Tag Archives: New York Mets

Catch the Heartbreak

Prior to their 2015 surge to the World Series, the New York Mets experienced a nine-year drought of postseason-less baseball. This brings us all the way back to 2006, a year of wide-eyed young stars and seasoned veterans. The perfect combination, or so they had thought, to bring Queens its third championship in franchise history. Team chemistry had a lot to do with the success of the 2006 Mets. All of their hard work culminated to a National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

With their entire season on the line, the Mets sent Oliver Perez to the mound against Jeff Suppan in Game 7. The game was tied at one going into the sixth inning. What happened in the top of that inning would be forever etched in MLB history as one of the greatest defensive plays in the sport’s postseason history. Endy Chavez robbed Scott Rolen of a home run at the left field wall and doubled off Jim Edmons at first base to end the inning. Had he not made “the catch,” the Cardinals would have been up by two runs, which would have likely put the final nail in the coffin for the Mets. Fittingly, the advertisement along the left field wall at Shea Stadium was AIG’s slogan, “the strength to be there.”

Despite Endy’s heroics, the Mets would lose that game in 2006, sending them packing until they finally reached the postseason again in 2015. Fast forward one year later, and the Mets are in the 2016 Wild Card game against the San Francisco Giants, trying to scratch and claw their way back to the NLDS.

The stage was set at Citi Field for the ultimate pitchers’ duel between Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner.

Each ace battled their way into the late innings of the game without allowing a run. Just as Perez did ten years prior, Syndergaard got into a bit of a jam in the sixth inning. With a man on second, Brandon Belt hit the ball to deep center field.

Curtis Granderson, who was playing center that night, had been having a mediocre year until about September. Once that final month hit, he turned on the jets, and had the breakout month the lineup desperately needed. Already a hero for his crucial role in getting the team to the do-or-die game, Granderson tracked the ball over his head all the way to the warning track, and made an incredible catch as he crashed into the wall.

Witnessing this from the right field stands transported me, and likely many other Mets fans, back to Endy in ‘06. But this time, ten years later, we were confident the results would be different.

They weren’t.

The Mets fell to the Giants after closer Jeurys Familia allowed a three-run homer to Conor Gillaspie in the ninth inning. A defeat equally, if not more crushing, than the one in ‘06.

The moments when Chavez and Granderson made their catches were the moments all Mets fans and players alike had the same thought: “We are not losing this freaking game.”

Hang in there Mets fans. Here’s hoping the third time will be the charm for a season-saving catch that will actually save the season.

images:
http://www.northjersey.com/
http://www.newsday.com/

Bartolo Colon makes history twice in a week

We all know the ever-growing legend of Bartolo Colon, the nearly 43-year-old pitcher for the New York Mets. Bartolo has been nothing if not solid in his two years with the Mets and has had incredible longevity to stick around for what is now his 19th season. But in his last two starts he has entered the record books in two unique ways.

On Monday against Atlanta, Colon earned his 220th career win. Not only is that the highest number among active pitchers but it also moved him past Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez into second place on the All Time list of Wins by a Dominican born pitcher. Colon is now only behind Juan Marichal.

And then just yesterday, Colon was at it again launching a two-run home run off of James Shields in San Diego for his first career home run. In doing so, Colon became the oldest player to hit their first career home run, moving past another Hall of Famer in Randy Johnson.

There is usually nothing more fun than watching a Bartolo Colon start. At nearly 300 pounds Colon certainly doesn’t look like he should be a professional athlete and yet his feats of athleticism are remarkable. Last year Colon set a career high for hits in a season. He continues to be a control wizard and rarely walks anyone. He’s exceptional when it comes to fielding his position and the Mets even made a Spring Training drill in honor of Colon and last year’s behind the back flip to first base against the Marlins. And his at bats are usually top entertainment, mostly as a result of wild swings and an ill-fitting helmet. But on some beautiful occasions, Colon makes contact and if he gets all of his bulky frame behind a ball can get some serious exit velocity on it. And if he does, more often than not he carries the bat with him to first base.

