By: Paul DiSclafani
I went through all five phases of grief already and finally arrived at “Acceptance”, so I’m OK with it. It really was a wonderful season, a surprising season.
I think we finally got to “next year” with our pitching staff. Watching the development of Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom was just beautiful. We saw them develop from raw talent to learn to rely on their secondary pitches.
And the return of Matt Harvey was a sight to behold. I know there were times this year that we just shook our heads at the decisions he made, but he is a marvelous pitcher and a true star in this game. And for the next few years, he is still our star.
There were many bright spots to the season, but here are the few that made this one memorable for me (and hopefully you) in no particular order:
Getting Yoenis Cespedes with 10 minutes to go at the trading deadline.
I know he may turn out to be a rental player, but what a rental! He transformed our moribund lineup instantly. We knew about his power, but found out he was a good defensive player also (the World Series notwithstanding). What a gun he has! He hit 17 home runs for us in less than half a season. Boy, I hope they make him a decent offer. I still believe his injury was more than it was made out to be. You just don’t go from being the player he was in August and September to what we saw in the postseason just like that. No matter what happens, Thanks Yo.
The sweep of the Nationals at Citi Field
Has there been a more important 3-game series at Citi Field that the late July one against the Nationals? Trailing them by three games, we beat them on Friday on a home run by Wilmer Flores in the bottom of the 12th inning in his first game back after the trade-no trade debacle. Then on Saturday, Cespedes makes his Mets debut and his presence in the lineup known immediately. The Nationals intentionally walked the already 0-3 Cespedes in the 8th inning to pitch to Lucas Duda, who drove a double off the wall for the winning run. Then on Sunday night, the Mets hit three home runs on five pitches against Jordan Zimmerman to complete the sweep and never looked back. Syndergaard went eight innings for the win and said this after the game. “It’s so much fun to be a Met right now,” Syndergaard said. “Just an unbelievable night, and I’m looking forward to the days to come.” How right he would be.
The 7-1 Comeback Against The Nationals
Washington had knocked Matt Harvey out of the box and made Cespedes pay for an error that allowed three runs to score. The Mets had come back the night before to increase their NL East lead to five games, but Washington was on the verge of cutting into the lead with this game in the bag. But in the seventh inning, the Mets inexplicably score six run to tie the game as the Nationals issued six walks and a wild pitch. You could feel the air coming out of the building and see the looks on the players faces as the Mets had done the impossible. Then Kirk Nieuwenhius hit a pinch hit home run in the eighth inning to break the tie and the backs of the Nationals and they were never heard from again. Oh yeah, the Mets completed the sweep the next day.
The 13-3 start
Remember when Terry Collins said it was necessary for the Mets to get off to a good start? They went into Washington and won on Opening Day, taking two out of three to start the season, but then went to Atlanta and lost the first two before going on an 11-game win streak. Everyone knew that they couldn’t keep up that pace, but wins in April count the same as wins in September and we needed all of them.
Jacob deGrom At The All-Star Game
The reigning Rookie of The Year finally got into the All-Star game in the sixth inning in Cincinnati. As the Mets lone representative, he wanted to just “let it fly”. And boy, did he ever! He threw just 10 pitches, becoming the first player in All-Star history to strike out the side on 10 or less pitches. Granted the three American Leaguer’s he struck out might not be ticketed to the Hall of Fame, but Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis (.303, 52 RBI), Oakland’s Stephen Vogt (18 HR, 71 RBI) and Detroit’s Jose Iglesias (.300, 125 hits) were quite impressed. “It was good morning, good afternoon, ball outside, goodnight,” Kipnis said of his at-bat, the only one to last more than three pitches. “He’s a power pitcher, a strong pitcher and a [darn] good one, and I got to see it tonight.”
Clinching The Division
I honestly had tears in my eyes as the Mets celebrated on the field that night in Cleveland. All the suffering of the last nine years, all the pain of collapsing in the final couple of days in the season, all were forgiven. Everything got washed away with that clincher. We were going to the playoffs!
The First Home Playoff Game
When Citi Field first opened, most fans spent time walking around the place or on the line at the Shake Shack. We didn’t have a lot of baseball to cheer about, either. But as the season drew to a close, more and more fans seemed to actually be into the game itself. Citi Field set records for single game attendance for the Washington Series and now this. The fans were ready to go and so was the team. The Mets had split the two games of the NLDS in Los Angeles and with Matt Harvey on the mound were loaded for bear. We had just lost Reuben Tejada to a nasty, dirty play by Chase Utley and during the introductions, Tejada came out to the top of the dugout steps to wave to the crowd! 44,276 were witness to the first playoff game in the new stadium and the Mets set a team record, scoring 13 runs. I don’t think I will ever forget how loud the crowd was in the first inning.
Game 3 of The World Series
Just to see the Mets in the World Series was something. But after giving the Royals Game 1 on a silver platter and looking overmatched in Game 2, we needed something. Noah Syndergaard drew a line in the sand by throwing the first pitch, a 98 mph heater, over the head of Alcides Escobar, then striking him out. Then David Wright launched a home run in his first World Series at bat at home. I don’t think I have ever felt Citi Field shake like that before.
Daniel Murphy’s Postseason Home Run Streak
Could that streak come from any more unlikely a player? Not that Murphy isn’t capable of doing it, just that, well, he’s not capable of doing that. Granted he had a career high 14 home runs in the regular season, but home runs in six straight postseason games? Not Babe Ruth, or Mickey Mantle? No one ever did that? When he hit the last one in Chicago, I just shook my head. He will forever be remembered in Chicago as Daniel “F-ing” Murphy.
The Big League debut of Steven Matz
It was a beautiful Sunday morning in late June and life-long Mets fan Steven Matz was about to make his Major League debut. The kid from Stony Brook Long Island got onto the mound at Citi Field in front of his family and friends and threw his first 96 mph heater over everyone’s head and into the bricks behind home plate. Although he was the winning pitcher in his debut with 7.2 innings of two-run ball, he drove in four runs with three hits, including a two-run double. The rest of the league had to be shaking their head at what the Mets were now putting together, adding Matz to the other three studs Harvey, deGrom and Syndergaard.
I guess when we look back, this really was a wonderful baseball season for the Mets. So we didn’t get the brass ring this time, I’m just as disappointed as you are. But for the first time in a long time, the phrase “Wait Till Next Year” really means something. I know I can’t wait for Next Year, can you?
Thanks for reading my stuff all year! Still lots of stuff to talk about this offseason, so stay with me!
Still need to get over your grief? Let me help you get through it with this article: Ya Gotta Bereave!