The Mets withstood what is no doubt the final blow to their hopes for a berth in the playoffs last night. However, no epitaph is required. More is gained than lost…
The Mets have nothing to be ashamed about as they wake up this morning in Denver. They fought the good fight and for all practical purposes, it’s over. But I dare anyone to say it has not been a fun and entertaining season. And if you think that’s a rationalization, think again. This Mets team is a winner.
Mets: From The Depths Of Oblivion
Recall the days and nights in June and the early part of July when the Mets were close to once again becoming the laughing stock of baseball. The team that many had predicted to be in the fight for the NL East title was barely keeping their head above water. And by the end of July, the team had sunk to ten games below .500.
Finger-pointing was the norm on and off the field. Brodie Van Wagenen was looking for cover. Mickey Callaway had no chance of finishing the season. Steven Matz was incapable of pitching two good games in a row, and Zack Wheeler was still inexplicably with the team. Fans hopelessly tried to believe, but their hearts weren’t in it.
A ray of hope sprung up, though, in Cleveland, Ohio when Pete Alonso won the hearts and souls of fans across America. Returning to the Mets clubhouse a million dollars richer, Alonso seemingly brought with him an aura of success and invincibility. Teammates and media became magnetized to his character and personality.
Though at first dismissed as another Mets blooper, Brodie Van Wagenen woke up from his slumber dismissing Dave Eiland as pitching coach and bringing in – of all things – an 82-year-old grandfather in Phil Regan. No one is scoffing anymore.
Mickey Callaway woke up from his woe is me persona as well. Teaming with Regan, they began to reassemble the Mets shattered bullpen, discovering a reliance on Seth Lugo and Justin Wilson that carries on to this day.
The Mets responded, reeling off a 22-4 or something run that ensured a September of meaningful games. Jeff McNeil continued his first pitch hitting assault on pitchers, and Wilson Ramos explained Van Wagenen’s signing with his bat. Pete Alonso pummeled his way through Met’s records and Jacob deGrom, to the surprise of no one pitched like the Cy Young winner he is.
Still, it wasn’t enough.
I said an epitaph is not required. You can go there if you want to, drumming up the refrain for canning Callaway as the scapegoat – but it’ll get you nowhere – and rightfully so. Callaway is learning on the job, and his decisions regarding the use of his pitching staff are head-scratching at times. But the men in the clubhouse believe in him, and that’s all that matters.
Built For The Future
The core of the Mets team is something to behold. Alonso, McNeil, Michael Conforto, J.D. Davis, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Amed Rosario are with us to stay. Their best years have yet to arrive. Few believe it would ever be said of the Mets, but they are a team built for the future.
The Mets will not look the same, however, next season. Two or three snapshots taken by SNY cameras the other night told me all I need to know about Noah Syndergaard. Sitting alone in the back of the dugout while the rest of his teammates are standing on the top step should be the end of the I-Me-Mine Generation in Queens.
Zack Wheeler means money. For what it will take to ink Wheeler on the open market or to extend him the $19 million qualifying offer, that money can better be spent on Stephen Strasburg when he opts out, Gerrit Cole, Dellin Betances, or a host of other pitchers.
Veterans like Todd Frazier have likely seen their last glimpse of Citi Field. Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia need a change of scenery, though Van Wagenen has his hands full in finding a suitor for either reliever.
Seth Lugo is saying he doesn’t want to be a closer forever, raising the possibility of making him the fifth starter in the rotation – if Van Wagenen can close the holes in the bullpen during the offseason.
Yes, much has been lost. But the Mets have gained so much more. A tip of the cap from this ‘ole writer comes easily…
And just in case we all need a reminder of what this is really all about…(video)