“Tell me one last thing,” said Harry. “Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?”
”Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” ― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
To the outside world, the 2019 Mets achieved nothing this season. They fell just short of the playoffs, their bullpen was a curse upon the team, Mickey Callaway seemed overwhelmed on a near nightly basis, and there are only what-ifs, if-onlys, and what-should’ve-beens now that the season has come to its conclusion.
But that is not all what this team was. This team demanded to be noticed, it didn’t quit, and there were goofy personalities and historic moments. They established a core that could contend for years to come, but above all they were fun. Just because they fell short of their goal doesn’t mean the magic of the summer wasn’t real. We all experienced it together, even if there is nothing concrete to point to on a stat sheet. Even if it all happened in our hearts and our heads, the 2019 Mets deserve to be celebrated.
So without further ado here is a list—not a ranking—of moments that made this one of the most memorable in recent memory, perhaps even more so than the 2016 team that made the postseason via the Wild Card game.
1. A fanbase re-energized
Once the Mets went on their run, fans returned in droves. In postgame interviews many players commented on the crowds and the energy at Citi Field. Even opposing players took notice. Other fanbases seemingly can’t even enjoy a 100-win season and instead choose to get angry when an individual record gets broken, but this fanbase is appreciative of their special players and the work they put in.
2. Ron Darling returns after battling cancer
Ronnie gave everyone a scare when he announced in April he would be taking a leave of absence to deal with a medical issue. It was later revealed he was battling thyroid cancer, but after two months away from broadcasting, he returned to the booth and made the beloved SNY trio whole once again. He didn’t miss a beat once he returned, and having Gary, Keith, and Ron together once again for the stretch run made it that much more sweet.
3. Carlos Gomez loses a shoe and hits a game-winning home run
Carlos Gomez finally made his way back to the Mets after being traded for Johan Santana in 2008. He famously was nearly a Met again in 2015, but in the end the delay worked out for everyone involved. With the injuries to outfielders piling up, Gomez donned the orange and blue again and had a memorable day against the Nationals. After stealing second, he popped up after the throw went into center field and hustled to third but lost a shoe in the process. Leaving a shoe on the field is certainly unique but he put an exclamation point on the day when he launched a go-ahead, three-run home run in the eighth to help secure a thrilling victory.
4.) Rajai Davis and his Uber ride
One day before Gomez’s heroics, it was Rajai Davis who made headlines. Since the team was short on outfielders, he got the call before gametime, and the only way to get to Citi Field from Lehigh Valley was to call Uber. His driver Jason was the hero that day and got Davis to Queens during the third inning. But when a pinch hitter was needed in the eighth, it was Davis who got the call, and he delivered with a three-run home run off Sean Doolittle capping off a whirlwind first day as a Met.
5. Robinson Cano’s three-home run day
The jury is still out on the trade that brought Robinson Cano to the Mets, but Cano’s leadership was on full display throughout the season. He was always one of the first to greet teammates in the dugout after a big moment, Amed Rosario credited Cano with helping him take a step forward this season, and Pete Alonso sought his advice about participating in the Home Run Derby. On the field, however, the season probably didn’t go the way Cano wanted. He helped secure a win Opening Day with a home run off Max Scherzer, but then home runs became hard to come by. He was hit by pitches twice in April, once on the wrist and once on the hand, and then the leg issues started. When healthy, he showed just what he was capable of, and that was never more evident than the three-home run day against the Padres. No matter how the trade is viewed, Cano will still be here, and a healthy and productive Cano unquestionably makes the team better.
6. Luis Guillorme’s first career home run against the Nationals
One of the fun aspects about epic stretches is that sometimes wins come from improbable places. It seemed questionable when Mickey Callaway sent up the light-hitting Guillorme to pinch-hit in a crucial game against the Nationals, but he came through for his manager by hitting a game-tying home run for the first of his career. The Mets scored again that inning on a sacrifice fly by J.D. Davis, and they once again walked away with another comeback victory against Washington.
7. Shirtless ballplayers
“If you hit a walk-off, your shirt is coming off,” declared Pete Alonsom who was largely responsible for the jersey ripping this season. Before the year LaRomaBella did an Oregon Trail experiment, and at one point the intrepid Mets travelers had to exchange clothing in order to get help from a Native American. She declared that would lead to “shirtless ballplayers,” which was eerily prophetic. Four different jerseys got ripped after four exhilarating victories, and we can only hope these trends continue.
8. Dominic Smith
Dominic Smith seemed like he would be the odd man out when Pete Alonso was named the starting first baseman out of spring, but he forced his way into the lineup with a great spring and the better glove at first. After struggling in the majors the previous year, Smith thrived and put up great numbers with limited playing time. Unfortunately his season was interrupted when he was diagnosed with a stress reaction in his foot. He didn’t let the injury keep him down and he became the Mets’ biggest cheerleader from the dugout, leading many “Let’s Go Mets” chants for the crowd. He could also be seen on his scooter celebrating walk-offs on the field with his teammates. Always happy and personable, it was fitting he ended 2019 with a walk-off home run against the Braves. It was a great moment for a good player but even better teammate.
