A friend of mine told me that I should brag more than I do. Well, yeah. He’s right, because I’m wonderful. But specifically because I said back on August 21st that there was one shot to get to the playoffs, and that was to go 26-13 with Yoenis Cespedes back from injury, because 87 wins was going to be good enough for the playoffs. On Saturday, the Mets won their 26th game since that Saturday win against the Giants to give them their 87th win of the season … and clinch not only a wild card berth, but the right to host the game.
Let’s go back to what I wrote:
The bottom line is that Cespedes is back, Neil Walker is back, and maybe the real Jay Bruce will come back with those two flanking him. (…) So now that the lineup is back together, the Mets, incredibly, still have a glimmer of hope. And they’ll have one more shot to get this done. At 61-62, they’ll probably have to go 26-13 to have a shot at that wild card game. With a healthy everybody in that lineup, the next thing that has to happen is that starting staff to return to being factors. That means Syndergaard can’t keep throwing 100 pitches in five and a third innings. Jacob deGrom has to shake off Thursday night’s start. Steven Matz has to be healthy. Seth Lugo has to keep it going because I love his curve ball and think he can grab this fifth spot the rest of the year. We can’t keep depending on Grandpa to bail them out like he did today. If all of that happens, 26-13 certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
Seems amazing, right? But now let’s juxtapose what I wrote with what actually happened:
The bottom line is that Cespedes is back, Neil Walker is back (yeah, hope you enjoyed him for a week), and maybe the real Jay Bruce will come back with those two flanking him. (The real Jay Bruce obviously has a problem with punctuality.) (…) So now that the lineup is back together (that reunion lasted as long as every Van Halen reunion, ever), the Mets, incredibly, still have a glimmer of hope. And they’ll have one more shot to get this done. At 61-62, they’ll probably have to go 26-13 to have a shot at that wild card game. With a healthy everybody in that lineup (“everybody” being a relative term), the next thing that has to happen is that starting staff to return to being factors. That means Syndergaard can’t keep throwing 100 pitches in five and a third innings. (Nailed that one.) Jacob deGrom has to shake off Thursday night’s start. (Unfortunately he shook it off so hard his ulnar nerve came loose.) Steven Matz has to be healthy. (BAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! You do know that Ray Ramirez is his trainer, right?) Seth Lugo has to keep it going because I love his curve ball and think he can grab this fifth spot the rest of the year. (Fifth, try third!) We can’t keep depending on Grandpa to bail them out like he did today. (Oh, the guy who went 4-1 and stopped multiple losing streaks? Yeah, don’t depend on that guy, stupid.) If all of that happens, 26-13 certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
So let’s be honest. For me to brag about picking a number out of the air and get it right when I had originally penciled the team in for 93 wins seems a little ridiculous. I mean … good for me, I know math. Whoop de damn do. But this team executed the plan, and half the reasons they could do it that I laid out never happened. And they still did it. So I’ll tell you who has every right to brag:
Bartolo Colon: Guy is 43 years old with a gut and every time they needed to stop a losing streak he was there. If not for him, that spring training picture with the arms of doom would be full of red X’s over their heads like the one Ray Ramirez has in his locker.
T.J. Rivera: The Mets could have really been sunk after Walker decided he needed back surgery (which is a decision I had to make as well.) Rivera’s production and adequate defense has saved them from overexposing Kelly Johnson, and from the disappointment they would have felt when Wilmer Flores went down with his own injury.
Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman: I hate to say this, but … no wait, I don’t hate saying this. But you know what the best thing to happen to this team may have been? Jon Niese getting hurt. I know Niese might not want to hear this, but do you really think Niese would have put up the same numbers Gsellman did after he replaced him in St. Louis that night? Not a chance. Gsellman and Lugo flat out saved this ballclub from the abyss.
Wally Backman and Frank Viola: For preparing these guys for New York. I’m not sure Backman feels more pride or vindication, but he plays a part in this. And whatever Sweet Music wants out of his next contract, just give it to him.
Asdrubal Cabrera: Here’s how great Cabrera has been since coming back from injury: He had an 0-for-32 slump with runners in scoring position. And currently, his overall average in those situations is .255. So without that slump, his average with RISP is .378. Those kind of stats even themselves out over time, even with those extremes. And that home run he hit against Philadelphia will go down in lore forever.
Curtis Granderson: For the second year in a row, I wondered aloud why we have to sacrifice his lackluster statistics for leadership and character. And for the second year in a row, he comes up with this hot streak which says “that’s why, stupid.” This year, he came up with it later to scare me to death, but he did it. Since the Sunday game against Washington at home: .308, 8 HR’s, 19 RBIs, and an OPS of 1.100. I’ll go on record now: We should keep Granderson for one more year.
Yoenis Cespedes: Obvious reasons.
Terry Collins: I know, I know. Controversy. His in-game management drives me crazy. He’s not the manager of the all-time Mets team (which has been discussed in small circles, believe it or not). But there has to be something about him that has held this team together when most teams would have imploded or pointed fingers in the New York tabloids in the last six seasons, let alone the last six weeks. I’m not even sure I can put my finger on it, and it will spawn a larger discussion, I’m sure. But by comparison, Snoop Manuel had injuries and was a complete horror show. Collins took the challenge on, predicted it would happen, and followed through. To have the reputation that Terry Collins had when he took this job and to still be around to reap the rewards is incredible. In short, is it more amazing for a manager to be great, or to overcome his own shortcomings to help his team be great?
They’re not the only ones who contributed. Jose Reyes has been great since his injury too. Kelly Johnson got some clutch hits. James Loney sealed today’s win and celebrated in a way that would have caused a previous version of the Phillies to become ornery for the newspapers. Jay Bruce’s hot week. Eric Campbell’s pinch hit base hit which probably spurred on Bruce’s hot week out of embarrassment. Fernando Salas solidifying the seventh inning. Addison Reed. Jeurys Familia. Syndergaard. All of them. I just laid out the plan while I was thinking and writing out loud. They executed it. They did it. And they deserve all bragging rights. They went from 61-62 to 87-74 and a Wild Card game at Citi Field on Wednesday night. Twenty-six out of 38. The 87th win gave us what ’87 should have been … and would have been without Terry Pendleton.
But that’s in the past. The present is satisfying. And the future contains one very big game against an opponent to be determined.
Today’s Hate List
You know, last year I didn’t hate anything when the Mets clinched the division. But this season I gotta bring up one small gripe: FOX’s virtual ad behind the plate made Jeurys Familia look like he was CGI’d in one of those effect videos where he was pitching against guys from the 1950’s or something.[mlbvideo id=”1198807783″ width=”400″ height=”224″ /]
Seminal moment in Mets history, and Jeurys Familia looks like a Tupac hologram. Thanks FOX.