Thursday, September 10, 2015

What I've been doing all summer

There is something happening in my life that has been a part of my life for years, but in the last six months it has really flared up. I’ve hinted about it in the past but it’s finally time for me to talk about it more openly here.

How about those Mets?

This season has been a rollercoaster of Daniel Murphy chaos, Matt Harvey inning count drama, Yoenis Cespedes heroics, Wilmer Flores emotions and so so much more.

I had hope going into the season. Harvey was back after arm surgery, the pitching staff looked very sound. The rest of the lineup was Wright, Granderson and some prayers.

In April the team went on an eleven game winning streak. The pitching was doing some strong work while the bats were pulling out just enough to win.

The Wright got hurt, then d’Arnaud their steady young catcher got hurt.

Then the bats stopped working altogether. May and June were grim months as the team struggled to keep pace with the division leader. July was not much better. A player hitting .176 was hitting cleanup as injuries mounted and team depth diminished. What in the names of Mayberry, Monell and Muno was happening? There was discussion to let a couple of the better batting pitchers pinch hit. The fan base was screaming at GM Sandy Alderson to make a move to improve the team. Michael Conforto was brought up from the minors, and while he’s a fine young outfielder who is only going to get better, he was no savior. Then they brought up phenom Steven Matz, who pitched and hit very well for two games until he tore a muscle in his back. This, also, was so Mets.

In mid-July Alderson was forced to deal. He made a couple of trades of some promising minor league pitchers and brought in Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson. Both players immediately upgraded the slop that was on the bench and they immediately made impacts on the team on the field, and in Uribe’s case, in the locker room.

Later in the month, with reliever Jeurys Familia in a post All Star Game slump, Alderson traded with Oakland for reliever Tyler Clippard - a move that strengthened the bullpen and sent their closer a small message - which was received.

Then, on July, 29th, one of the most amazing, crazy and incompetent thing in franchise history happened. While losing to the San Diego Padres, internet rumors of a trade between the Mets and Brewers that would send outfielder Carlos Gomez to the Mets for shortstop Wilmer Flores and injured pitcher Zack Wheeler reached the team bench. Manager Terry Collins had not heard these rumors, and kept Flores in the game. Flores went out for his at bat and received very warm goodbye applause from the crowd at Citi Field and went he went to play his position, teams fell as he took the field.

The trade though, did not occur. The Mets thought Gomez was an injury risk and pulled out.

The Night of The Tears had happened.

Then, at the trading deadline two nights later, the Mets traded for Yoenis Cespedes. This was the power hitter the team was lacking all season. Cespedes was acquired just as the team was starting a series with the division leading Washington Nationals.

Game one was tight. A 1-1 tie that went into extra innings. In the bottom of the twelfth the first real magic from The Night of The Tears happened as Wilmer Flores hit a walk off home run that gave the Mets the 2-1 win. The Mets went on to a three game sweep of the Nats and were tied for first place in the NL East.. They were nowhere near out of it now. This was a pennant race.

In August the bats were unleashed in a fury. Lucas Duda hit about 40 home runs in a week. The team reeled off two straight 14-9 wins in Colorado, put up an insane sixteen run barrage in Philadelphia and slowly began extended their division lead.

The Captain, David Wright returned to the lineup after being out since April for treatment for spinal stenosis and provided his leadership and overall skills. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud was finally healthy - the team has a solid winning record when he’s in the lineup.

By the end of the month the Mets still led the division but things got a bit wonky in Miami as they lost two of three to the Marlins and held a four game lead with a three game series to the Nats to come.

During this series in Washington, the Mets were behind in each of those games, including an six run deficit in game two, a soul crushing defeat of Stephen Strasburg - who was pitching the game of the season until Johnson’s game tying home run, and swept the morale out of the Nats and now lead by seven games with 23 left to play.

Credit must also be given to Manager Terry Collins, who actually has a team to manage now. He’s platooning the right guys, knows how to treat his players. As long as he can handle the middle relief, which no manager can seem to do anymore, he’ll keep the ship sailing.

That’s where things stand today in this crazy season of on field crying, late game heroics and all of the amazing plays and players I have not mentioned. The Clubhouse Raccoon and Rally Parakeet have become as beloved as Wilmer Flores’ emotions as September solidifies and you realize your 45th year of Mets fandom is going to have an incredible ending. When they won it all in 1986 they ran away with the division and saved all the crazy for the playoffs. It feels so different this year. The less said about 2006 and 2007 the better. This season, every game, every week, brings drama, social media snark, excitement and victories.

No matter what happens; be it the end of this month, the beginning, middle or (preferably) the end of October - win or lose, there are going to be tears when this season finally ends.

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