October 19th, 2006. Approximately 11:30 pm. A little freckle faced 11 year old full on weeps into his Dad’s shirt, walking out of Shea Stadium after a combo of Aaron Heilman, Yadier Molina, and a frozen Carlos Beltran ripped his heart out, leaving the cold, empty, baseball sized space.
Fast Forward 9 years.
September 26th, 2015. Approximately 8:00 pm. A still pretty little freckled faced 20 year old, drunkenly wiping tears out of his eyes watching the 2015 Mets spray each other with champagne in the away clubhouse of Great American Ballpark, and a baseball sized whole in his chest being filled by the first baseball joy he’s experienced since 6th grade.
Two historic September collapses, Luis Castillo dropping the pop up against the Yankees, the Jason Bay debacle, a farewell Jose Reyes, David Wright mentally folding because of the Citi Field fences, Ike Davis getting Valley Fever, Dillon Gee getting the nod on an opening day, Josh Thole actually being a starting catcher for 3 years. I’ve seen it all, I’ve endured it all, I’ve suffered it all.
Suffer no more, Rory.
I can go on and on about how fantastic the young starting arms were this year, how fucking insane Familia’s 95 mph splitter is, Wilmer Flores’ near Milwaukee Brewer turned New York Sports Folk Hero episode, how Sandy Alderson finally showed some goddamn stones and made some significant moves, how electrifying and awesome Cespedes was, the triumphant return of David Wright, the complete and utter domination of the Bryce Harpers *sorry* Nationals, and so on. But as far as I’m concerned, this narrative for the Mets has just begun.
And no, I am not an idiot. I am aware of how flawed this team is. The man steering the ship is a bumbling idiot, the offense of comprised of a bunch of streaky hitters, the fielding is for the most part terrible, and the middle relief if an absolute nightmare. Quiet honestly, if they make it past the Dodgers, I will be very surprised.
The thing is, the Mets are playing with house money at this point. They aren’t meant to be here. According to most, they were MAYBE going to be here at the end of next season. But they are here right now. Making the playoffs was a miracle onto itself, anything after this is just gravy.
I’m not saying I don’t care about this year’s playoffs. I will inevitably cry if they get bounced. But this train has just left the station. Harvey will only be better the further he is removed from his TJ, deGrom is as good as any pitcher in baseball, Syndergaard is only 22 and looked like an ace for most of the year, in his limited action Matz looked like everything he was said to be, and the forgotten (and nearly traded) Zach Wheeler is recovering from his TJ and will be back halfway through next year.
Travis d’Arnaud has been fantastic when he’s not out with freak injuries, Wilmer Flores is still only 23 and finally showed some of his potential, Lucas Duda showed he does Lucas Duda things, Conforto looks like a cornerstone franchise piece, Curtis Granderson was quietly one the best players on the Mets and still has a year on his contract, and David Wright may have found a little life left in him. Not to mention the prospect of having the Cuban Missile Crisis manning center long term if he wants to stay in New York.
Yes, there are some flags here and there. Wheeler may not come back with the success that Harvey did. Scott Boras might try to pull some of his magic and brainwash Harvey. Murph is on his way out after this year. There are still some very bad contracts. Who knows what will happen in the Cespedes sweepstakes.
But the point still remains: the future is as bright for the Mets as it is any other team in the league. They won the NL East year earlier than anyone expected them to even be contenders. Regardless of what happens in these playoffs, the 2015 season was a remarkable success, and a very realistically repeatable success.
Who knows how long this success will last. History and common baseball knowledge says about 5-6 years. Could be longer, could be shorter. For me, I’m just looking forward to watching these next few years without braces in my mouth and worrying about algebra homework, but instead profanity in my mouth and worrying about if I can afford the round of shots for the bar after the Mets win a World Series.