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The 2020 Mets take on the Oregon Trail

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Can this band of intrepid ballplayers survive the uncertain journey ahead?

Atlanta Braves v. New York Mets Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Last season, LaRomaBella and I wanted to find out if the New York Mets could survive the Oregon Trail, and our experiment turned out to be oddly prophetic. Hint: it involves clothing.

So with baseball on hold for the foreseeable future, we decided to see if the 2020 Mets could survive the arduous journey.

Again we cheated to get as many Mets as possible into the wagon. Last year David Wright was the team leader, but as much as it pains me to admit it, this is no longer his team. It is technically Jacob deGrom’s to lead, and while LaRomaBella had some reservations about giving Pete Alonso leadership responsibilities so soon, we decided it would be for the best that they share the duties.

The rest of the wagon party consists of Jed Lowrie, J.D. Davis, Dominic Smith, Jeff McNeil, Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, Seth Lugo, and Rick Porcello.

Jed Lowrie was included simply, like the real Jed Lowrie, he just showed up. The name was already there so we went with it.

Noah Syndergaard was considered to join the party, but his injury was deemed too significant for him to make the journey.

As we know both deGrom and Cespedes are farmers, obviously they were assigned the farmer occupation heading out. Their knowledge supposedly would keep the oxen healthy. As for the other occupations, Mets and doctors usually don’t go well together, so we avoided that and nothing else seemed to suit this wagon.

The years since leaving the Mets have not been kind to Matt Harvey, who is now the proprietor of his own general store. He offers the best prices on the trail, perhaps to help his old teammates, so we load up on supplies. The one major issue: clothing. We can only afford one set per person, so they will have to make do. As for food, as we have seen from their social media posts, there are a few hunters on this team, so we figured they could hunt on the trail to make up the deficit. We thank Harvey for his help before heading out and wish him well on his new endeavor.

Since Jeff Wilpon is sponsoring this journey, all the money is now gone and the team starts out under-supplied and underfunded. To make do, the rations have been changed to meager, and the pace is now grueling since it’s early and they should have the energy to keep up.

Hope springs eternal as the crew sets out on the trail. Health is good, spirits are high, and....

They immediately lose the trail. That’s not exactly the start we were hoping for but nothing so catastrophic that it can’t be overcome. Despite the early loss, they regroup and face their first challenge.

They have no money for the ferry so they have to caulk their wagon and hope for the best.

By some miracle the Wilpons’ frugality did not come back to haunt them, and they safely made it across. All seems well until they come to yet another river they must cross. This crew is being tested early, and they once again have no choice but to caulk it and hope.

And once again they rise to the occasion and successfully cross the river. As for hunting they were doing quite well bringing food back, but in deference to Jeff McNeil, a strict no squirrel hunting policy was put in place. The same could not be said about buffalo—sorry, Wilson Ramos.

It is thirteen days in, and outside of some bad weather, things had been going relatively well until tragedy strikes!

We have our first injury on the trail, and it’s no surprise Jed Lowrie is involved. Perhaps he was never fully recovered from last season and just became overwhelmed by the grueling pace. We can’t risk losing key members of the wagon this soon in the journey, so we place them on the 3-day IL and wait it out.

While they are sidelined for three days they decide to hunt, and it turns into a disaster.

They used eleven bullets to bring back only two pounds of food. This is the equivalent of blowing through the entire bullpen and still losing. Think a long extra-inning game against the Marlins that destroys the bullpen for the next week. These Mets can’t afford to be wasting bullets like this, so they will need to be smarter the next time they go hunting.

Lowrie, Davis, and Smith are still not recovered from their IL stint, but the team decides to travel to their next destination anyway. They arrive, and the trio makes a full recovery, which is the good news. Now the bad.

They lose the trail yet again. We don’t want to blame leadership just yet, but this is not a good look that they have suffered two very similar losses. It’s not even a month in, and their health is poor, they’ve suffered brutal losses, had players end up on the IL, and the weather has been terrible. This all sounds accurate.

The one positive was that Yoenis Cespedes was well enough to travel after missing all of last year, so of course that quickly changes.

McNeil and Cespedes end up on the IL for a week with typhoid fever. Thankfully they are ready to go after resting, and the team remains intact.

As is often the case with this team, the good times don’t last long. A little over a week later, they suffer their next injury.

Now it is Nimmo and Conforto who have fallen ill. Fortunately, May starts off on a positive note. They get better, and someone finds some wild fruit which was unexpected. That’s basically calling up a spot starter and having him contribute to the team. Well done!

