As this decade closes out at midnight today, the Mets will actually enter their seventh decade of baseball. Before proceeding forward, let’s take a look at the best moments from each year of this decade:
On the field, it was Angel Pagan hitting an inside-the-park home run and starting a triple play in the same game.
In a moment no one saw coming, Chris Capuano had a two hit shutout where he struck out 13:
This was the year of Harvey, and there was a lot to choose from with his near perfect game, bloody nose game, Harvey’s Better game, and others, but it’s hard to top him and David Wright starting the All Star Game at Citi Field.
Every single defensive play made by Gold Glove winner Juan Lagares:
With this being the fifth pennant in Mets history, there are many moments, but perhaps the biggest is Daniel Murphy‘s postseason heroics:
The Mets would need to make a late charge to make the postseason in consecutive seasons for the second time in team history. The lasting image from that run was Asdrubal Cabrera‘s walk-off homer:
After an injury plagued 2016, Michael Conforto would emerge as an All-Star, and his season was highlighted by an impressive homecoming:
It was melancholy, but we got to see Wright play one final game as a member of the New York Mets:
If you were a Mets fan looking to latch onto something to give you hope that Carlos Beltran was the right hire, he gave you the line. Standing on the stage, wearing his old number 15, Beltran said, “I just can’t wait to rewrite our story.”
It shouldn’t be lost on anyone Beltran said that wearing the Mets pinstripe uniform. During his playing days, Beltran did not wear them often. Back then, the Mets mostly wore their black jerseys and the Brooklyn Dodger style jerseys. Going to the 2006 postseason, the Mets would not wear them until Games 6 and 7 of the NLCS. As we know, that series would end with Beltran striking out looking on an Adam Wainwright curveball.
That could be one way Beltran looks to rewrite our story.
But it’s more than that. Late in his Mets career, Beltran had to deal with injuries, and he would clash with the front office over career saving knee surgery. In the ensuing years, it does not seem the Mets have learned from this experience.
Matt Harvey‘s TOS was initially described as a mechanics issue, and he would pitch the ensuing year with what was described as an atrophied throwing arm. Noah Syndergaard was allowed to pitch without an MRI. The team fought with Yoenis Cespedes over his double heel surgery. The list goes well beyond this group.
They could rewrite that story too.
In 2011, Beltran was traded to the San Francisco Giants for Zack Wheeler. Wheeler is now a free agent, and he appears set to get a big free agent deal. For many, this is because Wheeler is the free agent who is most likely going to take off next year. This is not too dissimilar from Daniel Murphy.
Murphy was on the precipice of being an All-Star caliber player, and the Mets opted to let him walk and just take the draft pick compensation. The balance of power in the NL East shifted back to the Nationals when Murphy went there and the Mets thought they could replace him with Neil Walker.
The Mets learning that mistake and investing in their own players is a good place to rewrite the story.
Drawing that Murphy parallel out further, the Mets drafted Anthony Kay with that compensation pick. Kay had a great year in the minors this year leading to his being traded with Simeon Woods Richardson to the Toronto Blue Jays for Marcus Stroman. Like with the Walker trade and with the team trading Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz, the Mets were looking for shortcuts to building a competitive roster while also not spending money.
This is a free agent class with Wheeler, Stephen Strasburg, Anthony Rendon, and a whole host of other players who could significantly improve this Mets team. In signing those players, the Mets will begin to rewrite the story.
Mostly, the Mets can rewrite the story by investing financially in their team, making smart moves to build a complete roster, allowing their injured players to heal, and by allowing their new manager to lead this team. If you look at it, the last time the Mets really did that was building that 2006 New York Mets team.
That team came within an at-bat of a World Series. With this Mets team having Beltran’s experience from that at-bat and all the ensued after, including his finally getting his ring with the 2017 Houston Astros, perhaps things will be much different. Hopefully, it never comes to that. In the end, that’s all the matters. We all want to see Carlos Beltran win a World Series ring with the New York Mets.
If that happens, Beltran will finally get the love and adoration from this fanbase like he always deserved. Sure, there is a significant portion of the fanbase who have and always will. Still, there are those who never let him off the hook for that strikeout or other events. If Beltran leads the Mets to victory, he will be universally beloved.
