Sometimes, being a Mets fan is awesome. Most of the time, it’s excruciating beyond belief. This past season was the latter for countless reasons, but for fans too young to remember 2007, it might not be the worst season in recent history.
The 2006 season ended with a loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 7 of the NLCS. Some fans still can’t forgive Carlos Beltran for watching that Adam Wainwright curveball bend into Yadier Molina‘s glove. That catapulted the Mets into the offseason with a sour taste in their mouths, knowing that they were inches away from the World Series.
Pedro Martinez underwent rotator cuff surgery late in 2006, Orlando Hernandez or “El Duque” was 40 years old and Steve Trachsel pretty much guaranteed his departure when he imploded in Game 3 of the NLCS so the team needed starting pitching. Omar Minaya, General Manager at the time, did not improve the starting rotation which consisted of Tom Glavine, El Duque, John Maine, Oliver Perez, rookie Mike Pelfrey and Pedro, who missed a good chunk of the season after his surgery.
They lost Cliff Floyd and signed 40-year-old Moises Alou. Damion Easley, 37 at the time, was signed as a fourth outfielder while fellow 37-year-old Jose Valentin was tendered a contract as well. They were plugged into a lineup with Paul Lo Duca (35), Carlos Delgado (35), Shawn Green (34), Sandy Alomar (41), and Julio Franco (48). This was an old team.
The Mets also lost Chad Bradford, Roberto Hernandez and Darren Oliver to free agency, severely impairing their bullpen. They signed only Scott Schoeneweis and Aaron Sele to replace them and join Billy Wagner, Aaron Heilman and Pedro Feliciano in the ‘pen.
Long story short, the Mets did not do what was necessary in order to back up their competitive outlook for the season — Sound familiar?
The 2007 season started off differently than 2017. When May ended, the Mets were riding high with a 34-18 record and sat pretty in first place. By the time the All-Star break rolled around, their record was 48-39 which wasn’t amazing, but was good enough to have a two-game lead over the second place Atlanta Braves. Before the July 31 trade deadline, they acquired Luis Castillo to play second base.
On Sept. 12, the Mets were 83-62 with a seven-game lead in the division. They were then swept by the Phillies, trimming the Mets’ lead to 3.5 games. They then lost two-out-of-three to the fourth place Nationals, shrinking their lead to 2.5 games. They showed signs of life taking three games out of four from the Florida Marlins and went into the last week of the season with a 2.5 game lead.
The Mets then lost five straight games getting swept by the Nationals, losing one to the Cardinals and one to the Marlins. They won their second-to-last game on Sept. 29 and with one game left on the season, the Mets were tied for first place with the Phillies. The Mets lost to the Marlins 8-1 and the Phillies won their game to win the division, leaving the Mets out of the playoffs as they finished third in Wild Card standings.
The biggest difference between 2007 and 2017 are that the Mets won a lot of games in 2007. They finished 88-74 which actually would have been good enough for the second Wild Card spot this season, beating the Rockies’ 87-75. What made 2007 so painful was the Mets had a seven-game lead as late as Sept. 12 and squandered it.
This past season was so excruciating for many reasons. With the exception of Jacob deGrom, Jose Reyes and Jerry Blevins, all of the Mets best players were either injured or traded. Even when healthy, pretty much everybody under-produced and Terry Collins‘ in-game managing left us constantly screaming at the TV. All of this was magnified by the fact that this team had World Series aspirations coming into this season, despite Sandy Alderson adding literally nobody this past offseason. Instead of the World Series, the Mets finished fourth in the NL east with a 70-92 record.
A big difference between 2007 and 2017 is that 2007 had its fair share of bright spots. Jose Reyes (.280/.354/.421 with 12 HR, 36 2B, 12 3B, and 78 SB in 160 games) and David Wright (.325/.416/.546 with 30 HR, 107 RBI, 42 2B, 34 SB, Gold Glove) both flirted with MVP-caliber seasons. Wright (fourth), Reyes (16th), and Beltran (20th) all finished in the top-20 in MVP voting. Pedro Martinez notched his 3,000th strikeout and Tom Glavine got win No. 300.
2017’s bright spots are a little dimmer but still present. Michael Conforto broke out, hitting .279/.384/.555 with 27 HR and 68 RBI in 109 games — but tore his posterior capsule, leaving his status for 2018 a big question mark. Juan Lagares played better center field than anyone else in the National League, but didn’t play enough innings to qualify for the Gold Glove. Jacob deGrom was great, but two starts in the middle of the season in which he allowed 15 earned runs in eight innings probably eliminated him from Cy Young consideration.
Amed Rosario made his long-awaited debut and did not disappoint, but Dominic Smith made his long-awaited debut and did disappoint. Brandon Nimmo broke out as a solid option in the outfield, but with Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto manning the corners, he would be forced to play in center field, not his best defensive position while displacing the Gold Glover Lagares.
After a couple of weeks to absorb our 2017 season, emotionally it felt so much like the 2007 season for me; two seasons filled with World Series aspirations that both ended in such immense and utter disappointment. But if I had to choose the one that cut the deepest, for me it’s 2017. At least in 2007 it was almost magical for five months.