As an aspiring journalist, I’m trained to put forward a professional appearance. Whether in my radio sports updates at WAER or on my shifts anchoring sports shows at CitrusTV, I can’t overtly root for my Mets. But last night was different.
Like most of you, I watched the game purely as a fan; and like most of you, I felt my heart drop to my stomach when Conor Gillaspie blasted that three-run homer in the ninth to seal the Mets’ fate.
It’s not often that I find myself at a loss for words. But that’s exactly where I was last night, watching the game in a cramped dorm room with a few friends. You could have cut the tension in the air with a knife. Nobody spoke a word, faces just rested sadly in open palms. As we sat in stunned silence, I couldn’t help myself. In the moments following the season’s most crushing loss, I began to think back on the year and what I saw from our New York Mets.
Looking back on last night, the old adage of baseball as a game of inches could not ring more true. Just think, if Familia gets that pitch up and in just a little more on Gillaspie, the Mets probably make it out of the inning unscathed. Just think, the game likely goes to extra innings and Madison Bumgarner can’t pitch forever, right? Think about the outcome of the game if the Giant’s shaky bullpen comes into play.
It’s important to acknowledge that October baseball was all but a pipe dream in mid-August. Sitting a game under .500 on August 19, the Mets fell 8-1 to a beleaguered San Francisco squad. The feeble effort would drop the Amazins to 60 and 62, 5.5 games out of a wildcard spot. Decimated by injuries and poor play by key players, the seemingly infallible Nate Silver (FiveThirtyEight) gave the Mets just a 13 percent chance to make the postseason.
What happened after that? From August 20 to the season’s last day, the Mets compiled a major league best 27-13 record to storm into the playoffs. Who would have thought that our underdog crew would make the postseason behind the likes of Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, and T.J. Rivera? Definitely not me.
Without a doubt the theme of the season was beating odds, and the Mets did that in just making a playoff appearance.
Still, waking up this morning, it all seemed like a bad dream. For a second, I imagined Bumgarner was knocked out early, the Mets pushed across a few early runs, and the champagne celebration in the clubhouse ended with the Mets heading to Chicago. But the cruel ESPN update on my phone jolted me back to reality. The season is over.
I’ll freely admit that I’m still in a funk today, but the positives of this season far outweigh everything else. This season was quintessential Mets baseball. While watching often made you curse, scream and maybe even throw things at your TV, your gut told you that they would somehow find a way to win.
Looking at the big picture, I cannot express how proud I am of this team. The grit and persistence shown this year perhaps even rivals that of Tug McGraw‘s “Ya Gotta Believe” Mets. Next season, our Mets will be back, strong, healthy, and looking for redemption. Look out MLB and LGM.