year, a fun postseason, and a fun story known as the 2015 New York Mets. There is still one more chapter to write, and would that be an epic climax to this story or what?
They may not be the best team ever put on a baseball field, but if they win, there’s no question the 2015 New York Mets would be one of the greatest baseball stories ever told.