Noah Syndergaard taking the mound against Alcides Escobar to begin the first World Series game at Citi Field (photo: PJ Clark)

The New York Mets’ 2016 schedule is loaded with great matchups and promotions.  With the team shaping up to be as good, if not better, than last year’s, Met fans should make every effort to get to Flushing as much as possible.

The Mets have a schedule packed with high-end teams and major events such as the 1986 World Championship celebration and Mike Piazza‘s long-awaited number retirement ceremony.  Here are my picks for the ten games every Met fan should attend in 2016.  These are in chronological order, not in order of importance.

April 8, 2016 – Philadelphia Phillies: This one shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.  The home opener every year is an important one, but this one ranks higher than most.  This is the first home game since the heartbreaking Game 5 of the World Series, and fans should be out in full force.  Not only will this be the first time for fans to see the 2015 National League Championship banner flying high over Citi Field, but attendees will also have the first chance to give Yoenis Cespedes the ovation he deserves when he takes the field once again as a New York Met.

April 30, 2016 – San Francisco Giants: This is the final game of the first major (full) series of the year.  The San Francisco Giants have been one of the MLB’s best teams in the last decade, winning World Series titles in 2010, 2012, and 2014.  Since their last title, some of the names and faces have changed, but the core of Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, and Hunter Pence remain.  Add Johnny Cueto and emerging stars Brandon Crawford and Matt Duffy to the list, and you have a team that can contend yet again in 2016.  Not to mention, April 30th marks the long-awaited “Noah Syndergaard-en Gnome” giveaway.

Billy Joel performs the National Anthem before Game 3 of the 2015 World Series at Citi Field (photo: PJ Clark)

Billy Joel performs the National Anthem before Game 3 of the 2015 World Series at Citi Field (photo: PJ Clark)

May 28, 2016 – Los Angeles Dodgers: Any Dodgers game in any city is worth going to on the 20 percent chance that Clayton Kershaw will be taking the mound that night.  However, this game is a “must attend” because of the pre-game 1986 World Series Championship celebration.  2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the Mets’ last championship team. This weekend series against the Dodgers aims to please both long time fans around in ’86 and hopeful fans looking for their own championship squad while they take on a 2015 playoff foe.

June 21, 2016 – Kansas City Royals: I’ll be the first to admit I’m still not over the way 2015 ended, and I’m not sure I ever will be.  This is the first time the Royals will be at Citi Field since celebrating in the visitors’ clubhouse last October.  This Tuesday night game is the first of two at Citi Field, and the pair will conclude the four-game season series. Kansas City doesn’t make the trip out to Flushing often, so this June may be the last chance fans have to see our new rivals in person for many years, unless the Royals battle back to New York in October.

July 3, 2016 – Chicago Cubs: What better way to spend a holiday weekend than at the ballpark watching two of Major League Baseball’s best teams?  The Mets and Cubs are two of the youngest teams in baseball, and a budding rivalry has begun after the Mets’ sweep of the 2015 NLCS.  However, this particular game has a little extra incentive: the Yoenis Cespedes Arm Sleeve giveaway.  Who doesn’t want a green sleeve to wear in the stands while watching La Potencia himself?

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July 30, 2016 – Colorado Rockies: This game was a no-brainer and the game that inspired me to make this list.  Any usual weekend series against the Rockies wouldn’t make this list, but this is special.  This is my number one game of 2016.  July 30th marks the date that so many have been waiting for: Mike Piazza will have his number 31 retired at Citi Field.  Obviously, this honor is long overdue, but it is nice that it will occur the week after Piazza becomes the second New York Met in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  Fans young and old will appreciate this ceremony, and if you can make it to Flushing during this weekend, I highly suggest you do so.

August 1, 2016 – New York Yankees: Two days after Mike Piazza Day comes the Subway Series.  With both New York teams expected to contend this year, this series should be intense than usual.  This game starts the four game, two stadium set of games that will begin August baseball.  Anyone who thinks that New York City isn’t a Mets town after last year will hopefully be singing a different tune after these four games.

September 2, 2016 – Washington Nationals: This could turn out to be a game of major proportions, hence its inclusion on the list.  This Friday night matchup begins the final series between the Mets and Nationals at Citi Field.  This series could have a huge impact on playoff pushes for both teams, and a sweep in either direction could all but end one team’s playoff hopes.  Any time the Nationals come to Flushing is important, but this one ranks ahead of them all.

The view from Section 136 of Citi Field at Game 3 of the 2015 World Series (photo: PJ Clark)

The view from Section 136 of Citi Field at Game 3 of the 2015 World Series (photo: PJ Clark)

September 17, 2016 – Minnesota Twins: I know this one seems a bit odd, but hear me out.  The Twins play in the American League, which means they don’t come to Citi Field often.  The Twins also have two of the best young players in baseball, Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano.  This September could be Mets’ fans first and only chance to see these two young studs for many years.  Add that to the Jacob deGrom “Hair-Hat” giveaway and you’ve got a pretty solid game for fans of all ages to attend.

September 25, 2016 – Philadelphia Phillies:  Every fan should attend a game during the final home series if they can.  Between the fan-appreciation days, sales on memorabilia, and possible autographs and giveaways from players, the last weekend is always a ton of fun.  Not to mention, fans attending the final game have the chance to give our boys one last regular season ovation as they hopefully journey into the playoffs yet again in 2016.

There you have it, my ten must-attend games for the 2016 season.  Hope you enjoyed, and drop a comment below if you think I left off a good one.

Let’s Go Mets!