We just spent the better part of three weeks reliving some horrific memories from our New York Mets fandom as we voted on the biggest villain in franchise history (congratulations again to Fred and Jeff Wilpon. It was a truly well-deserved win.) We got tired of dwelling on the bad, so we thought it was time to turn our attention to better memories. As a result, we brainstormed some ideas over at Amazin’ Avenue HQ on how to participate in something far more pleasant. The idea of doing a bracket for all-time Mets seemed pretty obvious but also a little bit played out, so we instead turned our sights to focusing on recent players.
Introducing the UltiMET of the Millennium Madness tournament! Over the next three weeks, we will see who really was the best player to don the orange and blue since the year 2000 began. We came up with 68 players who have left a mark (big and small) on the team, and we’ll have the Amazin’ Avenue community vote to see who moves on each time.
For simplicity and for neatness, we broke down the brackets into four five-year spans: 2000-2004, 2005-2009, 2010-2014, and 2015-2019. Conveniently, this translated roughly to the Mike Piazza era, the early David Wright era, the later David Wright/early Citi Field era, and the Jacob deGrom/2015 NL Champions era. As a general rule, we tried to focus on players whose impact was felt within those years, so if a player made their mark mostly in 1997-1999, you may not see them in the 2000 bracket. We tried to stick players within the time frame where they made the most impact, but took some liberties in places in order to ensure we didn’t leave off players we wanted to see in the tournament.
While three of the four contests in the Elite Eight were never really in doubt, we had our closest and most hotly contested match of the tournament so far, and it went right down to the wire!
In the 2000-2004 region, Mike Piazza emerged the winner after defeating Edgardo Alfonzo with 86% of the vote (291 to 46). This should come as no surprise, since Piazza defined that era of Mets baseball and was the catalyst to the team’s 2000 World Series run. Piazza’s number 31 has not been worn by any member of the franchise since he left following the 2005 season, and it has since been officially retired as of 2016. His impact and influence go far beyond just mere statistics, as his home run post-9/11 became one of the most iconic moments in New York sports history and helped bring back a feeling of normalcy during those dark times. Whenever the team and its fans needed him, it always felt like Piazza would come through.
In the 2005-2009 region, David Wright won going away as he took down former center fielder and former future manager Carlos Beltran with 94% of the vote (318 to 19). Wright should, in theory, join Piazza soon among the elite list of players to have their number retired by the franchise. Wright’s emergence in 2004 signaled a changing of the guards as he became the new face of the franchise following Piazza’s departure, and he took the mantle and ran with it. After signing an eight-year deal following the 2012 season to remain with the club he grew up rooting for, he was named team Captain the following March. The Final Four match-up will pin the two biggest offensive forces in team history, and two fan favorites, against one another.
In the 2010-2014 region, we saw a match that went down to the wire. Johan Santana and R.A. Dickey battled and traded the lead several times. Dickey led by as much as nine votes at one point, but Santana came roaring back and grabbed a five-vote lead of his own on Saturday before Dickey rebounded. For much of Sunday and into Monday, both pitchers clung to leads of three votes or fewer at various moments, and it looked like overtime might be needed. In the end, the knuckleballer pulled off the upset by one single, solitary vote (169 to 168). While Santana threw the only no-hitter in franchise history, Dickey’s 2012 season overshadowed Santana’s swan song. In his final home start of the season, Dickey struck out 13 and won his 20th game, becoming the first pitcher to reach the mark since Frank Viola in 1990. His year culminated in a Cy Young award, and he was traded that winter in a deal that netted Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud.
In the 2015-2019 region, two-time reigning Cy Young award winner Jacob deGrom had no trouble getting past 2019 Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso, pulling out 94% of the vote (318 to 19) in an easy victory. deGrom has become the face of the team over the past five years, winning a Rookie of the Year Award and making three All Star game appearances in addition to his two Cy Young awards. He has been the one constant reliable in a sea of uncertainty for the club, always bringing his A-game even when the team refuses to back him up (glares at the offense and bullpen). Prior to the 2019 season, deGrom signed a five-year extension to remain with the club, and rewarded the Mets with his second straight Cy Young. There’s no telling what he will do for an encore when baseball eventually returns. This final four match-up pits the last two players to win the Cy Young award in orange and blue, and two fan favorites, against one another.
Voting in the Final Four is open until Thursday, April 30!
1 vs. 1: Mike Piazza vs. David Wright
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1 vs. 2: Jacob deGrom vs. R.A. Dickey
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For this tournament, I decided to put together a consolation bracket to get a final ranking of the top eight Mets, just for fun (what else do we have to do, anyway?) This features the four players who did not prevail in their Elite Eight matches. The winners will move on to face off in a fifth place game, and the losers in a seventh place game.
2 vs. 2: Edgardo Alfonzo vs. Carlos Beltran
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1 vs. 2: Johan Santana vs. Pete Alonso
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