That would be the best way to end this story. Sorry, rewrite our story.
On February 5, 2012, Eli Manning threw an amazing 38 yard pass to Mario Manningham starting off the Giants game winning drive in Super Bowl XLVI. After Ahmad Bradshaw stumbled into the end zone with the latest rushing TD in Super Bowl history, and a Tom Brady Hail Mary falling harmlessly to the ground, the New York Giants won their fourth Super Bowl in team history.
With the World Series now completed and the 2019 baseball season officially over, that Giants Super Bowl now stands as the only championship won by a New York sports team. That officially makes this the worst ever decade in New York sports history. In fact, prior to this decade, New York had not seen fewer than three championships in any decade:
|1920s||6||New York Giants (1920 – 1921), New York Yankees (1927 – 1928), New York Giants (1927), New York Rangers (1928)|
|1930s||8||New York Yankees (1932, 1936 – 1939), New York Rangers (1933), New York Giants (1934, 1938)|
|1940s||5||New York Rangers (1940), New York Yankees (1941, 1943, 1947, 1949)|
|1950s||9||New York Yankees (1950 – 1953, 1956, 1958), New York Giants (1954), Brooklyn Dodgers (1955), New York Giants (1956)|
|1960s||4||New York Yankees (1961 – 1962), New York Mets (1969), New York Jets (1969)|
|1970s||4||New York Knicks (1970, 1973) New York Yankees (1977 – 1978)|
|1980s||6||New York Islanders (1980 – 1983) New York Mets (1986), New York Giants (1987)|
|1990s||4||New York Giants (1991), New York Yankees (1996, 1998-1999)|
|2000s||3||New York Yankees (2000, 2009), New York Giants (2008)|
|2010s||1||New York Giants (2012)|
Looking at it, this is the first decade since the 1910s where New York did not have at least three championships. In that decade, there were none as the New York Giants lost four World Series and the Brooklyn Robins lost one themselves.
But that was really it. The NHL was established towards the end of the decade in 1917. The NFL wasn’t established until 1920, and the NBA was not founded until 1947.
As has been noted many times over, this was also the first decade since those 1910s where the New York Yankees did not make a World Series. This decade’s team didn’t make it there largely because of Justin Verlander with the Yankees losing in the ALCS to his teams in 2012, 2017, and 2019.
The only teams who would make it to the championship series were the 2014 New York Rangers and the 2015 Mets. The Rangers lost in five to the Los Angels Kings in a very questionably officiated series. As for the Mets, they blew it with Terry Collins mismanaging and crucial errors from Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda leading to two of Jeurys Familia‘s three blown saves.
In the ensuing season, the Mets would lose the Wild Card game as Madison Bumgarner outlasted Noah Syndergaard. The Rangers had a run with three Conference Finals in four years. The New York Jets had their second AFC Championship Game at the beginning of a decade which has largely been associated with the Butt Fumble.
The New York Knicks, New York Islanders, and Brooklyn Nets never got out of the second round. On the topic of the Nets, even if we incorporate the New Jersey teams, the New Jersey Devils lost the 2012 Stanley Cup to the Los Angeles Kings.
Thankfully, this decade of relative New York ineptitude has come to an end, and there is some hope on the horizon. The Mets have an impressive core with Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Jacob deGrom, Edwin Diaz, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, Amed Rosario, and Syndergaard.
The New York Rangers are properly rebuilding, and they are a year or two away from real contention. The New York Islanders leadership with Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz is as good as there is in all of sports. The New York Giants and New York Jets have potential franchise QBs in Daniel Jones and Sam Darnold.
The Brooklyn Nets have Kyrie Irving, and next year, a healthy Kevin Durant. The New York Knicks are well, they’re the Knicks. Even with them being the Knicks, we see some hope at the end of the tunnel for New York sports in the ensuing decade, and you could actually foresee a chance where they surpass the nine championships of the 1950s.
With the Washington Nationals defeating the Houston Astros to win the 2019 World Series, the National League East has joined the American League Central as the only divisions in baseball to have had each of their teams win a World Series.
