Mets Set To Do Impossible – Beat Braves
For the 10th time in New York Mets history, the team is going to the postseason. This is truly a remarkable achievement, and it is a credit to Steve Cohen for his ability to quickly turnaround this franchise after the Wilpon disaster. Mostly, it is a credit to each and every one of the players on the field.
For a franchise who has double the amount of 90+ loss seasons than postseason appearances, this is a historic time in Mets history. It was worthy of celebration, and thankfully, the players were able to appreciate what they accomplished.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 20, 2022
Unfortunately, the work is not done. Not by a long shot. At the moment, the Mets are still a game up in the division and tied in the loss column with the Atlanta Braves. That leaves this Mets team in a position where they have to do what no Mets team has done before – beat the Braves.
Yes, the Mets have actually beat the Braves en route to a World Series. Back in 1969, in the inaugural NLCS, the Amazin’s swept the NL West Champion Braves who featured future Hall of Famers in Hank Aaron, Orlando Cepeda, and Phil Niekro. However, since the Wild Card format, which put the Braves in the NL East, the Mets have never been able to overcome the Braves as an obstacle.
It really first began in 1998. We talk about the collapse of 2007, but this one might have been worse. All the Mets had to do was just win one of their final five games to force a one game playoff for the Wild Card. The Braves swept them the final series of the season despite not having anything to play for.
In 1999, the Braves appeared to leave the Mets in the dust taking two out of three putting the Mets behind the Cincinnati Reds heading into the final series of the season. The Braves truly thought they left the Mets in the dust with Chipper Jones boasting that the Mets fans could now go into their closets and get their New York Yankees gear.
The Mets survived, and they fought back from an insurmountable 3-0 series deficit. John Olerud had the RBI single in the eighth inning in Game Four. Robin Ventura had the Grand Slam Single ending Game Five. In Game Six, Mike Piazza hit the game tying homer off John Smoltz in the seventh capping a comeback from 7-0.
After Melvin Mora singled home Benny Agbayani in the eighth, it looked like there was going to be a Game Seven. However, John Franco blew it in the eighth. After Todd Pratt‘s sacrifice fly in the 10th, again, it looked like a Game Seven before Armando Benitez blew the save (this was before we knew Benitez couldn’t handle these spots). Finally, in the 11th, Kenny Rogers just blew it.
In 2000, the Mets could not beat the Braves for the division title. They did win the pennant, but the Braves had already been taken out by the St. Louis Cardinals.
In 2001, the Mets seemed poised to do the impossible. They were a team who was playing out the string, but they appeared galvanized fighting for their city after 9/11. The dreams of the Mets returning to the postseason were dashed when again Benitez and Franco couldn’t get the job done. A Mets 5-1 ninth inning lead went by the wayside as Brian Jordan hit a walk-off grand slam.
From there, the Mets and Braves were never good again at the same time. Yes, the Mets would end the Braves tyranny atop the division in 2006, but the Braves were a distant third that season.
It would not be until 2021 until the Mets and Braves would clash for the division again. The Mets had spent 103 days in first place. The Braves charged, and they tied the Mets atop the division on August 6. The following day, they took control of the division and never relinquished it as the Mets went in MLB infamy for being the team with the most days in first place to finish the season with a losing record.
This Mets team has squandered a 10.5 game lead and a 3.0 game lead to start the month. Yes, the Braves have been playing incredible baseball. That certainly explains the lead shrinking by 6.5 games entering September. However, if the Mets had only taken care of business at the beginning of this month, they would be on firmer footing.
Right now, none of that matters. What matters is that there is the division. The Mets have 13 games remaining to prove they are the best team in the division. So long as they don’t get swept in Atlanta, they will own the tiebreakers. Really, all the Mets have to do is win games.
Put another way, this Mets team has to do what no other Mets team has done. They have to beat the Braves. If this happens, they will have accomplished what no Mets team has ever done. They will prove this team is different. They will show this team has what it takes to win the World Series.