It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us. ~ Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Ah, what a season 2011 was… The moments played out just as that Charles Dickens play in it’s duality. Let me take you on a journey that will count down the Top 5 Best and Worst Moments of the 2011 season. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but in this case it’s more like ten-thousand. Enjoy our review of the 2011 season, Metsmerized Style!
Best Moment #5
The Mets beat the Phillies 2-1 in a 14 inning nail-biter at Citizens Bank Park. But the best moment of the night came in the middle of the game when the crowd began to chant ‘USA – USA” as news broke that President Obama announced that terrorist Osama Bin Laden had been killed by Navy Seals.
Worst Moment # 5
Mets players wanted to wear the hats of first responders when they played the Cubs on the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks during a nationally televised game on ESPN. But Major League Baseball said “no way” much to the shock and dismay of New Yorkers and Americans everywhere.
Best Moment #4
Jason Isringhausen pitches a scoreless tenth inning to preserve a Mets 5-4 win over the Padres. In doing so, Izzy becomes the 23rd closer in baseball history to record 300 saves, joining John Franco and Billy Wagner as the only men to do it in a Mets uniform. Wrestling with the decision to retire rather than return after missing two seasons, Izzy came to Mets spring training camp for an audition and was signed the next day. After the Mets traded K-Rod in July, Isringhausen became the team’s closer and the most reliable arm in the bullpen.
Worst Moment #4
Originally slated to re-join the rotation in late June or early July, Johan Santana’s return kept being pushed back until there was no more season left for the Mets. Santana never threw one pitch for the Mets in 2011 and now the team heads into this offseason with the same exact question as the last offseason – can the Mets count on a healthy return from Johan Santana?
Best Moment #3
Carlos Beltran hit a career-high three home runs – all two-run shots – in a 9-5 win over the Rockies. The six RBIs matched a career high for the Mets rightfielder who was finally healthy and having a great season. Beltran became the eighth Mets player to hit three home runs in one game – the last player to do it was Jose Reyes who hit three homers against the Philadelphia Phillies on Aug. 15, 2006. “I have never seen a day like that before,” Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Worst Moment #3
With the Mets in the thick of the Wild Card race and at the high water mark of their season, Carlos Beltran was traded to the San Francisco Giants for pitching prospect Zack Wheeler. After a 5-12 start, Beltran led the team to a 50-39 run that saw the team vault from 13 games back in the Wild Card to leap past seven teams and pull within six games back with two months to go. The Beltran-less Mets would go 22-32 the rest of the way and finish in fourth place, 25 games behind the Phillies.
Best Moment #2
Chris Capuano pitched the game of his life – a complete game, two hit shutout, striking out 13 and facing only one over the minimum as the Mets beat the Atlanta Braves 6-0. Cappy had a perfect game until a broken bat single by Dan Uggla in the fifth inning. It was considered by most as the best pitched game in the major leagues in 2011. For Capuano it was his first complete game since 2006.
Worst Moment #2
Ike Davis collides with David Wright while trying to catch an infield popup in front of the pitching mound at Citi Field. What was initially thought to be a mild calf sprain turned into an ankle bruise that would wipe out the rest of the season for the Mets first baseman. Davis was on the verge of tremendous sophomore campaign batting.302 with seven home runs and 25 RBIs in 36 games at the time of his injury.
Best Moment #1
After bunting for a single in his final at-bat of an amazing 2011 season, Jose Reyes becomes the first Batting Champion in Mets franchise history. The hit lifted Reyes’ average to .337 which was too much to overcome for Ryan Braun who finished five percentage points behind with a .332 average. It was a remarkable season for Reyes who also led the National League in most at-bats per strikeout (13.1) as well as multi-hit games and sharing the league lead in triples.
Worst Moment #1
The Mets’ financial uncertainty hovered over this season like a black cloud. Any potential move that might have helped the team gain more wins in the standings, was shelved for less costlier moves for reclamation projects and players returning from injuries. The only significant trades that the team made were not done with winning in mind, but only to dump salary and lower payroll. Unfortunately, the skies are still overcast as the team heads into the offseason. GM Sandy Alderson has already confirmed that payroll will be cut 25% and be around $100-110 million dollars in 2012. Some sources say it may not even top $100 million.
* * * * *
In compiling this list there were some obvious moments that didn’t make the cut but were worthy of Honorable Mentions.
— Justin Turner, who was a nice surprise this season, became the first Met to win the NL Rookie of the Month award.
— On June 28, Jason Bay and Carlos Beltran both hit grand slams in a 14-3 rout of the Detroit Tigers. It was only the second time in Mets history that they slugged two grand slams in the same game.
— There were a couple of brilliant starts by R.A. Dickey and even Ronny Paulino ignited a sweet comeback against the Yankees during the Subway Series.
— Of course another memorable moment came very early in the campaign when the Mets finally cut bait with Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo.
So these are the moments I will take away from the 2011 season, what are some of yours?
Graphics designed by Kelly, Capsules written by Joe D.