Sunday, September 27, 2015

Break On Through

So, we can finally say it. The Mets are Champions of the National League East for 2015. It actually happened. I saw it. And I probably watched it about 44 times afterward. You know, just to make sure.

The clinching game was won on Saturday afternoon very much in the same spirit the team has played with all season, and that's been a full team effort. No one player stands out above anyone else. Yes, there are players with more flair and some lesser pieces but for the most part it's been the formula of a different hero each game. And then go from there. And even before the team turned it around in August, that's how it's been. After Friday's efforts by Noah Syndergaard and Lucas Duda, Saturday it was Duda, with help from Matt Harvey and an exclamation point by David Wright. And fittingly, it was Jeurys Familia on the mound at the end, striking out Jay Bruce and sealing the Mets first Division title since 2006.

A lot, of course, has happened since then, and this Blog has been around for basically all of it, since we first laid down our shingle in 2007. At the time you wouldn't have thought it would take 9 years for the Mets to get back to the Playoffs (and we can now use the "P" word) but it did. It was 9 years of a lot of bad, fandom-testing things. Collapses. More Collapses. Humiliating moments. Indignities. Being regarded as a laughingstock. Injuries. More injuries. Oliver Perez. Luis Castillo. NNNNEEY STINK!

The List could go on forever. History can't be erased, unfortunately, and these are still things that we as Mets fans will continue to live with. But without struggle there lacks ultimate joy in success and that's why this Division Title means more than most, probably. Yes, every Division Title in Mets history has come on the heels of some years of struggle. I can't speak to '69 and '73 since I wasn't alive but '86 had been brewing for a few years and '88 came right on the heels of that. '99 and '00, beloved as they were, were a total departure from the bad years leading up to it. And '06 was just a team of assassins built in similar fashion.

This 2015 team is different. It's mostly built from within, but it's taken a long time to come together. This is a team that's young enough to not know any better, but also veteran enough to have bridged eras. There's still 4 players on the roster that go back to the last game at Shea Stadium, and 3 of them haven't even come close to sniffing a Postseason. And sure, I've derided Daniel Murphy, Jon Niese and Bobby Parnell plenty over the years but in reality they've been solid, devoted Mets the entire time and they deserve the spoils of victory just as much as anyone. And, of course, David Wright, the only player left from that last era in 2006; a baby in those days and now of course the guy driving the bus from an emotional standpoint.

Now, it's players like Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz who are like the Wright and Reyes of that former era, and it's these 4 that stand central as the key to this team's success. The Mets went through this season being able to throw a pitcher who could potentially dominate the opposition just about every night and that went a long way in not only winning games, but helping to bring the winning attitude that this team had been lacking for so many years. Not that it was smooth sailing every night but how long has it been since the Mets had pitchers that they sent to the mound and you always felt confident you were going to get a strong outing out of them? Even in those most "recent" playoff years, the Mets never had pitching quite like this. It makes all the difference in the world.

This, of course, is just one step towards the Ultimate Prize and the Mets will have a tough road ahead of them to get to that point. The Dodgers are likely the first team to get in the way, but the NLDS won't begin for them until October 9th, which may as well be 6 months away. But until that time, the Mets and most especially their fans will be basking in the afterglow of this Division Title, I can guarantee that. It's been a long time in coming and it's required an awful lot of patience, and an awful lot of trust. But we believed in Sandy Alderson and we believed in Terry Collins (and maybe the Backman people will finally shut up because there's no way he would have done the job with this team) and finally, the pieces came into place and finally, the Mets are once again a winning team. Whatever happens from here, 2015 is now a Pantheon Year, up there with 1969, 1973, 1986, 1988, 1999, 2000 and 2006 in Mets Lore.

No comments: