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.
I’ve always joked that it’s the New York Giants that keep me sane. Never was this more true than on September 30, 2007. If you’re a Mets fan, you know that as the day the Mets completed a historic collapse. I was devastated even if Tom Glavine wasn’t.
I remember leaving Shea and heading to the Meadowlands as that year I had the Sunday Plan and Giants season tickets. Note, I was unmarried with no children back then. Initially, I was less than enthused going to the Giants game. The Giants started the year a very unimpressive 0-2. Furthermore, the Giants were playing the Eagles. I knew I was going to have to hear it from Eagles fans who the Phillies beat the Mets and how the Mets choked. I was stewing on my drive from Queens to Jersey. The rage just kept building and building.
As I entered the lot, I slipped off my David Wright jersey, which I never wore again, and I slipped on my Shaun O’Hara jersey. With some heckling from the lowlife Eagles fans, I was ready for the game. What ensued was the most cathartic three hours of my life. Not only did the Giants win, they pummeled the Eagles. Osi Umenyiora had six sacks. The Giants set an NFL single game sack record with 12 in total. It was a joy to see all those Eagles fans quiet and leaving early. It was a magical night that let me get some sleep that night.
Actually, it was a magical season. As we know, the Giants would win Super Bowl XLII that year. They upset the undefeated Patriots in what would go down as one of the greatest Super Bowls, if not the greatest Super Bowl, ever. It was made possible by Tom Coughlin.
Going into 2007, Coughlin was on the hot seat. In response, he became more open and accessible to his players. He formed the Leadership Council. Generally speaking, he found a way to be a coach that demands discipline while at the same time allowing his players to have a voice. You know what happened? Everyone was able to get on the same page. It allowed him just to be a great football coach, which he was. Coughlin was once seen as an impediment to winning a Super Bowl. He now was a reason why they could and did win one.
In 2007, things changed, and the Giants became champions. They won with the quarterback he developed. They won as a team. It’s because Coughlin changed. No, he didn’t change as a person. He was always a good person. Now, he showed that side to his team. They loved him for it. Looking at everything today, they still love him.
The fans do as well. He was the coach that developed Eli Manning. He was the coach that led the Giants to two Super Bowl wins. Both runs were improbable and thrilling. I loved both titles. However, I’ll always cherish Super Bowl XLII a little more. The Mets fan in me thought I was going to see a championship season in 2007. At that time, I just didn’t realize the season was going to carry into 2008. Trust me, it was worth the wait.
Through all these years, this Mets fan has kept sane because I was also a Giants fan, at least the Giants won championships. Tom Coughlin has a lot to do with that having earned three rings with the Giants. As a fan, I will always be grateful he coached my team. I’ll always be grateful he brought class and dignity to an organization renown for class and dignity. While I’m curious as to what’s next, I do admit some trepidation.
Your team is always worse when it loses a Hall of Famer. It’s even worse off when it loses a human being the caliber of Tom Coughlin. Whatever he does next, I wish him the best of luck.
Thank you for everything Tom Coughlin.
It’s finally happening tonight. I’m going to a Mets World Series game. In my house, I have three unused tickets from 2006, 2007, and 2008. Worst yet, I was at the games that were the reason why I couldn’t used the tickets.
Tonight, there won’t be any Adam Wainwright curveballs. There won’t be any implosion from Tom Glavine. Jerry Manuel isn’t here to summon Scott Schoeneweis from the bullpen. There is nothing standing in the way from the Mets from playing a World Series game tonight. Better yet, I’m going.
I’m going with my Dad and brother. We’ve been waiting our whole lives for this moment. We were crushed when we couldn’t go in 2006 – 2008. I know I’ve carried that pain for nearly a decade now. I’ve carried that pain through all the years of bad baseball. I wasn’t sure this day would ever come. But now it’s here.
On top of all of that I get Billy Joel singing the National Anthem. I get my favorite Met of All Time, Mike Piazza, throwing out the first pitch. I get to be there when the Mets turn this series around. This is better than I ever could’ve imagined. It makes sitting there watching the Mets lose in 2006, 2007, and 2008 all worth it.
To make it all the better, I will be there with my Dad, the man who made me a Mets fan. I’ll be there with my brother. The person I’ve sat next to during all the wins and all the losses. Tonight is the night we’ve been waiting for.
LETS GO METS!
My favorite Mets team was the 1999 team. I loved everything about that team from Bobby V to Mike Piazza to Edgardo Alfonzo to Robin Ventura to John Olerud. It was my first real taste of a pennant race and the playoffs. I was lucky to be there for Pratt’s All Folks and the Grand Slam Single. I look back on the year with melancoly because of this:
In 2000, the Mets got Mike Hampton. The season became World Series or bust. A strange feeling for a Mets fan. Hampton would deliver. He was the NLCS MVP. The Mets then had to face the Yankees in the World Series. It was a cruel series with Todd Zeile‘s ball landing on the wall and falling back into play. Timo Perez didn’t run and didn’t score. Roger Clemens threw a bat at Piazza and wasn’t ejected. The series then ended in the most heartbreaking way possible:
The Mets would be terrible for the next few years, but everything came together in 2006. Our homegrown stars, Jose Reyes and David Wright, we’re becoming superstars. They were joined by the two Carloses: Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado. It was a team that ran roughshod over the National League. Beltran was the best baseball player on the planet that year (who somehow didn’t win the MVP). The Mets had momentum in Game Seven with Endy Chavez’s catch. Here’s how that season ended:
In 2007, the Mets reloaded and were primed to go back to the World Series. They were up 7 with 17 to play. On the final game of the season, they sent future Hall of Famer Tom Glavine to the mound with his 300 wins. He wouldn’t be devastated when he got out of the first, but we would:
In 2008, the Mets diagnosed their problem, and much like 2000, they went out to get it. The Mets brought in Johan Santana, and he delivered. they needed him in a strange year that saw Wille Randolph fired after a win on the first game of a west coast trip. The interim manager threatened to cut Reyes if he didn’t come off the field after pulling up lame, and people acted like it was a good thing. Through all of that, the Mets were collapsing again, and yet an injured Santana took the ball on three days rest. He saved the season, but only for a day:
The last three were the most difficult for me because I was there. It got more difficult because Citi Field was initially a disappointment. It got worse because the product on the field was bad.
Then Matt Harvey came up and was an All Star. Jacob deGrom came from seemingly nowhere to become a Rookie of the Year and an All Star. They were joined by Noah Syndergaard. The Mets made a flurry of trades including one for Yoenis Cespedes. Daniel Murphy had an out of body experience. Then this happened:
All that pain. All that suffering. We know what it’s like to be Mets fans. There’s pain and suffering. However, there are moments of pure joy. It’s all the losing that makes nights like last night all the more special.
We’re Mets fans. We were there for all of this. There are older fans who experienced more pain, but also more joy. There are younger fans who only know losing. Now, we’re all Pennant Winners. It’s like the 80’s again when the Mets are the best team of baseball. We’re “Back in the New York groove!”
In 2006, every Mets fan thought the Mets going to the World Series was a foregone conclusion. Confidence was at an all time high after Tom Glavine shut out the Cardinals in Game One.
Then Game Two happened. The Mets terrific bullpen couldn’t protect a two run lead. It all started with a Guillermo Mota changeup to Scott Spiezio. I knew the Mora trade was rotten from the beginning. The Mets somewhat understandably didn’t re-sign Mike Piazza. Then the next year they bring in the guy who repeatedly beaned Piazza. Bad karma.
The game remained tied into the ninth when Billy Wagner allowed a go-ahead homerun to So Taguchi. SO TAGUCHI! I still can’t believe it to this day. Wagner allowed two more runs. I’m still in shock nine years later that the Mets lost that game 9-6. It was the pivotal moment in the Cardinals upset over the Mets. By the way, do you remember who got the save in that game? Adam Wainwright. Yup.
I was thinking about that game a lot last night. The Cubs had a much better lineup. The Mets bullpen is not as good as the 2006 version. However, one part of the Mets bullpen was better. The closer.
Wagner was a terrific closer during his major league career amassing 422 saves. He was great with the Mets in 2006 with 40 saves. However, he was a terrible closer in the postseason. He had a 10.03 ERA and a 1.971 WHIP.
The Mets now have Jeurys Familia. In six games, he’s pitched 7.2 innings. He has not allowed an earned run, walked one, and struck out four. He has a 0.391 WHIP. He’s a perfect 4/4 in save opportunities. He’s better than anyone could’ve imagined. He’s the difference between a Taguchi homerun and a 2-0 series lead.
The Mets are now the closest they’ve been to the World Series in 15 years. The better closer has brought them closer.