(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)
Unfinished business. That is the unofficial mantra for the 2016 New York Mets and it’s resonating with players, coaches, fans and the media. Last season the Amazin’s improbable run to the World Series ended in bitter disappointment; eerily similar to the last 29 seasons of Mets baseball.
Fortunately for Mets fans, the winds of change are swirling around Flushing Meadows and infusing the fan-base with energy and optimism. Everything changed last July when the Mets transformed from mere pretenders to true contenders almost overnight. The acquisition of veterans Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson started changing the perception of the team and provided a boost to the morale in the clubhouse, but when Yoenis Cespedes came to town prior to the MLB trade deadline, it set Queens on fire.
Fans came out in droves to Citi Field as Cespedes’ Mets debut was met with more fanfare and anticipation than if the Pope himself showed up in New York. Cespedes added legitimacy to a Mets lineup that was littered with minor league performers before his arrival.
The Amazin’s cruised to their first N.L. East crown since 2006 and took care of the Los Angeles Dodgers in four games in the NLDS and completed a clean four-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS.
All the momentum was on their side as they faced the defending A.L Champion Royals to compete for baseball’s ultimate prize. Kansas City, which came within an eyelash of upsetting the San Francisco Giants in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series, showed the grit and determination of a true champion as they ousted the Mets in five games. Shoddy fielding, poor base-running and a shaky bullpen all culminated in the Mets demise a season ago as the Royals exploited every weakness en-route to the title.
Now, with a year of postseason experience under their belts, adding defensive reinforcements in the middle infielder including the acquisition of Neil Walker from the Pittsburgh Pirates and signing Asdrubal Cabrera, the Mets are back with a vengeance. The popular pick to win the National League this season is the Cubs as they added Jason Heyward and Jon Lester to complete their free agent spending spree.
The Amazin’s will have the bulls-eye on their backs this year, but the fact that virtually none of the pundits are picking them to return to the Fall Classic will provide added motivation for the team to prove the naysayers wrong. If the Mets keep their starting staff of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz healthy and rested this upcoming season, there’s no rotation in all of baseball with that type of firepower.
Zack Wheeler is expected to return to the mound this summer, which will provide yet another electric arm to an already stellar carousel of pitchers.
Sandy Alderson already plans to implement a six-man rotation at some point this season to keep his young hurlers fresh for another postseason push. New York watched Kansas City lose a heartbreaking final series to San Francisco two years ago, only to come back the very next year and finish the job.
Expect the Mets to take a similar path.
The Mets will not only reach the World Series for the second time in as many seasons, but this time they’ll win it.
Exactly 30 years since the Amazin’s celebrated their last title, this year’s version will finally get over the hump. New York will conjure up some October magic to deliver what Mets fans have been dreaming of for 30 years, the franchise’s third World Championship Trophy.