And now the Wilpons’ poor foresight, lack of planning, and their refusal to give the team extra money comes into play. Remember how the team could only afford eleven sets of clothing? Welp.

All I can say is thankfully it is May ,and the weather has turned warmer. I don’t think Alonso has to wait for a walk-off to invoke the shirts-off policy now. Maybe every day is one long walk-off. We can dream.

On the other side of the coin, they were prepared when their wagon axle broke, so depth is certainly important over the course of a long season.

On May 10, the Mets once again have to dig into their reserves when a wagon wheel breaks which isn’t disastrous. They were prepared for exactly this scenario, and OH NO.

It was going too well. Their meals had been changed to filling. The weather was warm, their health was fair, and all of that is gone like the dumpster that caught fire at Citi Field. Difficult decisions will need to be made, and once again the rations need to be cut to meager. No cookies for the cookie club.

Thankfully a mixture of hunting and wild fruit gets them out of dire straits. They right the ship after being struck by disaster—until they meet their next challenge.

They keep pushing their luck since they can’t afford the ferry, and this river is over 20 feet deep. Could this crew finally be out of their depth?

Nope! There is no challenge this crew can’t overcome, including cheap owners that put them in this situation. Maybe it wasn’t a mistake to put Pete in charge with Jake after all. The crew seems to rally around him, and OH COME ON.

They lose the trail yet again! LaRomaBella and I agreed this is Pete leading them astray and not Jake, as Pete tends to get over-amped. He needs to grow, learn, and keep his cool like Jake. This is why we were hesitant to give him the full leadership duties. Jake’s poise gets them back on track as they head into June, which is usually the cruelest month for the Mets. And, yup, here we go again.

It’s not clear how two out of their three outfielders broke their arm. Perhaps Conforto and Nimmo crashed into each other trying to make a play, but what is clear is that they will be out of commission for a while. This is obviously a huge blow to the wagon, but they have to continue on. And then, this team is literally snake bit.

After resting, they have to cross the Snake River. The river is over 1,000 feet wide and 6.5 feet deep. A Native American offers to help them navigate these treacherous waters at the cost of three sets of clothing, but remember those are their last three sets of clothes. LaRomaBella was all too willing to make that bargain, but in the end they push their luck one last time.

Their luck finally ran out, and they didn’t cross the river without incident. However, it wasn’t the total disaster it could have been, like every trip to Atlanta the Mets make over the course of a season.

With most of the wagon still ailing and coming off the excitement of the wagon nearly toppling over in the middle of the river, the team decides to rest and regroup. Lugo and Porcello finally recover.

The group’s hunting trips have been very successful, and they are fully recovered from the fire that claimed over 600 pounds of food. Their rations were raised back up to filling, so they are finally eating well and heading in the right direction as July approaches. Wait, what?

Nimmo and Conforto broke their...other arm? We went through the trail log to confirm their first broken arm never healed. So did they rebreak their first arm or break the other one? It’ll remain a mystery, but we can all agree this is obviously very Metsy.

If you thought not one, but two broken arms, was the worst thing to befall Nimmo and Conforto you would be wrong my friend.

Rough trail, indeed.

It’s the All-Star break, so the group gets a bit of a respite to recover from their many, many ailments. Also notice on July 10, they got lost yet again. What can you even say at this point? They return from the All-Star Break in better spirits, but Nimmo and Conforto are still not ready to return to action. They finally gain full strength at the end of July, but oh, what a surprise, they lose the trail yet again.

Jake finally takes control of the wagon and starts the home stretch into the playoffs as the calendar turns to August. They finally reach their goal on August 5, which is The Dalles.

Now comes the tricky part. They need to navigate down the river and avoid crashing into any rocks, and who better than to help them navigate these pitfalls and dangers than Jacob deGrom?

So with the team now in the very capable hands of deGrom and Alonso backing him up, they appear unstoppable. The rest of the wagon is fully healthy and so very close to their destination. deGrom and Alonso are the guiding forces to the promised land and:

WE DID IT!!! Thieves, fires, broken arms, typhoid, dysentery, and befuddlement of the trail, all the while having no money, was no match for these intrepid Mets. Losing David Wright as a leader clearly presented its challenges, but deGrom and Alonso pulled through.

The team has cemented its place in history and can now consider themselves legends. Congratulations to Jacob deGrom, Pete Alonso, and the entire 2020 New York Mets Wagon, which as far as we know bears no relation to Brodie Van Wagenen.