Two things have gotten me ready for the post season to begin. The first was going to the last game of the season at Citi Field and watching Jacob de Grom pitch four scoreless innings, watching Curtis Granderson win the game for us with a solo homer, and watching the team do a lap of the field to thank the fans.
The second is the fact that the Yankees lost last night. I shouldn’t frame excitement for the Mets with a Yankees loss and I am certainly not choking on my own bile but the loss was significant. First, Carlos Beltran struck out in the bottom of the ninth. As my friend Pat said, “The Beltran Curse has been lifted and passed to the Yankees.” Second, had we actually received Carlos Gomes in that July trade, he wouldn’t have hit that home run last night for the Houston Astros. (As the Buddhist says, “we’ll see.”) And, finally, New York City can concentrate on its real playoff team.
There are, however, some things about this regular season that I have really enjoyed and would like to revisit before we embark on the post season.
The 11 Game Winning Streak
I thought that this would be the highlight of the season. It was still early, when, if we allowed ourselves a daydream, we thought we might make the Wild Card. So, during the streak, I think most of us, while excited, watched this with some detached bemusement. Wow, this should really not be happening for us! Well, that was fun. Now let’s lose this lead to the Nationals (which we did). In either retrospect or rose colored glasses, it was a sign that this team is pretty damn good.
The Yin and Yang of Harvey and de Grom
They’re both aces but the amount of hate and love alternately directed at Harvey is blinding at times. Fuck his pitch count! Where’s the loyalty?! He didn’t ride with the team! He’s just waiting to go to the Bronx! Relax people, just let the man throw strikes. Meanwhile, Jacob de Grom, coming off a rookie of the year season, quietly dominated, especially in his brief appearance in the all star game.
Wilmer Flores and His Walk Off
I didn’t see him cry (not live, anyway) but I did see news of the trade during the game and thought, man, not Wilmer. Yeah, he could be disappointing but I didn’t want to lose him for Carlos Gomes. We had already had Gomes. Was he worth it? Then, a few days later, Wilmer hit a walk off home run and everyone went crazy. Watching a player turn into a fan favorite is awesome.
Steven Matz’s Grandfather
There’s nothing fans like more than a homegrown player. We loved it when Nelson Figueroa’s family came out for his first start. And I truly believe that beneath every Harvey attack is the resentment over him growing up dreaming of being a Yankee. Steven Matz, on the other hand, grew up wanting to be a Met. His entire family are Mets fans and the sight of his grandfather cheering him on during his first start where he also went 3 for 3 was the MLB version of a Hallmark card. This was also B.C. (before Cespedes) when Mets pitchers were hitting better than the everyday players, so, Matz was a welcome addition.
How the hell is Daniel Murphy still on the team? He’s supposed to get traded at the end of every year. But he’s been coming up with clutch extra base hits for every time he messes up on the base path or throws to third when he could just step on first. But that’s why he’s the ultimate Met. You curse at him and wonder what the hell he’s thinking but when he comes through, he comes through big. And he’s just… he’s Murph, man. Don’t overthink it.
Yeonis Cespedes in Colorado
On August 22, 2015, Yeonis Cespedes hit three home runs (one of which was a grand slam) batting in seven RBIs and just missed hitting for the cycle.
When we acquired Yeonis Cespedes in July, I posted the following on my facebook page: “Yoenis Cespedes. It’s like everything we Mets fans have been saying all year. We need a real… <sigh>… Yoenis Cespedes type player in the clubhouse.” I was dismissive. Let the record show that I was dead wrong, hilariously wrong, never-live-it-down wrong. I’ve never been so happy to have been so wrong. I had no idea what was coming.He ignited the offense and we never would have pulled away from the Nats like we did without him. I still don’t know if we should sign him on a seven year contract but, clearly, my opinion is sophomoric at best.
It’s amazing that I take it for granted that we have an amazing closer. Yeah, he’s faltered a couple of times but I’m glad he got that out of his system before the playoffs. During our win streak, when Familia was still considered a stopgap for Bobby Parnell, a friend of mine said, “and we’re doing this without our captain or our closer!” I said, “I think we’ve got our closer.” It turns out I can be right sometimes.
David Wright’s Bookend Homers
For most of this season, I honestly forgot he was on the team. I wasn’t sure he would be back. Spinal stenosis is supposed to be career ending and he was gone for months. I was waiting for him to be in the front office or a commentator somewhere. But his first at-bat back, he hit a home run. And in the game where we clinched the division, he hit a three run homer. He’s the captain.
Sweeping the Nationals, September 7-9
This one is interesting because I felt so bad for the Nationals. That might be the ultimate curse of being a Mets fan. It can be hard to enjoy victory when you know the pain you’re inflicting on the opposition. When the Nationals’ bullpen blew a six run lead, I was happy but I had to pretend not to see the hung head of each reliever who walked slowly back to the dugout. But that sweep was crucial. That’s when I knew that this Mets team was for real and it wasn’t 2007 (through 2014) anymore.
The first game of the NLDS is two days away but I feel as if the slate has been wiped clean. October baseball is a different beast and I can’t wait for Friday. Let’s go Mets.