9. Jeff McNeil and his puppy
After being one of the standouts from the 2018 season, McNeil returned for an encore in 2019. He was among the batting average leaders in the first half of the season, was named to his first All-Star game, and made this catch. Unfortunately injuries shortened his season, but one of the most adorable moments of the year was when he fell in love with a puppy that was up for adoption. After meeting the pup, he hit a home run which only cemented his determination to make the puppy his. After meeting the puppy the next day, his wife agreed to bring the cream-colored pup home who they named Willow. McNeil and the Mets ended up going on a tear and Willow became a good luck charm. Hopefully McNeil can fully recover from his injury and will be ready for more #puppypower next season.
10. Wilmer Flores’s at-bats against Jacob deGrom
It was a bit shocking when the beloved Wilmer Flores was non-tendered by the team and he instead made his way to Arizona to become a Diamondback. It took until September for Flores to make his return to Citi Field where he was greeted warmly by the home crowd. As he stepped into the box he not only acknowledged the crowd, but the Mets’ starting pitcher who he greeted with a wink. deGrom couldn’t help but smile but was later annoyed when Flores took him deep. The competitive righty admitted after the game that if he had to give up a home run he was happy it was Flores. Fittingly, Wilmer’s home run would be the last run the Cy Young favorite gave up for the rest of the season.
11. The entire Jacob deGrom saga
When the Mets hired deGrom’s agent as their new general manger it certainly raised some eyebrows but it also offered some hope that a contract extension could get done since Brodie Van Wagenen was the one to ask for an extension in the past. The ace set a deadline of Opening Day to get a deal done, but as the days in Spring Training dwindled it seemed less and less likely that a new contract was possible. Finally it took Noah Syndergaard speaking out, an assist from David Wright, and 7-Eleven taquitos to get the Cy Young winner inked to a five-year deal worth $137.5 million.
For the first couple starts of the year deGrom looked to be worth every penny. His second start in Miami was especially dominant when he struck out fourteen and hit a home run in the Mets’ victory. Then things took a turn and the season snowballed on quickly on him and his ERA ballooned to an unsightly 4.85. From May 1 to his last start on September 25 he flipped the switch and morphed back into the pitcher from 2018. He made his third All-Star game, pitched a clean seven-pitch inning, and got a little measure of revenge when he induced a pop-up from Mike Trout.
With Hyun-Jin Ryu and Max Scherzer injured and struggling down the stretch, deGrom’s signature consistency vaulted him to the top of the Cy Young Race and is considered the favorite to repeat as the award winner. He was reflective and thoughtful about the season when he recently sat down with Steve Gelbs and added a pinch of humility which he also has become known for.
Jacob deGrom’s abilities on the field weren’t the only thing that stood out. The Mets were without a leader after David Wright’s departure and deGrom seemingly tried to fill the role to the best that his deGrom abilities would allow. After the Jason Vargas incident, it was the ace who tried to smooth things over and issued a statement on behalf of the players which was especially noteworthy since this all happened after a game in which the bullpen blew another one of his impressive starts. Although he said nothing earth-shattering it was a breath of fresh air after Mickey Callaway, Brodie Van Wagenen, and Jason Vargas all fumbled their statements. He also sang the praises of Wilson Ramos after the drama with Syndergaard came to light, and was one of the leaders Alonso approached to get his thoughts on the 9/11 cleats.
After Pete Alonso’s record-breaking night, he had plenty off on-field interviews to conduct after the game. While the rest of the dugout cleared out, it was deGrom-and Paul Sewald- who waited in the shadows to congratulate the slugger one final time. This moment perfectly captured the ace. Willing to stay out of the spotlight but there when his teammates need him. The Mets are in good hands with him locked up for the long-term.
Pete Alonso and Jacob deGrom hug it out after tonight's win— SNY (@SNYtv) September 29, 2019
We have a feeling those two have some hardware coming their way pretty soon pic.twitter.com/MZbqnQNdUn
12. J.D. Davis
The trade that brought J.D. Davis to the Mets raised eyebrows at best and brought ire at worst. The criticism was the team continued to gut their farm system in favor of a bat-first player who struggled at the major league level. The argument was he could be a solid depth player but the move seemed unnecessary considering the roster was already pretty crowded, but a funny thing happened on the way to September. In a nice turn of events J.D. Davis had a breakout season. Injuries to Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie opened up playing time, but even when Frazier returned he moved to the outfield to keep his invaluable bat in the lineup. Known for his tireless preparation, he finished the season hitting .307/.369/.527 and was even more successful at Citi which was where offense usually went to die in years past. At home he hit .354/.413/.665 and finished with an OPS of 1.078. Yes the defense was still lacking to say the least, but Just Dingers Davis proved he is a worthy member of this team’s core and possibly Van Wagenen’s best move this offseason.
