A MMO Fan Shot by Josh Consalvo
“It’s part of the game”, “This is the business side of baseball” , “You try and tune that stuff out, but you know anything can happen”.
These are the phrases the Major Leaguers use around this time every year, and you know what – I get it. Players need to try and take as much emotion out of it as possible, because at any moment in time, their lives could be uprooted and they could be forced to move to a new city with new teammates. However, I’m not a player and so I don’t feel the need to take the emotion out of moments like this.
Lucas Duda was traded from the New York Mets to the Tampa Bay Rays, and I’m sad about it. To many, Lucas seemed like a low-key guy, who didn’t show much emotion, and one who tried to stay out of the spotlight. While this might be true on the surface, I’m here to remind you of some Duda moments you may have forgotten or neglected, and explain to you why Lucas Duda was not only a really, really good New York Met, but also explain why Lucas was the signal of hope for the eventual turnaround of the Mets franchise.
I want to start with June 1st, 2012. Remember that date? Yes, so do I – Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in Mets history. If you recall, Lucas Duda was an outfielder (sometimes I have a hard time believing I lived in a world where Duda played outfield, but I digress). Moments after Johan struck out David Freese to complete the no-no, the celebration ensued.
Seconds into the celebration, some brilliant man from the crowd at Citi Field wearing an old Gary Carter jersey and jorts decided to race onto the field and join in the dog-pile celebration. Here’s what you might not remember: since Duda had to run all the way from the outfield to join the fun, he was an outlier in the mob of now ex-Mets celebrating with Johan, so Duda took it upon himself to repeatedly punch jorts-guy in the gut until security wrestled him off. Please go re-watch this moment, and tell me Duda isn’t awesome.
2014 was a year of transition for the Mets, which for me felt remarkably similar to 2005, where the Mets were on the cusp of being contenders. In a critical early-season move, Sandy Alderson pulled the trigger on trading away Ike Davis, which signaled the beginning of the new future with Lucas Duda at first base.
With two games remaining in the 2014 season, Lucas Duda was sitting on 28 home runs. The Mets were playing out the string and closing out the season against the Houston Astros. These last two days of the season, for me as a fan, were the most hopeful, inspiring days of Mets baseball I had experienced in years – and it’s all because of Lucas Duda.
In game 161, the Mets were down 1-0 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, runner on first, and Lucas Duda at the plate. Moments later, Duda hits a screamer down the right field line that clipped the foul pole for the walk-off home run. The way Citi erupted was like they had just won the pennant.
“Meaningless game?, Don’t tell those guys.” Gary Cohen exclaimed in reference to the jubilant Mets players after the walk-off.
And that’s the thing: This wasn’t meaningless anymore. Lucas Duda was signaling to the fans that the waiting was almost over, and the Mets were sheer months away from relevance.
Less than 24 hours later in game 162, Duda hit his 30th home run of the season, and I remember loudly cheering from my living room couch when that ball cleared the fence. Duda was giving Mets fan hope, and not just “wishful thinking” type hope, he was providing substantial, results-driven hope.
So bring on 2015, and it’s time for all that talk of hope, confidence, and inspiration to turn into winning baseball, and Lucas Duda is at the center of it all again, whether you like it or not.
On opening day Lucas set the tone of the season early by driving in the go ahead run against Max Scherzer in Washington. Day one and Duda is delivering on what all Mets fans believed could be possible.
I few months later, the Nationals were strolling into town after one of the most bizarre weeks in Mets history. Everyone only seems to remember that Wilmer Flores hit a walk-off home run days after almost being traded to the Brewers.
Well, let me tell you about the week that Lucas Duda had. First off, in the game where Wilmer cried, Lucas Duda hit three home runs, becoming only the second Met ever to hit three home runs in a home game.
Then, a few days later in game two against the Nationals, Duda went 3-for-3 with 3 RBI in a game the Mets won…3-2. Just a day later on Sunday Night Baseball, Lucas Duda capped off a 5 run 3rd with the 3rd home run of the inning. I distinctly remember seeing him clap his hands together in exuberance when the ball cleared the wall.
Without Lucas Duda’s performance that magical weekend, the Mets do not sweep the Nationals. Even more so, that weekend pulled the Mets to a tie of first place in the National League East and the Mets never looked back from that moment. Who knows what transpires after that weekend if the Mets don’t sweep.
Of course, we all remember the big Duda moments of 2015: The NL East clinching 1st inning grand slam, game four of the NLCS, and of course…the creation of @wefollowlucasduda.
All this to say, I already miss Lucas. He’s been on the Mets since I was 17 years old, and I’m not afraid to say that I got emotional hearing the news of the trade. I understand why it needed to happen, but some of my favorite Mets moments of the last several years were large in part to Lucas Duda.
As a fan base, we watched Lucas grow up and become a really good major league baseball player, and he gave everything he had for the team I care most about, so there’s no shame in that manifesting itself into an emotional attachment to the guy. So good luck, Lucas, I’ll be rooting for ya.
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This Fan Shot was contributed by Josh Consalvo. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 20,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.