The Mets appear to have a cohesiveness that can carry them further than even Jacob deGrom’s right arm. Timing is everything, and 2020 feels so right.
The Mets can rightly look back at the Washington Nationals to ask themselves – what was so special about the team they had last year that won a World Title?
After all those years of falling short of expectations, never advancing beyond the first round of the playoffs, was 2019 so different?
They still had Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer to anchor their staff. And they won it all, even despite the loss of Bryce Harper, who fled to the Phillies.
Axioms and adages do not exist without reason. Worn out, there is still a truth in most of them, and the one that says timing is everything – is everything.
Mets So Close, But Too Late
The Mets could easily have been the Nationals last season, except for one thing. They got started a month too late.
At the trade deadline, last season MLB Power Rankings had the Mets ranked 23rd out of 30 teams, behind everyone in their division except for the lowly Marlins.
By mid-September, the Mets had zoomed to number fourteen while the Nationals, the eventual World Series winner, were ranked only at number ten.
What if, what if, what if doesn’t prove a damn thing.
And though the surge proved to be for naught last year, the Mets emerged from the season a far different team than the one we saw at the All-Star break ten games under .500 with nothing but depressing headlines on the back pages of New York newspapers.
As if positive melodrama was the new theme attached to the Mets by season’s end, the shot heard around New York City was delivered by a Met who hadn’t seen an at-bat in months due to injury. (Video)
That one swing completed a sweep of the division-winning Atlanta Braves and vaulted the Mets to a season-ending ten games over .500 finish.
The Mets “Remember The Alamo” Moment
Not by chance, but rather by design, the euphoria of that moment carried its way through a long winter and a season that seems like it will never begin.
The proverbial “next step” is ever-present in an athlete’s vocabulary. Pete Alonso tries to explain in a conversation with Mike Lupica:
“Now, I just want to take everything to the next level,” Alonso said. “I want to do that for myself, and I want to do it for our team. I want to make pitchers as uncomfortable this season as I did last season.”
It’s the blend of “I” and “team” that makes all the difference. There is no team if there is no “I”, and Alonso knows and is willing to accept the onus of being a big part of the Mets “team”.
He’s not the only one, though, who learned from last season’s depths and ascents. Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, among others, all speak the same language.
Well, check that. The rotten apple to upset the cart, if there is going to be one is not a mystery. Yoenis Cespedes (for this year only) is still a New York Met.
Already, he has managed to capture headlines on the back pages of New York newspapers while contributing anything on the field for the team. And there is nothing to indicate his penchant for “me” will not subside.
Managing A Distraction
The Mets do, however, hold the “power of the purse” over Cespedes thanks to an incentive loaded reworked contract that (basically) says Cespedes will be paid on a piecework basis this year.
The power within that power rests with Mets manager Luis Rojas who will be making out the posted lineup every night. Thus, if Cespedes insists on being a distraction, Rojas can ensure he will be a non-paid and non-playing distraction to the team.
Cespedes is but one cog in a massive wheel that Rojas is oiling every day in his new post. He has the favor of a team already in sync from last year, and his only task, much like Aaron Boone when he inherited the Yankees, is not to screw it up.
If indeed timing is everything, then time is on the side of the New York Mets in 2020.