This wasn’t supposed to happen for the 2015 New York Mets: A National League Championship and first World Series appearance since 2000 when the mighty crosstown Yankees ruled the town, But as they say, patience does have a virtue.
The Mets and their fans can believe once again.
Believe, though is no more. The odds were against them back In February when they assembled down in Port St. Lucie Florida for the rigors of spring training. And the odds were against the New York Mets in late July with putrid offensive numbers as a team and two games over .500, three games behind the Washington Nationals in the NL East.
Then something happened. There was that overall consensus that the Nationals were vulnerable, and GM Sandy Alderson went to work because here were the arms of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz. A first round draft pick of 2014, Michael Conforto, made his presence known and a trading deadline of moves filled in the pieces.
So the complexion of a team in contention did change. The transactions to fill in the pieces and the continued strong pitching from those young arms, the emergence of a dominant closer in Jeurys Familia, and the return of David Wright made the patience worth the wait.
And there was the emergence of Daniel Murphy, who deserves the honor of being the new “Mr. October” of baseball after his record setting sixth straight postseason home run and MVP recognition of helping the Mets to their fifth National League pennant. Lucas Duda hit the long ball at the right time, Curtis Granderson was no fluke at the plate, and Michael Cuddyer became the backup outfielder and a good fit in the clubhouse.
And because Juan Lagares, the outfielder and part of that rebuilding was not at his potential, the pieces that come with patience were put together.
Yes, it is a proud time to be a fan of the New York Mets and the patience definitely was worth the wait. Gone are the bad memories of that Carlos Beltran strike three that ended the 2006 NLCS at Shea Stadium, two horrible late season collapses, and of course the call for ownership to sell and the horror of a Bernie Madoff Ponzy scam.
Go back to March, and then April when the Mets got off to a good start and made believers of their fans with an 11-game winning streak. There was that futility of a long season but all along the Mets knew they had the nucleus of young pitching that could get them to where they are today.
Scouts said, time and time again, the Mets have the pitching that will get them deep into October. It started in April with Harvey and deGrom, deep into games and a few runs to get a win. Then Syndergaard emerged, along with the veteran Bartolo Colon. It was not supposed to happen this year but the manager, Terry Collins always believed in his guys.
“Watch out,” Collins would always say. He was referring to a lineup that had potential to score runs and put his team in position to bypass the Nationals ,and be potent enough to take down the mighty arms of the Dodgers with Clayton Kershaw and Zach Greinke in the divisional series. That lineup the manager said to watch disposed the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester in the four-game NLCS sweep.
So beating some of the elite pitchers vying for a Cy Young Award was no fluke.
Through it all, because of the management of a suspect bullpen, there was always a call from fans to fire the manager. There was a call before the trading deadline for Alderson to be relieved of his GM role, but he went to work and filled in the pieces bringing in veterans Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe and Tyler Clippard.
And there was the emergence of Michael Conforto, and the acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes who went on a memorable two month tear.
“You win with starting pitching,” said Wright who was patient and was convinced that it was a matter of time when he signed his extension to stay in New York in 2012. He had faith in the ownership, the GM, and in Terry Collins.
Johnny Monell signed a free agent contract in the off season to be a backup catcher. The backup catcher had a taste of what could be something special when he met his teammates down in Florida back in February. Three times he shuttled back and forth from Triple -A Las Vegas to fill the void of Travis d’Arnaud and his stints on the disabled list, and Collins was looking for a left handed bat off the bench.
On the last day of the season, in the rear of the Mets clubhouse, the kid from the Bronx said, “Remember what I told you back in March, these guys can throw the ball and that will take this team far in the payoffs.”
Attribute much of that success to Alderson. He worked with ownership, around a payroll that will see a drastic change with a win or loss in the World Series, and no matter what the end result this certainly was a dramatic change for the better. It was patience and all along David Wright knew it was a matter of time.
“We knew we had a good team,” Wright said after finally reaching the pinnacle of playing in a World Series. “I hate playing that underdog role. People kind of giggled at us when we proclaimed we were going to be a playoff team. We knew we had a good team in spring training and backed it up.”
So it was a matter of time, and again Alderson reiterated that patience would be the key. Good teams do emerge with patience and building within, and the leadership of Collins has also been a significant factor.
He said, “This might be the finest group of guys, I’ve ever been around.” You saw the pain etched in his face during the struggles the last five years, and had his sense of humor in those post game press conferences with the media after another ugly loss. We may never know what was said behind closed doors, except what was heard from the players that have always come to admire the leadership Collins has delivered.
“A player’s type of manager who always has your back,” said Ruben Tejada more than once this season.” Before going down with a season ending injury in game 2 of the NLDS against the Dodgers, he was one of those players that Collins always had in his corner.
There was more, and the script of this miracle type of season for the New York Mets is not over. Four more wins is their goal, one that the baseball world said would not happen as soon as it did and that old baseball term of good pitching will stop good hitting has been a part of this patience and great run that continues Tuesday.
So is building from within the organization and filling in the pieces. Yes, patience does have a virtue.
Comment Rich Mancuso: [email protected] Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso Twitter@Ring786