The truth is, the Mets’ run towards the playoffs and World Series was magical. It was full of moments that I’ll never forget, from Wilmer’s walk-off on that fateful Friday night to Murph’s homer off Zack Greinke in Game 5 of the NLDS. Everything came together at the perfect time to form what I genuinely thought was the “team of destiny.”
But that’s what will make this loss so hard to swallow. The fact is the Royals aren’t some unbeatable super team that matched up perfectly with the Mets. They were more than beatable. The Mets led in every single game of this series, including three leads in the eighth inning or later. They blew all but one.
There is no one specific person or unit to blame. For whatever reason, almost everything that could have gone wrong did. Throughout the series, the offense was as potent as it was in June with John Mayberry Jr. hitting cleanup. It felt like Daniel Murphy was playing every position on defense. Terry Collins‘ job essentially devolved into “how can I avoid using almost my entire bullpen?” That’s not a formula for winning a series, let alone one against an offense that will make you pay for every mistake.
It’s a shame. The brand of baseball the Mets played to get themselves to the World Series was seen only briefly over the last week, through Matt Harvey‘s eight scoreless innings last night. In what was going to be his final outing of the season, Harvey gave the Mets everything he had. He lives for these moments. He gained every ounce of respect back from me last night. He had to be fatigued after being pushed well past the brink, but he didn’t show it one bit. I don’t care how much money or how many years it takes to get him to stay: He needs to be a Met for a long, long time.
Harvey’s outing really embodied what the 2015 Mets were as a team, and not just in the sense that he provided great starting pitching. Even when the Mets were floundering, with their offense looking absolutely pathetic, they were still able to grind out wins. When the offense couldn’t score, the starters stepped up their game. Somehow, despite all the injuries and disappointing performances from Mets hitters early on, they were able to hold on in the NL East race.
This held true even after the Mets acquired Yoenis Cespedes, Kelly Johnson, and Juan Uribe. While they certainly got lucky by finding the hottest hitter on the planet for just one top 100 prospect, the Mets continued to play with heart and passion.
Sandy Alderson will have a lot of work to do this offseason. Daniel Murphy is gone. Yoenis Cespedes is probably gone as well. Juan Lagares clearly needs Tommy John surgery. The bullpen needs to be completely rebuilt. And all of this needs to be done under whatever payroll cap the cheapskate Wilpons set.
That being said, the foundation for a winning team is there. The Mets still have one of the most incredible collections of young pitchers baseball has ever seen, and that’s only going to get better next year with the addition of Zack Wheeler. Michael Conforto looks like he is not only a major league regular, but a budding All-Star. David Wright, while maybe not the David Wright of old, is not going away any time soon. This team should be good for a long, long time. It’s just a matter of plugging in the correct complimentary players.
But the 2015 Mets should not simply be a team with great young pitching, or one that made smart deadline transactions. This year’s team was much more than that.
This year’s team awoke a fan base which had been dormant and frustrated for almost a decade. It united a city behind the Mets for the first time in 30 years. They had charisma. They had a captain who had given his blood, sweat, and tears for this franchise. They had great starting pitchers who didn’t care who they were facing or how many innings they were up to.
I’ve never had as much fun as I’ve had rooting for the 2015 New York Mets. They had every reason to quit. Badly timed injuries, suspensions, or heartbreaking losses could have been used as excuses to just give up. But they didn’t. They loved each other and their fans too much to just roll over. I am so proud to be a Mets fan and to see what 2016 brings.