In terms of the AL Central, while all of their teams have won a World Series, not all of them have done it recently. For example, the Cleveland Indians last won in 1948, which was before the Mets or Nationals even came into existence. The Nationals first became a franchise in 1969, and they played their first game against Tom Seaver and the New York Mets. Little did anyone know it at the time, but that 1969 Mets team would win the World Series.
The Mets next World Series title came in 1986. As noted by Mark Simon of Sports Info Solutions, Jesse Orosco would become the last relief pitcher to have an RBI in a World Series game. This would also mark the last time the New York Mets have won a World Series.
Since that time, each of the Mets division rivals have won at least one World Series.
In the strike shortened 1995 season, the Atlanta Braves finally got over the hump when World Series MVP Tom Glavine pitched eight shut out innings allowing just one hit against an absolutely stacked Cleveland Indians lineup. Two years later, Glavine would lose Game 6 of the NLCS to MVP Livan Hernandez and the Florida Marlins.
When Edgar Renteria singled home Craig Counsell in the 11th inning of Game 7, that Marlins team would win their first World Series. Six years later, the Marlins would win their second World Series when Josh Beckett pitched a complete game shutout on three days rest to beat the 2003 New York Yankees in six games.
In 2008, the Philadelphia Phillies would break through and win the second World Series title in team history. Their clincher came when they and the Tampa Bay Rays resumed a rain shortened game the following day. The Phillies returned to the World Series the following year, but they lost in six to the New York Yankees.
That leaves the Mets with the longest drought, which stands at 33 years, as the longest in the division. It is not like the Mets haven’t had their chances.
Everything changed in 1988 with Mike Scioscia‘s grand slam. The 1999 Mets couldn’t pull off the miracle with Armando Benitez and John Franco blowing a save before Kenny Rogers walked in the series winning run. The following year, both Todd Zeile and Mike Piazza would come just short of hitting homers.
The 2006 Mets saw Guillermo Mota shake off Paul Lo Duca, and Carlos Beltran take a wicked Adam Wainwright curveball. There were the ensuing collapses the following years with Glavine getting shellacked by the Marlins in 2007, and Scott Schoeneweis allowing a homer to Wes Helms the ensuing year.
The Mets wouldn’t return to the postseason until 2015. Their World Series hopes were dashed when Daniel Murphy overran a ball, and Lucas Duda thew one away. The following year, Madison Bumgarner proved why he is an all-time great postseason pitcher with his throwing a complete game shutout in the 2016 Wild Card Game.
With Zack Wheeler being a free agent, the Mets offseason was already going to be an interesting one. It is now all the more interesting as you consider all the moves this team will need to make to bring home the team’s first World Series since 1986.
The 2019 Washington Nationals World Series winning team had many parallels to the 2015 New York Mets pennant winning team. Really, the parallels go further than that. Those parallels bring forth a sense of melancholy when you consider what the Nationals could do that the Mets didn’t.
First and foremost, you think of how David Wright isn’t going to get the ring which Ryan Zimmerman just one. The two of them grew up together, were first round draft picks, and they were both Gold Glove All Star third baseman playing in the same division. They’d both suffer career altering injuries. In Wright’s case, it was career ending, but Zimmerman was able to overcome his injuries. That is part of the reason why Zimmerman has a ring, and Wright doesn’t.
Zimmerman might’ve won in 2012, but the Nationals would lose in the NLDS. One of the reasons for that loss was Stephen Strasburg was shut down.
Unlike Matt Harvey, Strasburg heeded the advice of Scott Boras, and Strasburg put his career above one shot at a World Series. To the Nationals credit, they did the same. Of course, the Mets pressured Harvey to pitch, and in the process, they reneged on their previous agreements. In the end, Harvey would pitch more innings than anyone had previous pitched post Tommy John.
As noted previously, Dave Martinez did what Terry Collins didn’t do. He lifted Strasburg one batter in the ninth. Through and through, the Nationals knew how to treat and handle their franchise starter, and the Mets didn’t.
