The Mets got off to a hot start, winning 11 of their first 12 games, and set a franchise record for most wins to start a season. Though powerful Yoenis Cespedes isn’t hitting consistently and Jose Reyes may have hit his last MLB home run last week against the Padres, the Mets are still at the top of the NL East and haven’t lost anyone to serious injury since Travis D’Arnaud.
While we reflect on a great month of Mets baseball and build hope for the 2018 season, we want to take some time to reflect on our personal favorite Mets memories during our 20 years of fandom.
As Ben and my grandfather could attest to, there is no time during the baseball season as laid-back and loose as Spring Training in sunny Florida. When I was younger, my father took my brother and me to Port St. Lucie to see the Mets play the Atlanta Braves at Tradition Field. I, seven-years-old at the time, was decked out in exactly what you would expect a kid to be wearing to a baseball game. I wore my Mets jersey, a hat and a glove on my right hand just in case a foul ball came my way. One of the advantages of Spring Training is that the best seats in the house are pretty inexpensive compared to what you see on Stubhub during the regular season. So we sat on the third base side, just about in between where the Mets bullpen and the visitor’s dugout.
As the game progressed, we indulged in the classic ballpark delicacies of french fries, fresh-squeezed lemonade and Hebrew National hotdogs. Just as my brother and I finished eating, the top of the fourth or fifth came to a close. It’s important for managers to get a good look at all of their players
during Spring Training, so the bullpen was always pretty active to our left.
We saw old-reliable Dave Racaniello still catching in the pen, Billy Wagner in blue and orange for the first time, and a left side of the infield that featured David Wright and Jose Reyes. But one relief pitcher, Jose Lima, knew he had the day off. Between
innings, I reached over the wall with the cup of fries in my hand and started asking anyone who walked by if they wanted some. You know, these guys get hungry during the game sometimes, so I figured I’d share with my big-league heroes.
After a few failed attempts and chuckles by the security workers nearby, Jose Lima jogged over to me, stuck his hand deep into the mini popcorn shaped bucket of fries and popped a few in his mouth. Then, he reached into his back pocket and took out a baseball. After he handed it to me, I turned to the crowd with the biggest smile on my face and raised the ball over my head. I’m convinced that if Instagram was around back then, I would have been on one of those Barstool videos that has the caption “alright maybe baseball is OK after all.”
I even got a little ovation from the
section around me. Little did I know at the time, legendary Mets announcer Gary Cohen was giving a play-by-play of the whole sequence, exclaiming “a trade, even better!” after the swap was made. We had recorded the game back home and rewatched that moment many times before I accidentally deleted it from the DVR, so if anyone has footage of 2006 Mets Spring Training
baseball, send it my way.
Jose Lima appeared in four games for the New York Mets in 2006, the last four games he would pitch of his 14-year MLB career, but after our anything-but-average trade, it’s no surprise I would be loyal to the Mets for life.
It’s 4 am in London, England. My father and I shake with angst as Carlos Beltran steps into the batter’s box. The bases are loaded with two out. This is why we play the game. Beltran looks at the first pitch for strike one. The next pitch from Adam Wainwright is a nasty curveball that Beltran barely gets a piece of. And then, bang. Strike three looking. My head immediately goes down with grief. Staying up all this time in a foreign country to watch my
beloved New York Mets disappoint me, knowing that I had to wake up for school in approximately two hours, was devastating. Little did I know that the Mets’ playoff drought would go from my second grade year to my senior year of high school.
Now, one might assume that my
favorite Mets memory comes from their most
recent World Series in 2015. However, my favorite memory came about a month
before that, on Labor Day, when the Mets played the Nationals.
It was a Harvey Day in Washington, D.C. The Mets held a three-game lead in the NL East. The game started with the Mets
going down routinely followed by two early Washington runs. They would trade runs in the second inning and then each team went scoreless until the sixth.
The sixth inning was one of the biggest turning points in this season. In typical Mets fashion, nothing is ever allowed to come easy. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Harvey loaded the bases with no one out. Michael A. Taylor came up to the plate. He swung and hit a routine single to center field. As Yoenis Cespedes ran over to field the ball, the ball took a bad bounce and went under his glove, which led to a Grand Slam inside-the-park home run. My head once again fell in grief. We really just blew it. Again.
The next inning, we came to bat. Not expecting much, the first two batters were walked and we suddenly had two men on. Wilmer Flores hit a single and the deficit was cut to five. A walk to Curtis Granderson narrowed the lead down to 7-3.
Suddenly, hope. Big Yoenis Cespedes walked up to the plate with the bases
loaded. Keep in mind that this man was on an absolute tear. He roped a bases clearing double to cut the lead to one. Sitting on my couch, the day before the first day of high school senior year, I was in shock.
The Mets never come back like this. Still down one the next two batters walk. Lucas Duda walked up to the plate with the bases loaded. He took ball one, ball two, then ball three. Ball four, we were TIED. A wild turn of events suddenly made this a 7-7 ballgame.
We went to the top of the eighth with two outs and utility outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis came to the plate. First pitch ball one. He hit the second pitch out to deep right-center. Harper and Taylor ran to chase it down. Their efforts would come to no avail as the Mets seize an 8-7 lead after being down six runs.
The Mets would go on to close this game out and eventually become National League Champions. This game resonates with me because it was a huge turning point in my Mets fandom. I saw fight and desire from the Mets that assured me that my team was special.
I think it should speak volumes, though, to the average sports fan that my favorite Mets moment came in September, and not October.