If there’s one thing to take from this it’s that there is absolutely nothing Bartolo can’t do and that we should strive to live our lives as happily as Bartolo Colon does. #BigSexy2016

Can They Get There Again?

In 2015, the New York Mets fell just short of their first World Series title in nearly 30 years. They were defeated four games to one by the Kansas City Royals in a series that, in hindsight, should have been much closer. Many even say that the Mets should have taken the series, as they had late leads in games one, four, and five. While I do credit the Royals for their relentless comeback efforts, and their ability to capitalize on errors made by the Mets in the late innings of games four and five, I wholeheartedly believe that the Mets  ultimately acted as their own worst enemy.

Mets closer, Jeurys Familia, who had been nearly perfect all season, blew three saves in the World Series. Two of these blown saves were direct results of errors made by Mets infielders (second baseman Daniel Murphy, and first baseman Lucas Duda). Perhaps it was the pressure that took a toll on the team during those late innings. Many of the 2015 Mets players had never played in such high stakes games before. Going into 2016, I believe the experience they have gained will propel them right back to the Fall Classic, and that we are likely to see a different outcome. I could very well see the 2016 World Series featuring the Royals and the Mets once again, but I believe the Mets have what it takes this time around.

2016 holds more promise for the Mets than ever before, with a key returning bat in Yoenis Céspedes, new additions in Asdrúbal Cabrera and Neil Walker, and the resurgence of Zack Wheeler to undoubtedly the best (and newly postseason experienced) rotation in baseball. All of this under the leadership of the Captain, David Wright, leaves me with little doubt that Mets can perform to at least the standard that they set in the previous season.

With all of that being said, I do not by any means believe that the Mets will run away with the league championship, or even the division title. The Washington Nationals will yet again pose a significant challenge to the Mets in the East, but the Mets’ rotation is what should ultimately lead them passed worthy competitors.

Other teams will now be more eager than ever to knock off the reigning National League Champions in what should be a very exciting season.

Here’s to 2016.

image: http://www.wsj.com/articles/who-is-this-team-and-what-have-you-done-with-the-new-york-mets-1445523148

 

 

Thumbs Up: Mike Piazza

When Mike Piazza was traded to the New York Mets I was three years old. When he left the Mets, I was 10. Now, I know that even 10 is a young age to watch and fully understand sports.

But I remember Mike Piazza.

Many people of my generation born around the same time as me, recognize David Wright as the face of the Mets. And they should. Wright has been with the Mets for 11 years and he is the captain after all.

But I do remember a time before there was David Wright. When the guy you wanted at the plate in a big spot wore number 31 and not number 5.

For the longest time, the Hall of Fame was full of myths and legends. The Hank Aarons and Jackie Robinsons and Willie Mayses of the world. Those players whose feats you heard about but couldn’t understand because you weren’t there.

Now I’ve reached the point in my life where the inductees are people that I’ve seen play. Tom Glavine and Pedro Martinez and Ken Griffey Jr. are all players who, though it takes effort, I can remember having seen.

But none of them have the impact that Piazza did for me. Everybody picks out their favorite player on their favorite team, either consciously or subconsciously. The first guy that I came to recognize as a good player, the face of a team and someone who brought hope and joy to fans was Mike Piazza.

There is something special to me about seeing Piazza get elected to the Hall of Fame. New York will always love Mike. We will always remember the late game dramatics and the heroism. The monstrous power and the healing power of one swing.

But beyond all that I will always have a soft spot for Mike Piazza. He was my first sports hero and this election is an honor that was 4 years overdue for the greatest offensive catcher in the history of the game and a man who was a pleasure to watch play the game of baseball.

So thumbs up and congratulations to Mike Piazza on his election to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Now the Mets need to get with the program and retire his number 31.