On the subject of Martinez, it is noteworthy he was a first time manager in 2018 like Mickey Callaway. Like Callaway, both were on the hot seat entering this season. In fact, both of them had seats scolding hot at points during the season. The Nationals stuck by Martinez, and they won a World Series, while the Mets are conducting a search for their next manager with former Mets player and current Nationals first base coach Tim Bogar among the candidates.
In terms of players with ties to both teams, Asdrubal Cabrera would win his first ring with the Nationals. To his credit, Cabrera did all he could do in 2016 to get the Mets into the Wild Card Game, but the Mets would lose that game. Obviously, the Nationals would win that game making a stunning come from behind victory.
Other interesting tidbits was Max Scherzer having a start similar to the one Jacob deGrom had in Game 5 of the 2015 NLDS. Scherzer faced off against Zack Greinke much like deGrom did four years ago. Another interesting tidbit was like with Daniel Murphy in 2015, it took a home run from the second baseman to give their team a 3-2 lead. Well, actually Howie Kendrick was the DH last night, but he has been a second baseman for much of the year.
Finally, when thinking of the Washington Nationals franchise, you come to think of Gary Carter. He was the first ever player from that franchise inducted into the Hall of Fame, and it was the result of the Baseball Hall of Fame not permitting him to wear a Mets cap like he wanted. Part of the reason why was Carter didn’t want to go in the Hall with a team with whom he had no ties.
In the ensuing year, the Nationals unretired his number, and there is little reference or honoring him or the other Montreal Expos greats. Still, while the Nationals fans don’t remember him, we, as Mets fans will, especially because it was Carter who started the greatest rally in World Series history. That rally helped that 1986 team accomplish what the 2019 Nationals did – win a World Series.
Even with the Mets missing out on the Wild Card by three games, we will actually see some Mets in the World Series. Technically speaking, there are former Mets players in the World Series. So, in that sense, no matter who wins the World Series, we are going to see a Mets player get a ring.
Joe Smith – The 2006 third round pick was a valuable member of the Mets bullpen for two years before getting traded in the ill fated J.J. Putz trade. As luck would have it, Smith was the best reliever in that deal. In fact, Smith has had a very good career as a reliever with a good stretch in the postseason. In recent years, he’s tried to stay as close to his Ohio home as possible to be near his mother who is suffering from Huntington’s Disease. On that note, he has spent much time promoting awareness of this disorder through HelpCureHD.org.
Collin McHugh – The Mets never quite knew what they had with the 18th round pick of the 2008 draft trading him for Eric Young Jr. The same could go for the Rockies who designated him for assignment. McHugh rose above it all being one of the first pitchers to truly benefit from this Astros front office effect on pitchers. While he’s been a key part of the team’s recent run, he’s been sidelined this postseason with injuries.
Brent Strom – Strom was actually the third overall pick of the 1970 draft, but due to injuries, he would never quite make it either with the Mets, who eventually traded him to the Cleveland Indians, or as a Major Leaguer. After his Major League career, he’s found his footing as a coach, and during his tenure as the Astros pitching coach, he’s become one of the more noteworthy pitching coaches in the game.
Asdrubal Cabrera – The Mets signed Cabrera as a free agent, and his second half of the 2016 propelled them to the Wild Card Game. His play in that second half, along with that iconic bat flip, made him a fan favorite even through the issues regarding his trade demands. As much as fans loved him, Cabrera loved being a Met with his being traded and not re-signed breaking his son’s heart. Cabrera would have his chance to return, but with Brodie Van Wagenen not calling him back after the team signed Jed Lowrie over him, Cabrera opted to go to Washington instead.
Tim Bogar – Bogar spent four years as a Met as a utility player who was best known for his pre-game segments on Diamondvision. After his career was over, he had a decorated career as a minor league manager, and he’s been a respected coach leading to him being the National’s first base coach. With him being on the short list on the Mets managerial search, he may have a return to Queens after this World Series.
Chip Hale – Hale is a respected longtime coach who served as Terry Collins‘ third base coach in 2010 – 2011. In terms of team history, he goes down as one of the best third base coaches they have ever had.
