Curtis Granderson came to the Mets as a free agent in 2014 on a wing and a prayer. A super solid player in search of a home and a couple of final stabs at a World Series Championship after being abandoned by the Yankees coming off several tough injuries (fractured forearm and broken knuckle on left pinky finger) in 2013, his final season of a four-year deal he signed in 2010.
They weren’t career ending injuries so Granderson had plenty of options when he hit the free agent market. In his three healthy seasons with the Yankees he hit over 40 homers twice and was an All-Star each season until playing in just 61 games in 2013. Most folks assumed he’d re-sign with the Yankees or go to another contender just a power bat and clubhouse presence short of being c’hip material.
The Mets certainly didn’t fit that bill, but Granderson who homered in his first at bat as a Yankee, couldn’t leave the culture of NYC behind and saw a huge opportunity in signing with the downtrodden, cash-strapped Mets, who were diamond-mining some young gems (pitchers and position players) in the minor leagues. The rumblings among astute baseball scientists was that the Mets farm system was on the cusp of transforming the fortunes of the franchise.
It sounded like more shattered dreams and pillow promises for most Mets fans, but Granderson believed enough to pack it up and bring it back to the crib -- just a different borough.
When I spoke to Curtis in the Mets locker room during a series with the Cubs in mid-May, the Mets were battling for respectability and contending early in the season. It looked like the natural progression for a team that many still viewed as too offensively-inept to contend down the stretch.
“Looks like you’re going to be able to tell everybody, ‘I told ya so,’ I said to Granderson.
A lot of people felt that he needed to have his brain examined to sign with the Mets at this point in his career. He was almost 33 years old and a 10-year vet with 130 postseason at-bats under his belt. The Mets were still projected as being three to five years away from really contending.
And for a minute there, it looked as if the Mets pitching couldn't carry a band of feeble sticks to their first playoff appearance since 2006. Then Sandy called in the dogs; Yoenis Cespedes and his thunder bat arrived. Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe added veteran stability to the lineup, David Wright ultimately returned and the pitching blended like an old school, Southsuicide Jamaica Queens Grand Master Vic mixtape. Not only did they make the playoffs, they advanced to the World Series with a 8-3 win over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley field on Wednesday to complete the NLCS sweep.
The Grandy Man has to be ready to say, "I told you so" by now. His manager and GM basically already said it.
Granderson replied: “I still have along way to go before I can say anything like that, but the one thing that Sandy and the front office mentioned to me that I found very attractive was that a lot of guys are coming...talented guys. And felt that with my help and a few other veteran guys, we could do some good things and I really wanted to be a part of that rise.
He knew better than to flex his confidence back in May. After all, he remembers being a member of that 2006 World Series Tigers team that was favored and lost to Tony LaRussa and Albert Pujols' St. Louis Cardinals in five games.
But you could still see the excitement in his eyes. He glanced over at deGrom, whose locker was to his far left and turned around to acknowledge Matt Harvey who was walking through about to get some work before the game. These guys would be dominating on baseball's biggest stage in six months.
Even back then, he knew it was a possibility.
"Sandy and The Wilpons backed that up because sure enough, deGrom and Syndergaard came up and we have some more guys in the minors," Granderson told me. So the arms are coming like Sandy said. I got a chance to see Familia...and was very impressed. That was something that I liked and thought about how special it would be for all of us to be sitting around having conversations about what we would do if we got to the playoffs and then actually watch it come true and really be in a World Series race.”
Seems like that brother could see into the future.
Granderson added that when he was with the Yankees he “was one of the younger guys and as soon as he joined the Mets three months later he became one of the older guys in the clubhouse.”
Being a clubhouse leader, was a transition he embraced and has executed masterfully. During these playoffs, Granderson has helped carry the Mets offensively and defensively. He’s batting .303, with 7 RBIs and second to Daniel Murphy AKA “The Ghost of Hank Aaron,” with 10 hits.
Despite Granderson’s humility, in reality the Mets are four games away from the aging superstar being able to say, “I told you so.”