Make no mistake about it. I am writing this column for one reason and one reason alone. It’s for all of the long suffering Mets fans who wait approximately once per decade for their post-season thrill. And that includes me.
No Subway Series. On Tuesday night, New York fans could still harbor romantic thoughts about a Subway (World) Series, much as Nationals and Orioles fans were dreaming about a Beltway Series a few months ago. That all went kaput, just as the New York Dream ended with the Houston Astros, and Dallas Keuchel’s utter dominance of the Yankee aging bats. Beltran even managed a hit against the dominant Dallas, but there were no Pin Stripe Heroics, and the players have already traded their pinstripes for fishing gear.
What is that Mets Post Season History? It is rather short in terms of baseball history. Brief but exciting. The excitement may actually stem from the brevity and fleetingness of it. Just a thought. In a nutshell, it spans from 1969 to 2006.
1969 In 1969 behind a very fine pitching staff, including future Hall of Famer Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Nolan Ryan and Tug McGraw, the Mets swept the Braves 3-0 in the NLCS then slammed the Orioles, 4-1, in the World Series. That was the year when that fledgling ballclub that rose from the ashes of the departed Brooklyn Dodgers (blue) and New York Giants (orange) first made its mark on the baseball world. Losers no more! (Featuring Tom, Yogi and Tug)
About Seaver’s National Baseball Hall of Fame induction in 1992, he was inducted by the highest percentage ever recorded (98.84%).
1973 Just 4 short years later, the Mets returned to the Series with a different look but with some of the same great arms, namely Tom Terrific aka The Franchise, and after beating the Big Red Machine of Cincinnati, 3-2, in the NLCS, lost to the curly moustached Fingers, Catfish Huster and Finley-led Oakland Athletics in 7 games, 4-3. Crushed but not joyless, Mets fans could hold their heads high, relevant and in the Series 2 of 5 seasons in that span.
1986 Then those who were born prior to and alive from 1973-1986 had a very long wait before we could celebrate again in October. After beating the then National League Houston Astros in the NLCS, 4-2, the hard partying Darlings of Queens beat the Red Sox in seven, and the name Bill Buckner always will be synonymous with the Mets 1986 run. (Curse of the Bambino?) Hernandez, Carter, Backman, the Doc, Straw, and future Phillie and con Dykstra, this was one motley but victorious crew. A Great Read about the season:
1988 Back again in 1988, in the Mets first post-season matchup against the Dodgers, the Mets fell 4-3 in the NLCS.
1999 For the next generation of Mets fans who came of age in the 1980s, bring on another long drought until 1999 when baseball post-season had been transformed with expansion teams, Wild Cards and greater opportunities for teams to compete. The Mets locked down the Arizona Diamondbacks, 3-1, before falling to their nemesis, the Braves, in the NLCS. Three Brave Hall of Famers say it all: Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz. P.S. The Braves were then thumped by the Yankees, 4-0, in the World Series.
2000 On the backs of catcher Mike Piazza, pitchers Al Leiter and reliever John Franco, the Mets sailed into the first Subway Series in history after taking down the San Francisco Giants, 3-1 then the St. Louis Cardinals, 4-1. All hope and dreams were bashed by the Bronx Bombers in 5 games. The indelible image: (Piazza and Clemens at War)
2006 In what is beginning to feel like an eventful 4 decades only by this writing, the Mets returned again with a revamped lineup of some home grown talent (David Wright, namely), stars developed elsewhere (Carlos Beltran) and no-name pitchers who seemed to rise to the occasion (superstitious Oliver Perez). In what Mets fans hope will be a harbinger of things to come starting tonight in LA, the Mets swept the Dodgers, 3-0 in the NL Division Series but fell in a heartbreaker of a seventh game, losing to the Cardinals and their big bats (Pujols, Rolen) lights out pitching staff (Carpenter and Wainwright) in the NLCS, 4-3. Here is my personal photo from that game (Beltran at the Bat):
(Photo credit: Laura Farina, with thanks to a good friend for the invitation!)
It’s 2015 and we are back in the post-season another 9 years later. Many of us have changed jobs, gone gray, had children, even grandchildren, adopted dogs and some may have even lost teeth! But what we Mets Fans share is another opportunity for a thrill or two or more. We never should have been here, let’s face it. However, because of some timely trades at the mid summer trading deadline and the chemistry that ensued, we have a lineup that on the right day could be downright feared!
Why We Can Beat the Dodgers? Granderson, Wright, Cespedes, and Duda, we have a legitimate lineup of big leaguers now as opposed to the AAA lineup we had prior to the All Star break. And we have arms that are comparable to some of the best in franchise history. You say Seaver, I say deGrom, you say Koosman, I say Syndergaard. When he pitches and shows up to practice, Harvey can be one of the Met all time greats. The team that was rockin’ and rollin’ from the Flores near trade and Johnson-Uribe-Cespedes pickup in July through the sweep on the Nats in DC, September 7th through September 9th, that Mets team can beat anyone!
Why We Can Lose to LA: Down the stretch, the big league lineup looked like a AA lineup. The Mets couldn’t hit the lowly Phillies (swept) and managed to be no hit by Scherzer and without Grandy’s HR in the 8th inning to seal the victory in the final game of the regular season on October 4th, things were looking dire going into the post -season. The Mets also managed to lose the home-field advantage, which frankly didn’t seem to be ANY advantage in the final homestand.
The other two reasons why the Mets can lose to the Dodgers: Greinke and Kershaw.
So it’s really very simple: if the Mets bats produce, the Mets will win in 4. I could go out on a limb and say sweep but won’t because the Bats are still a ? The Amazins’ took the season series from the Dodgers and in my opinion, pitching is at least equal. And Kershaw has been horrible in the post-season so he has something to prove.
Mets Fans, the future can be very bright. Let’s take it a game at a time.