Kevin Long – Long was the Mets hitting coach from 2015 – 2017. During that time, he was credited for players like Daniel Murphy and Yoenis Cespedes taking their offense to new heights, which was one of the reasons the Mets won the 2015 pennant. Partially due to his work as a hitting coach, he was a favorite to replace Collins as manager. When the Mets hired Mickey Callaway over him, he would leave for the Nationals organization where he has led young hitters like Juan Soto to the World Series.
Henry Blanco – Blanco had a reputation as a defensive catcher who spent one year with the Mets as a backup to Rod Barajas. After his playing career was over, he has followed a similar career path to Dave Duncan going from defensive catcher to pitching coach with Blanco having been the Nationals bullpen coach for the past two years.
In the end, no matter who wins, there will be a former Mets player who has a ring. As a fan of those players and coaches during their time with the Mets, we can take some sense of satisfaction when they get their ring. Of course, being happy for a particular player and being happy a certain team won are two completely different things.
When you look at particular days on the calendar, some have more meaning than others. There is your wedding anniversary and your children’s birthdays. Of course, there is Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July. For the Mets, they have October 17.
In 1969, this would be the day after Jerry Koosman‘s complete game in Game 5 of the World Series. This would be the first ever full day the Mets would be reigning World Series Champions.
As amazing as that was, thirty years later, the Mets would play in another epic Game 5. The Mets trailed the Braves 3-0 in the NLCS. There would be a Game 5 because John Olerud hit a two RBI single off John Rocker in the bottom of the eighth. The thrill of that victory was nothing compared to Game 5.
That Game 5 was an epic 15 inning game which was the longest postseason game in Major League history. You heart was in your throats for each and every inning. That was all the more the case when Melvin Mora threw out Keith Lockhart in the 13th. Lockhart would get the Mets back with an RBI triple in the 15th.
The Mets came back in a rally started with a simply great 12 pitch at-bat by Shawon Dunston. In a game with a series of unlikely events, Edgardo Alfonzo laid down a sacrifice bunt leading to the Braves loading the bases. Todd Pratt drew a game tying RBI walk before Robin Ventura hit the most famous single in baseball history:
This still stands as one of the greatest moments in Mets history, and it is one of the biggest moments in postseason history.
Sixteen years later, Matt Harvey would pitch in Game 1 of the NLCS against the Cubs. It was a game which featured it all.
Daniel Murphy continued his postseason heroics with a first inning homer off Jon Lester. Yoenis Cespedes would throw a runner out at the plate. Travis d’Arnaud would actually hit the Home Run Apple. Through it all, Harvey struck out nine through 7.2 innings before Jeurys Familia slammed the door shut.
Sure, there are some down moments on this date just like you have had a bad birthday or two. However, through it all, this date has had some magic to it. Certainly, that’s what it felt like in 1999 and 2015 – pure magic.
Maybe, just maybe, we will see this day have some magic in 2020 with Jacob deGrom pitching and a beloved Mets player like Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, or Jeff McNeil getting a huge hit. With this being the Mets, you never know.
The Washington Nationals suffered their fair share of heartbreak. In the 2012 NLDS, they had seemingly overcome Stephen Strasburg being shut down due to post Tommy John innings limit. They had a 7-5 lead heading into the ninth inning before Drew Storen imploded allowing four runs in the ninth.
In 2014, Bryce Harper would hit a seventh inning homer off Hunter Strickland tie the Game 4 of the NLDS at 2-2. After than Matt Thornton would allow consecutive hits before Aaron Barrett walked the bases loaded and threw a wild pitch leading to the Giants clinching the series.
The 2015 Nationals team would choke literally and figuratively. The team would blow a 4.5 game lead over the Mets in the division, and they would also see Jonathan Papelbon choke Harper in the dugout. This led to Matt Williams firing and his being replaced by Dusty Baker, who would lead the team to consecutive division titles, but like his predecessors no trips to the NLCS.
