One month ago today, Mets fans were waking up feeling refreshed and excited. It had little to do with the team’s 2019 season on a larger level, but Pete Alonso had just won the home run derby and done so in such a way that it was hard not to be excited. It was as individual an achievement as there can be in the game of baseball, but Mets fans are no strangers to the consolation prizes that are great individual accomplishments by players on bad Mets teams. Jacob deGrom and R.A. Dickey come to mind immediately, for instance.
Back at the All-Star break, they were in 14th place in the National League, a spot so low in the standings that you normally wouldn’t refer to it as any specific place at all. Their six-game lead over the cellar-dwelling Marlins in the standings was smaller than their seven-game gap between them and the National League’s second wild card spot.
It was hard to care whether or not they won games on a day-to-day basis. It wasn’t just that they were in such a bad position, but they had gone into the break winning just three of their final ten games of the first half, and they carried a -46 run differential. The bullpen had been atrocious, putting up a collective 5.63 ERA that was the third-worst in baseball in the first half. The rotation wasn’t nearly that bad, but its 4.45 ERA ranked merely 15th. The offense hadn’t been perfect, but with a team 102 wRC+, it actually ranked 10th.
But here we are a month later, and it’s impossible not to care. Personally, to ensure there wouldn’t be any gaps in being tuned in during the Mets’ doubleheader on Monday, I picked up a pair of wireless headphones earlier in the day just in case my evening run overlapped with any of either of the games. If you had told me that would be a thing I would do a month earlier, I would have thought you were nuts. Damn did it feel good to care enough to think about a Mets game like that again, though.
The best thing about your team contending in baseball is that it highlights one the sport’s greatest traits: its everyday presence. When your team is going like the Mets have been going—or even a couple notches below this insane level—you get something to look forard to nearly every day. The off days, like the one the Mets had yesterday, feel like a gigantic pause button that’s just waiting for you to hit play again.
And on top of all the success on the field, these Mets have been fun. On July 26, Jeff McNeil got some attention for wanting to adopt an adorable puppy with his wife. That night, the Mets won the second of the wins that became part of the 13-1 stretch. A few days later, the team traded for Marcus Stroman, who undoubtedly makes the team more fun—not to mention more talented—as compared to Jason Vargas.
And shortly after that, on July 31, Pete Alonso coined “LFGM” in a tweet that was equal parts optimistic and appreciative of Mets fans. The team had gained some ground by that day, cutting their deficit for the second wild card to four-and-a-half games, and right now, Alonso is looking pretty prophetic.
It’s early August, and the Mets have a huge series with the Nationals at Citi Field this weekend. The team and its fans have been in this spot before, in the not-recent but not-too-distant past. Citi Field should be loud, and you’ll be hard pressed to find any Mets fans who aren’t glued to these games. Imagine thinking a month ago that we’d collectively be in this spot today.