As the 2016 Major League Baseball season is nearing its inception, the Mets have emerged as among the best teams in baseball. Just last spring training, most Mets fans hoped for a winning season and accepted the fact that the team had a putrid offense.
However, the Mets somehow ended up winning the National League Pennant and got a taste of the World Series.
This bears a question: When exactly did the Mets turn from pretender to contender?
The answer to this question lies in perhaps the craziest 8 days in the history of Mets baseball. From Thursday, July 23rd, to Friday, July 31st, every night was a headline.
In these 8 days there were multiple highs and lows.
Thursday, July 23rd
The Mets horrific offense had reached absolute futility.
Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers strutted into New York with the mentality to make the Mets look like minor league hitters. The team that already got no-hit by the Giants’ Chris Heston was also perhaps Clayton Kershaw’s best bet for a perfect game.
Kershaw ultimately flirted with a perfect game for 7 innings. He pitched a complete game shutout racking 11 strikeouts conceding only 3 hits. The Mets offense was borderline unwatchable.
Friday, July 24th
After Kershaw’s thorough dismantling of the Mets, the front office promoted Michael Conforto. The Conforto promotion was controversial because the young outfielder had not played a game in triple A in his brief minor league career.
Despite Conforto logging his first MLB hit, the Mets lost once again to the Dodgers fueled by an inept offense.
Sandy Alderson made another move to attempt to help the Mets offense later Friday night. He sent minor league pitchers, John Gant and Rob Whalen, for Atlanta Braves veterans, Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson.
Finally the Mets had some bats that belonged in the big leagues.
Saturday, July 25th
The Mets featured a completely overhauled lineup featuring Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson, and Michael Conforto. These changes proved to be effective as the Mets routed the Dodgers 15-2. Suddenly an offense that could hardly bear 3 runs put up 15 against a legitimate team.
Sunday, July 26th
The Mets managed an emotional win over the Dodgers with a 10th inning walk-off hit by Juan Uribe. The newly renovated Mets salvaged a split in the four game series against the Dodgers.
Mets fans finally had a reason to believe their team could be a legitimate contender.
Monday, July 27th
This was an off-day where Mets fans were finally on an emotional high. Alderson continued to feed good news to Mets fans by helping another struggling element of the team-the bullpen. This entire season, the formula was dominant starting pitching to elite closer, Jeurys Familia.
Worst case scenario, Clippard becomes a peculiar righty who is a lefty specialist. Best case scenario, Clippard becomes a legitimate setup man.
The Mets continued to grow more formidable.
Tuesday, July 28th
The Mets continue to build momentum and ride the emotional high as Noah Syndergaard has his best game in a Mets uniform. Syndergaard held the Padres scoreless through 8 racking up 9 strikeouts. New Met, Tyler Clippard, finishes the shutout and the Mets ride to a 4-0 victory.
Wednesday, July 29th
This is the day that will forever live in Mets infamy.
Although the Mets have made numerous improvements, they lacked a superstar bat.
During a dreary Wednesday night game with the Mets sorely losing 6-0 by the end of the third inning, news broke on twitter that the Mets have acquired Brewers All-Star center fielder, Carlos Gomez. Gomez was an ex-met and emerged as a legitimate 5 tool player in Milwaukee. Fans rejoiced as Alderson seemed to provide the Mets the superstar bat they sorely needed.
Zack Wheeler was a hard pill for any Mets fan to swallow. He is not a minor league prospect. Wheeler was seen as the sequel to Matt Harvey and won the hearts of Mets fans in 2014. However, he was on recovery from Tommy John surgery so he would not hurt the current club. The departure of Zack Wheeler made Mets fans a little uneasy.
However, the supposed departure of Wilmer Flores is the story that made national headlines. Wilmer Flores, only 23 years of age, was to be traded from the organization he signed with out of Venezuela at the age of 17. Flores was currently playing in the Wednesday night game at shortstop. As fans let him know he was traded, Flores became extremely emotional.
The infamous pictures of Flores crying in the Mets infield will live forever in sports history. Here is a unique situation where you see a young man losing his job on national television and the emotions he went through. As a Mets fan myself, words cannot describe the feeling I had watching that game. It was a mixture of sadness and anger.
Why couldn’t I just rejoice in the fact of acquiring Carlos Gomez? Why must the Mets put such a vulnerable young man in such a difficult position? Honestly, it was one of the most emotional moments in my life.
Eventually the Mets pulled Flores and lost the game. I am certain what transpired after the game made every Mets fan furious.
After the game, Alderson was talking to the media and saying that there was no trade. The trade had been cancelled because of something seen in medical records.
Now as a Mets fan I am upset for a variety of reasons: the Mets lost, I watched a grown man cry on national television for no reason, and the Mets still need a big bat to threaten the Nationals.
The Mets had just been riding such an emotional high and it all came crashing down in a few hours.
Thursday, July 30th
Every national news station played the clip of Wilmer Flores crying on the field that morning. A constant embarrassment to Mets fans.
Despite all of the negative national attention, the Mets managed to have a good start to the game. By the 7th inning, the Mets were up 7-1 and it looked like an easy win.
However, the Padres managed to make the score 7-5 by the 9th inning.
In the 9th inning, rain began pouring down. A rain delay was ultimately called with seemingly untouchable closer, Jeurys Familia, on the mound in the bottom of the 9th inning with 2 outs. After the rain delay ended, Justin Upton promptly hit a three run homerun to give the Padres an 8-7 lead. Then another rain delay was called.
Mets fans had to wait over an hour to watch the brutal end to a game that should have been won. For the second night in a row, Mets fans suffered heartbreak.
The events of July 29th and July 30th created a season low for the Mets. Tomorrow, July 31st, was the trade deadline and it looked increasingly like no help was coming for the Mets. The 1st place Washington Nationals were also coming to town tomorrow. The way things were going, a sweep by the Nats would all but end the Mets season.
Friday, July 31st
The trade deadline.
The Mets were still last-minute shopping to see if they could acquire a big bat for the lineup. There were a variety of names being thrown around. Would the Mets and Rockies finally make a deal that would send Carlos Gonzales to New York? Would the Mets and Reds swap Zack Wheeler and Jay Bruce? Ultimately, all of these options did not pan out.
5 minutes before the 4:00pm trade deadline, a last-minute move was announced.
The Mets would trade minor league pitcher, Michael Fulmer, for Tigers’ slugger Yoenis Cespedes. Alderson finally found his featured piece for the Mets offense. He finally gave the Mets superstar rotation the offense it deserved.
However, not to be lost this day was the arrival of the Washington Nationals. The Nats had a 3 game lead in the division. A sweep would place the Mets 6 games out.
If the Mets had a bad series, their season could be put in serious jeopardy.
This 7pm game against the Nats would end up being the most memorable game of the Mets 2015 season.
Wilmer Flores made his first start since he believed he was traded to the Brewers. He fittingly drove in the Mets’ first run of the game that night.
The game ultimately went 12 innings with the score deadlocked at 1-1. Then, Wilmer Flores came to bat and hit perhaps the most memorable walk-off homerun in Mets history.
On this day, the Mets became legit contenders and never looked back.
Despite a week of many emotional lows and highs, a Mets team that was truly amazing finally came together.
Yoenis Cespedes ultimately went on an unbelievable tear in a Mets uniform hitting 16 homeruns in only August and September. The Mets seized 1st place only a few days after the trade deadline and never looked back. This Mets team was good enough to make the World Series.
The 2016 Mets now have lofty expectations and one of the most dynamic teams in all of baseball. The 2016 Mets look like they will be a team to remember.