In Game 5 of the 2016 NLCS, Max Scherzer shut out the Los Angeles Dodgers for six innings. In the seventh, Joc Pederson homered off Scherzer tying the game at 1-1. From there, Marc Rzepczynski, Blake Treinen, Sammy Solis, and Shawn Kelley would allow the Dodgers to put up four runs to win that game. Amazingly, Daniel Murphy, who had big homers against the Dodgers in this and the previous year’s NLCS, would pop up against Clayton Kershaw with the tying run at second in the ninth.
The following year, it was Scherzer again. Heading into the top of the fifth, the Nationals had a 4-3 lead, and Scherzer came out of the bullpen. The Dodgers scored four runs off of him to take a 7-4 lead. The Nationals would play catch up for the rest of the game, but they couldn’t quite do it as their bullpen continued to implode in the 9-8 loss.
Through all of that, and the team having been 19-31 this year and Dave Martinez on the verge of getting fired, the Nationals won the pennant. They won it with them coming from behind in the Wild Card Game with a Juan Soto RBI single and an error leading to a three run eighth in a 4-3 victory.
In Game 5 of the NLDS against the Dodgers, Anthony Rendon and Soto hit back-to-back homers off Kershaw in the eighth to tie the score. Then, the bullpen which had been the bane of their postseason existence, held on as they won in 11 off a Howie Kendrick grand slam.
Now, they have swept the Cardinals in the NLCS to win the pennant. With that, they have exorcised every postseason demon, and they have earned this moment.
As it pertains to the Mets, there is a lesson here. This is what happens when you have ownership fully committed to winning and spends commensurate to market size and World Series window. This is what happens when you hire a very good General Manager and empower him. This is what happens when you allow players like Stephen Strasburg the necessary time to heal and recover.
In the end, the 2019 Nationals came and got the Mets and every National League team in their path this year. Whether that leads to a World Series or not is anyone’s guess. Even if it doesn’t, we know the Nationals will push on to try to get it instead of the half-measures we have seen from this Mets team since their 2015 pennant.
First and foremost, we all know the ideal 2019 World Series would involve the Mets beating whichever American League team won the pennant. As it stands, the 2019 World Series winner is not going to be an ideal situation for Mets fans. To that end, here’s a ranking on what Mets fans would probably like to see happen.
The Mets and Astros broke into the Majors together in 1962. Through that time, the only time these two franchises ever really clashed was the 1986 NLCS. In the NLCS, there were (proven) allegations Mike Scott was scuffing the ball. Fortunately, thanks to a miracle rally in Game 6 and Keith Hernandez threatening Jesse Orosco if he threw another fastball, the Mets prevailed in that series.
Really, if you want to be sour grapes about the Astros, you could pinpoint how an Astros World Series would cement their status as a better expansion franchise than the Mets. Still, when you see the other options, that is the least of Mets fans concerns.
The Washington Nationals franchise began in 1969 when they were the Montreal Expos. Before the time the Expos moved to Washington, the only real issue you’d have is the Expos taking out the Mets in 1998 ending their Wild Card dreams. Of course, with the Expos sending the Mets Gary Carter in 1985, you could overlook it.
Really, if you look deeper, there isn’t much to the Mets/Nationals rivalry. The two teams have only been good together in three seasons. In 2015, the Mets embarrassed a Nationals team who choked figuratively, and thanks to Jonathon Papelbon attacking Bryce Harper, they literally choked too.
In 2016, Daniel Murphy tipped the power balance between the two teams, but that still didn’t keep the Mets out of the postseason. After that season, the Nationals would remain a competitive team while the Mets fell by the wayside.
This year, the two teams were good again with some memorable games. The August 10th game was a real highlight for the Mets with Luis Guillorme‘s pinch hit homer followed by J.D. Davis‘ sacrifice fly to give the Mets an exciting victory. Of course, the less said the better about Paul Sewald, Luis Avilan, Edwin Diaz, Ryan Zimmerman, and Kurt Suzuki, the better.
New York Yankees
Putting aside Yankee fans crowing about all the rings won back in the days of the reserve clause and the game being integrated, there is enough history between these teams to despite the Yankees. There’s Derek Jeter being named the MVP of the 2000 World Series. As bad as the blown game against the Nationals was, Luis Castillo dropping Alex Rodriguez leading to Mark Teixeira scoring the winning run arguably felt all the worse.
