The New York Mets wrapped up their regular season home schedule with a 17-0 rout of the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday. I made it to two of their 81 home contests, my fewest since Citi Field opened.
I’m ok with that, though I wish I’d gone to at least one game on my own so I could wander around the ballpark without annoying anyone else. I have less patience for the travel – going to a game in Queens means I spend almost as much time on trains as I do watching baseball. And I have to admit, the ballpark was easier to get around when there weren’t 30,000+ people there most nights.
Back in April, I think we all had visions of the Mets repeating as National League East champions and going back to the World Series, this time to win it all. The second part of that dream could still happen, but Daniel Murphy is the only one who got to celebrate two consecutive division titles.
As the summer went on, one player after another disappeared from the Mets’ roster due to injury. Currently Zack Wheeler, David Wright, Matt Harvey, Jonathon Niese, Justin Ruggiano, Neil Walker, and Jacob deGrom are all out for the season. Steven Matz and Wilmer Flores are unlikely to return. Juan Lagares and Lucas Duda are only recently returned and have been limited to a reduced role. Yoenis Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera are both basically playing on one good leg. Travis d’Arnaud, to the surprise of no one, missed significant time again this season.
Bartolo Colon, to the surprise of everyone, leads the Mets in starts, victories and innings pitched. He anchors a rotation that includes Noah Syndergaard, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman and Gabriel Ynoa…. and they’re winning.
The Mets’ offense has been criticized as an “all-or-nothing” proposition… they’re as likely to bludgeon you with home runs as they are to completely fail to get another hit once they have runners in scoring position… but they’re winning.
The Mets may have the least range on defense of any team I’ve watched in recent years. Outside of Jose Reyes, they may all be too content to play station-to-station baseball on the basepaths….but they’re winning.
Despite fielding a regular lineup that includes just three or four starters from Opening Day, despite a manager who’s prone to over-managing due to an obsession with same-handed matchups whether or not the stats bear out the emphasis on platoon splits… despite a key trade deadline acquisition completely flopping… the Mets still share the lead in the National League Wild Card race with a week left in the season.
At the beginning of the year, I would’ve been disappointed about watching the Mets play for the wild card. By midsummer, I was ready to advocate selling off players that didn’t fit into the Mets’ 2017 plans because I couldn’t imagine a real playoff run. And here we are, watching the Mets have a real chance of continuing to play past next Sunday. It’s amazin’.
One more game at Citi Field would feel like a successful season after the adversity that the Mets faced this year. Advancing to the National League Division Series seems possible. Getting by the Chicago Cubs… well, that doesn’t seem too likely. But a couple of months ago, I couldn’t see the Mets playing after game #162.
It’s the season where you gotta believe.