Baseball Notes: Meet the Mets
I grew up in the middle of a triangle of Red Sox, Yankees, and Mets fans in Connecticut and through the years I found that I really appreciated their broadcast team of Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling.
When I was in Phoenix, I actually saw quite a few Mets games and a few of them had some interesting developments. I went to one game that went into the 14th inning so they played take me out to the ball game for a second time. Another was Matt Harvey's mlb debut and he had eleven strike outs, a feat I didn't notice until I saw a headline when I got home (almost like the time Kelly Johnson hit for the cycle and I almost didn't realize it). One of the biggest highlights was seeing Ike Davis play, a former ASU player and Phoenix native who had a lot of fans in the crowd and he hit a home run that went right through my fingers in right field.
I have specific memories of growing up watching weekend Mets games and even getting a vibrant poster whose bright green grass and blue and orange pinstripe uniforms gave me images of warm summer days in the cold winter of my unheated room (seriously, no heat in the house in CT and my room was the furthest from the wood stove). I loved getting baseball cards for Greg Jeffries, Howard Johnson, David Cone, and Doc Gooden. I have a specific memory of a sports page in the street near my grandparents summer house with a picture of Anthony Young, "AY," as he was in the midst of his two consecutive seasons of 2-14 and 1-16 records. I remember thinking that he was actually not that bad of a pitcher and that he looked the part of a good young pitcher and in hindsight his ERA's were pretty respectable for such bad records (4.11 and 3.77, respectively).
There's something very fortunate about the Mets coming into being in the majors. The Dodgers and Giants left New York and took their iconic stadiums with them and the Mets found themselves in Shea Stadium. Shea ended up being a bit of a big toilet before it was closed down, but it had a storied history of concerts including the Beatles and the Beach Boys. The Mets were able to parse together main colors from the Giants and Dodgers for their uniforms and lucked into the odd but appealing orange and blue duds they still don.
They have gone through many peculiarities in their history from being the worst team ever in their first year to winning the world series before the end of that decade. From coming back to beat the Red Sox in 1986 in a series that included a strange ending to game six where one columnist proclaimed the Red Sox essentially had killed his father and had come back to try to kill him. Or, losing the 2000 Subway World Series against the Yankees which included a play where Roger Clemens claimed to mistake a part of a broken bat for the ball that he went on to throw at Mike Piazza. The Mets had been one of the last teams to throw a no-hitter until recent years when Johan Santana broke that string by going well over his pitch count to complete the game, an act that seems to have led him to injuries that have ended his career.
The Mets snuck their way into the World Series last year on the back of Daniel Murphy's historic post season power output but weren't quite able to beat the Royals. This wasn't a failure to end their season with a loss as they were able to make quite a run with their powerful young arms and resilient lineup. This year the Mets have been successful enough to have a winning record but have faced some pretty daunting injuries to end the seasons of David Wright, Lucas Duda, Matt Harvey and Zach Wheeler, all four of whom are thought of as major pieces to the team.
They have succeeded on the arms of Noah Syndergaard (6th in the NL in K's), Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, and the improbable 43 year old All-Star Bartolo Colon who all have ERA's under 3.60. Their closer Jeurys Familia is leading the league in saves with 33 just after the mid-way point of the season and Addison Reed has rebounded from being an atrocious closer for the Diamondbacks to having an ERA barely over 2.00 as a setup man.
Neil Walker has not had an especially good batting average after being traded from the Pirates in the off season but he has had power, and he has fared much better than Jonathan Niece, who he was traded for. The brightest spot in the lineup has been Yoenis Cespedes who is an absolute freak of nature. Every season of his major league career he has had at least one highlight throw from the outfield where he threw out a runner in a superhuman way that had never been seen before. He is in the top 10 in the NL in homers and his workout videos after he left Cuba are a thing of legend.
The Mets aren't bad this year, but injuries have kept them from being true World Series contenders for a second straight year
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