Since Interleague Play started, this has been an intense rivalry with the Mets having a number of low moments. Aside from these, there was Mariano Rivera being walked to force in a run, Johan Santana having a career worst start, and everything Roger Clemens. Really, Clemens throwing a ball and bat at Mike Piazza with the Yankees who once accused Clemens of head hunting rushing to his defense is sufficient enough to hate them.
Of course, we then have Joe Torre, who has been the one who not only delivers the message but also defends Major League Baseball not allowing the Mets to wear the First Responders’ caps on 9/11.
St. Louis Cardinals
The so-called “Best Fans in Baseball” called the New York Mets teams of the 1980s pond scum. That’s how intense this rivalry was, and really, continues to be.
Going back to the 1980s, this was as intense a rivalry as there was in baseball. You can pinpoint to any number of plays and player like Terry Pendleton, John Tudor, and so much more. Even with realignment, this rivalry never truly subdued. The Mets got the better of the Cardinals with Timo Perez, Edgardo Alfonzo, and NLCS MVP Mike Hampton running roughshod over the Cardinals.
In 2006, Adam Wainwright freezing Carlos Beltran is forever crystalized into everyone’s minds. Beyond that was Scott Spiezio‘s game tying RBI triple off Guillermo Mota (why did he shake off Paul Lo Duca) and So Taguchi‘s homer off Billy Wagner. There was much more including Albert Pujols trash talking Tom Glavine (back when that was a bad thing).
Overall, the absolute worst case scenario is a Cardinals-Yankees World Series. Really, Yankees against anyone is the worst case scenario. Of course, that is the worst case for this World Series. The real worst case is seeing what Brodie Van Wagenen has in store as he tries to top trading away Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn to get Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz.
Here’s how bad the National League postseason has shaped up to be. The Washington Nationals, the team who delivered to the Mets a devastating loss when Kurt Suzuki homered off Edwin Diaz, could quite possibly be the lesser of all evils.
The St. Louis Cardinals are one of the Mets most fiercest and longest running rivals. There are stories of Terry Pendleton, John Tudor, and others from the 1980s. The rivalry pushed forward into this century with the postseason match-ups. The last one ended with Adam Wainwright‘s curveball striking out Carlos Beltran in what could be argued was the worst loss in Mets history.
Speaking of torment, there is the Atlanta Braves. Since the dawn of the Wild Card, no team has so tormented the Mets. We saw Brian Jordan and the Braves keep the Mets out of the 1998 postseason. Chipper Jones, who was all too happy to chide Mets fans, almost repeated the act in 1999. There’s nothing to say of John Rocker‘s behavior on and off the field that year. Throw in that NLCS ending with Kenny Rogers walking Andruw Jones, you have enough torment to last a lifetime.
That torment continued into this year with the Braves dominating the Mets all year. With that team having Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna Jr., and a young and still developing core, this promises to last deep into the future.
Then there are the Dodgers. Any team who willingly takes on and purposefully promotes Chase Utley deserves hatred just for that. But the history of those two teams goes deeper. There was the 1988 NLCS with Orel Hershiser and Kirk Gibson unofficially ending the Mets 1980s run.
Finally, there is the Nationals. This is a rivalry which only began in 2015 when the Mets and Nationals were good for the first time since the Expos franchise was founded in 1969. Whether it is Bryce Harper‘s hubris asking where his ring was when the team signed Max Scherzer, or it was Daniel Murphy tormenting them after he was the Mets 2015 postseason hero, fans seem to have developed a particular hatred of this team.
No matter how you slice or dice it, choosing a team to root for in the NLDS and eventually the NLCS is an exercise in rooting for the lesser of all evils. Who you think is the lesser of all evils likely depends on your age and your memories of a particular loss here or there.
Instead of looking at things from the perspective of lament, you should realize that three of the teams Mets fans absolutely despise will lose, and they will likely lose in excruciating fashion. That will be quite enjoyable to watch. It should also be enjoyable to watch whichever team win the pennant lose to the Rays, Twins, or Astros in the World Series.