Six years ago to the day, I woke up with a bundle of nerves. The Mets were under .500, and they were sending Jon Niese to the mound against the Braves. Niese has never instilled any Mets fan with confidence.
Initially, I had high hopes for this team. After 2009, they were more comfortable in Citi Field and knew how to play there. Jose Reyes and David Wright were in their prime. Carlos Beltran had a full offseason to rest up, get healthy, and return to his dominant form. I thought Ike Davis would get a call-up and be a legitimate middle of the order power threat. I thought Jason Bay would succeed with the Mets after playing so well for the Red Sox. The team had an ace in Johan Santana and an emerging pitcher in Mike Pelfrey. K-Rod was the closer, and promising young rookie Jenrry Mejia was going to be his set-up man. There was a lot to like.
Those feelings of optimism faded away early in the season. They lost seven of their first 10 games. Jerry Manuel was the manager, and he was managing like it. The team was barely able to score runs against the Cardinals’ position players in a 20 inning game. The Mets were under .500. Worse yet, they had to face Larry Jones – err, Chipper – and the Braves. The Mets countered with the enigmatic Niese against a player and team that killed the Mets. It’s enough to make any Mets’ fans stomach turn.
By the way, it was also my wedding day.
Yes, my wedding day. That one I knew I got right. I was marrying the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met (still is), and she had no clue she was way too good for me (still is). Honestly, I was not nervous at all about marrying her. I was only nervous about the logistics of the day. I was nervous about missing the Mets game. Priorities.
I made sure I was ready well in advance so I could watch the game from first pitch. I caught the first couple of innings at home before getting in the limousine and heading to the Church. As we got to the Church, it was still 0-0. Now, as a superstitious sort, I knew I couldn’t hang around in the limo listening to the game because I couldn’t risk seeing my then fiancée in her dress before she entered the Church. Accordingly, I tipped the driver a couple of bucks to funnel me score updates until the game was over.
Last thing I knew as a single man, the Mets were losing 1-0 to the Braves. Sounds about right. After seeing my wife head up the aisle, I forgot all about the Mets. I was excited to marry the best person I’ve ever known.
Once the mass was over, we had the proceeding line. All my wife could do was laugh when the limo driver came over to give me the score. The Mets won 3-1. She knew what she was getting into marrying me. I put the Mets out of mind, did our wedding photos, and then had the greatest wedding reception ever.
By the way, my wife nixed the idea of having Mr. Met serve as the maitre d’. It wasn’t my idea (although I fully supported it). Some of the ushers started a collection, but it quickly died down when my wife caught wind of it. Speaking of the ushers, I did win the pool because I didn’t cry during the mass. First round of drinks in Hawaii were on them.
After my wife and I got married, the Mets went on a winning streak and took over first place. I had no idea because I was on my honeymoon (although we did fly Jet Blue so I could watch the Mets and Braves play the Sunday Night Game).
During my honeymoon, I paid no attention to the Mets. Spending time with her then (as it is now) will always be more important. I just enjoyed each and every moment of being married to my beautiful wife. I still do. Marrying my wife was the best decision I ever made.
Happy Anniversary honey.
Today, the Mets officially report to Spring Training. With the 2016 season unofficially starting, David Wright begins his most important year as Captain of the New York Mets.
Back in 2007, Wright was a 24 year old superstar. His team was coming off a shocking loss in the NLCS, and yet going into 2007, many believed the Mets were the best team in the National League, if not all of baseball. With Wright and Jose Reyes, the Mets were seen not only as a win-now team, but also as a team that was built for the long haul. It worked out that way for exactly 145 games.
Not that Tom Glavine finds it devastating or anything, but the Mets collapsed over the final 17 games. There are a number of things we can point to as the reason the Mets collapses. Over those final 17 games, Brian Lawrence, a 23 year old Mike Pelfrey, and Philip Humber received starts with the Mets going 1-3 in those games. You can point to players like Reyes not hitting down the stretch. Speaking of Reyes, many point to him dancing in Game 161 as the reason.
After the Mets were swept by the Phillies, they had 14 games remaining against sub .500 teams. These teams had a combined .457 winning percentage. This includes a Cardinals team that had to come to New York to play a make-up game. They shut the Mets out. After the Phillies swept the Mets, there was every reason to believe the Mets would win the division, or at the absolute worst, the Wild Card. They did neither. There really is no excuse for what happened.
We saw it again in 2008. The Mets had a lead in the division up until the 149th game of the season. The Mets then lost the division lead. Again, the Mets season was on the line on the final game of the season. Again, they lost at home to a bad Marlins team.
Sure you can point to a myriad of things in 2008. Billy Wagner was injured leading to a revolving door at closer. Again, it’s excuses. The Mets had a different manager and pitching coach at the end of the season. Willie Randolph and Rick Peterson were the fall guys for 2007 in getting fired one game into a West Coast trip.
At the end of the day, it wasn’t the manager or the coaches. It was the team. There just was something missing. One player that wasn’t a problem? David Wright.
In 2007, Wright hit .352/.432/.602 with six homers and 20 RBI over the final month of the season. In 2008, Wright hit .340/.416/.577 with six homers and 21 RBI in the final month of the season. While Shea was burning, Wright was playing his best baseball. While there was a problem with those 2007-2008 teams, Wright wasn’t one of them.
Now, Wright is the only player that remains from those teams.
Wright is now 33 years old. He’s a leader on the team. He’s the Captain. Once again, he’s on a Mets team that has a chance to return to the postseason. He’s once again playing for a team that is a legitimate World Series contender.
This may be Wright’s most important season as the Captain. He can share with the team all the things that went wrong in 2007 and 2008 to help prevent any of these issues arising with this Mets team. If problems do arise, he can help guide the team. He can share with them whatever it was within him in 2007 and 2008 to play his best when the team seemed to be at their worst.
In 1986, the Mets had a de facto team captain in Keith Hernandez that showed the team how to win. Thirty years later, the Mets have a Captain that can show the team how not to lose.
Hopefully, with another Mets captain leading the way, the Mets will once again win the World Series.