Dubbed the Sun Bear by Pete Alonso, he was repeatedly captured in the dugout enthusiastically celebrating big moments in the goofiest way possible. His biggest moment, and one of the biggest moments of the year, was his walk-off hit against the Indians. It was certainly exciting, with the added layer of getting his jersey ripped off, but it was his jubilant postgame interview that stands out. We got to see the making of a fan favorite in real time and it’ll be interesting to see how Davis fits on this team going forward.
“Hey Mets fans, we did it again!! Woooooo!!!”— Steve Gelbs (@SteveGelbs) August 22, 2019
I felt like Mean Gene Okerland tonight, with JD Davis cutting a wrestling promo in front of the Citi Field crowd.
This team is really something else right now. Enjoy this. Runs like this don’t happen too often. What a group. pic.twitter.com/ZWxIaiydQM
13.) Showing some personality
Before this year, it was Noah Syndergaard who was the most visible off the field, and he was certainly up to his old tricks on Twitter, but several others had no issue showing off their personalities on social media, while the Mets showcased a few others. Marcus Stroman, Robinson Cano, Todd Frazier, Jeff McNeil, and Pete Alonso were all active on social media, and SNY did a great job of highlighting the delightful Brandon Nimmo. The season was fun but dimmed when Nimmo was out with an injury, but his return brought all his joy with it.
14. Marcus Stroman
The team shocked everyone at the Trade Deadline when they added Marcus Stroman instead of totally selling. There was some commotion when he found out he was going to the Mets which led to speculation he was not happy with the deal. He said he was more upset with how the Blue Jays handled the situation and showed nothing but excitement from Day 1. Never was this more evident than when he was one of the first to run to Michael Conforto when he hit the walk-off against the Nationals. Stroman started that game and had every reason to be in the clubhouse like most starting pitchers, but there he was running onto the field with his teammates. He showed nothing but love to the fans and was effusive in his praise for his teammates. He seamlessly fit into the team and pitched very well in September after getting off to a bit of a shaky start. The team went 8-3 in his starts and overall was just fun to watch on the mound compared with his more stoic rotationmates.
Shout to NEW YORK and the fans for bringing that energy all year. I’m super thankful to be back home playing. Greatest city in the world. Crazy excited for the future! @Mets— Marcus Stroman (@MStrooo6) September 30, 2019
15. Seth Lugo
Lugo was known to have good stuff ever since he came up in 2016, but this season he proved to be the Mets’ best reliever by a wide margin. He was overlooked a bit when Van Wagenen brought in Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, and Justin Wilson but Lugo outperformed them all and was the only dependable reliever at times. His pitching remained top notch all season but he also picked up a hit and RBI in a comeback victory against the Rockies. Overall, Lugo is an indispensable member of the bullpen, who should be overlooked no longer, and who could very well fight for the closer’s job if Diaz continues to struggle next season.
16. Pete Alonso
Alonso is kind of like the Mets Kevin Bacon this season where there are six degrees of Pete Alonso. Everything good stemmed from the ebullient rookie. His friendship with Dominic Smith was endearing, and his enthusiasm was infectious and rubbed off on his teammates which culminated in an on-the-field chest bump with the normally reserved Syndergaard. He was the Polar Bear. He had whimsical sayings, even though disappointingly some were scripted by Jimmy Fallon. He worked tirelessly to improve and had a rookie season for the ages.
In sum, Alonso was everything fans could’ve possibly hoped for and then some. He was exciting and rose to every occasion. He never shied away from the grand stage and wanted nothing more than to win and put on a show for the fans. He was proud to be a Met and was a reason to be proud as a fan. His play on the field was one thing, but a big part of the re-energized fanbase was because of his new “LFGM” rallying cry. He was so sincere in his belief that it was impossible to not get sucked into the ride with him.
He rewrote quite a few record books, and the awards and accolades will come, but his leadership qualities can not be denied. His gesture with the 9/11 cleats was perfect for a city still healing and for those still suffering from that horrific day. He also made sure to check in on an injured teammate when he ran out to left field from first base to talk to J.D. Davis after he made a brilliant catch but crashed into the wall in Colorado.
It was poetic then, that almost a year to the day David Wright exited the field in tears for the final time, it was Alonso who was overcome with emotion on the field a year later. He had just surpassed Aaron Judge to get sole possession of the rookie home run record and the tears starting flowing as he took the field the next inning. It said alot how he was viewed in the clubhouse when both Todd Frazier and Marcus Stroman ran onto the field after contact, and then all his teammates were waiting for him after he rounded home. Wright certainly left his mark on this organization and left a massive crater behind his departure, but if anyone could possibly fill that void it is the exuberant and passionate Polar Bear who exhibits many of Wright’s best qualities.