The expression, “in a New York minute,” truly applies to the 2015 Mets because that’s how fast their season went from bust to boom.
Let’s rewind to the end of June when the Mets had lost seven games in a row, looked ratched offensively, were suffering from a gang of injuries and that 11-game winning streak in April seemed like a cruel tease. A premature ejaculation of success, if you will.
It was a quick glimpse of what the Mets could be if they opened up the wallets a bit and pursued somebody – anybody who was a professional hitter with a bit of pop.
At the time, it was "getting kind of hectic" as my man Chill Rob G would say, and maligned GM Sandy Alderson dismissed the negative banter as "Panic City.” It was his way of placing blame on the impatience of Mets fans and media who had already, by the way, suffered with a team that hadn’t won more than 79 games since 2009.
“The nerve of that guy. This ain’t San Diego,” was the prevailing thought emitting from water cooler conversations, school lunch tables and barbershops across the city.
It was the perfect time to panic. Most fans wanted ownership out, but that's a no-go, so they try to annihilate the next best thing.
The full-court NY press to rid Citi Field of these toe-tappers was in full effect. Fans just couldn’t endure another lost season, and this time Mets brass would not only be wasting fan money but squandering the dazzling performances of the reincarnation of the ’86 Mets pitching staff – only better and overall younger.
The Mets hadn’t won a division title or reached the playoffs since 2006. Alderson had been less than impressive in his tenure as Mets GM. Alderson was hired after the 2010 baseball season to replace Omar Minaya as general manager. Minaya was a guy who was more a victim of circumstance than ineptitude. Minaya was basically punished because Carlos Beltran got iced on an Adam Wainwright mega-curve in 2006.
Then, in 2007, the Mets blew a 7 game lead with 17 games to play. Minaya actually stocked the Mets farm system with studs, orchestrated winning clubs and had the Mets consistently competing among the MLB’s big-boppers, but that played out with the panic that Alderson speaks of. The Wilpons cleared house, eventually booting manager Willie Randolph and Minaya too.
The Mets were entering an era of financial chaos and uncertainty as well because of their relationship with ponzi-scheme creep Bernie Madoff and the Wilpons sealed up the books and braced for some hard times.
Alderson had to navigate those rough years and Mets fans had difficulty swallowing the reality of their pitiful existence. Throughout most of his tenure, manager Terry Collins has been pitied as the leader of a team whose owners send him into battle against an army with a handgun. Now the 66-year-old grinder can hold his head high and finally get a little credit for being a decent skipper.
NY’s inability to compete and acquire big-time, Big Apple talent had nothing to do with baseball operations; and that was even more frustrating and disheartening to the fans. Alderson was putting low-cost pieces together here and there, waiting for his young arms to blossom and telling everybody to fall back and watch this sh$t.
Just like that.
Everything changed at the trade deadline.
That’s when The Mets chose to be contenders rather than pretenders. That’s when old man Alderson woke up from his nap and stepped into the A.M. He kicked his cane to the side, tossed the oxygen mask in the garbage and got to work, bringing in three pro bats in Yoenis Cespedes, Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe and a couple of arms in Tyler Clippard and Addison Reed.
In all–or-nothing fashion, the Mets are sticking with their young power arms as they enter the NLDS, most likely against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Veteran hurlers like Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese won’t be in the starting rotation for this playoff rodeo.
Offensively, they are hoping Cespedes can continue to be that majestic infusion of power, defense, and inspiration and lift them to a c’hip, because it’s a superb chance he won’t be rocking Mets blue and orange after October.
Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Long Island’s own Steven Matz are the young, golden arms providing Mets fans with hope against a powerhouse LA squad with not only wicked arms to match in Zack Greinke (18-3) and Cy Young ace Clayton Kershaw, but an array of hitters who keep coming at you like demented wasps.
The Mets are beginning their playoff quest against the only staff of arms that can bang with them in these playoffs.
During the season, the Mets started six different pitchers against LA and won four out of seven games against the Dodgers. The Mets staff allowed more than two runs just twice in those games and they will have to continue to keep the score down if they have any chance of hanging with the Dodgers, who have been focused on the WS and making up for their disappointing playoff performances of the past few years.
Overall, the National League has some killer squads. St.Louis and Pittsburgh are no joke. Chicago has a deadly blend of youth, veterans and Jake Arrieta (21-6, 1.82 ERA).
Despite the enthusiasm expressed by Mets Nation, just getting to the World Series will be a colossal task in itself.
The Mets will need to muster the magic of all of their past five division clinches. In 1969 they clinched on September 24th and went on to a miracle World Series run against the Braves and B-More Orioles.
In 1973, Yogi Berra led them to an NL East-clinching victory on Oct. 1 against the Cubs at Wrigley. The crazy ’86 Mets – the livest baseball team to ever lace up cleats – rode the arm of young phenom Dwight Gooden, the gracefully-retarded bat of Darryl Strawberry and a host of other characters to an NL East clinch and eventually a second World Series victory.
In 1988, the Mets won 100 games and then fell victim to one of the most dynamic playoff performances in history. Dodgers outfielder Kirk Gibson hit home runs in multiple games, including the game-winning dinger in the twelfth inning of Game 4 of the NLCS as the Dodgers upset the heavily-favored Mets.
In ’06…well no need to keep bringing it up.
We can’t overlook how the move to acquire Curtis Granderson actually sparked this Mets revival (We told you back in 2013 that he would get his props). He was Alderson’s first "star” signing and he has done his part as a leader and exemplary pro in the club house and on the field.
The return of David Wright is invaluable to this Mets run. The heart and soul of this Mets squad missed 115 games this season battling back problems.
“We deserve this, the fans deserve this, New York deserves this,” said Wright on SNY after hitting a homer in the division-clinching game on Saturday.
All things seem to be in place for the Mets to make a real go at it. Baseball is as unpredictable as the Craps table in Vegas, so who knows if they can win it all.
Just seeing the team from Queens shining again. Just seeing Citi Field turned up again. Just witnessing the end of the Mets being the laughing stock of baseball makes any Mets fan feel like Donald Trump at a church bingo game. Even if only for a New York minute.