On September 1st, it seemed as if the Mets were as close as ever to being on top of the baseball world. After beating the Dodgers 5-3 to take two out of three from the best team in baseball in a series resembling the playoffs, I walked out of Citi Field that evening ecstatic, believing and hoping anything was possible for this team.
Just 38 days later, the Mets season came to an end, as they fell to the Padres in three games in the NL Wild Card series. For a team that produced so many highs and dramatic moments over the course of a 162 game regular season, it was an unfair ending given the journey of the season. Yet as a Mets fan, it felt all too fitting given what the fanbase as a whole has endured up to this season, including past heartbreaks and teams falling short.
My first experience with Mets heartbreak was the first Mets team I rooted for in 2006. I was six years old, and looked up to David Wright, Carlos Beltran, and Carlos Delgado. They’re the reason I am obsessed with the Mets and love baseball. I still remember going to school the day after Game 7 of the NLCS, proudly wearing a black Mets t-shirt, because even though I was sad their season was over, I loved the Mets, and was proud of them, and wanted people to know that. Being in second grade, I didn’t fully grasp the magnitude of the heartbreak older Mets fans were experiencing, and had that team won the World Series, I likely would not have experienced the same elation.
In the years that followed, not much good came out of the Mets. The collapses of ‘07 and ‘08 led to years of mediocre and bad baseball, few exciting moments, and lots of pent up frustration.
In 2015, it finally seemed like the Mets were breaking through, catching lightning in a bottle in the second half of the season with a great young pitching staff, Yoenis Céspedes in the regular season, and Daniel Murphy in the playoffs. They wound up taking us on a ride to Game 5 of the World Series, where the magic finally ran out. While losing to the Royals in the moment was painful, looking back, all I can be is is deeply appreciative of the unexpected yet thrilling season they provided us with, despite falling short of baseball’s ultimate prize.
The 2022 season was one that felt different from the start. In the second year of Steve Cohen’s ownership, the Mets made several offseason splashes, including bringing in future Hall of Famer Max Scherzer. Joining Jacob deGrom at the top of the rotation, the two of them were supposed to be the golden ticket for the Mets, mowing down hitters enroute to a World Series parade come November.
This dream was quickly interrupted, as deGrom did not make it out of spring training healthy, casting a cloud of doubt on how the Mets would fair this season.
That did not deter the team, as from the very first game of the season, there was a feeling of something special brewing in Queens. The combined no-hitter, the ninth inning comebacks in St. Louis and Philadelphia, the Pete Alonso walk-off homer — they were all early season moments contributing to what was becoming an extraordinary season. Come summertime, the looming return of Jacob deGrom along with a healthy and dominant Max Scherzer off the injured list was making the Mets one of the hottest subjects in baseball. For the fans who make this team a large part of their life for six months year after year after year, it felt like the investment was finally paying off, the fortunes of the Mets were turning, and we were all so lucky to witness it.
When deGrom did return to Citi Field in August, the final tilt in an all important 5 game series against the Atlanta Braves, the hopes and dreams of a powerful top of the rotation were coming to form. In front of a raucous and electric crowd, deGrom once again took the field to the tune of ‘Simple Man’, looked as dominant as ever, and helped lead the Mets to victory. Edwin Díaz, one of the main stars of 2022, jogged in from the bullpen to ‘Narco’, went viral in the process, and completed one of the biggest weekends in recent memory for the Mets.
The Mets, who almost are never good, were seemingly great, and in the conversation as a World Series favorite. This feeling of euphoria and hope continued throughout the month of August, with moments like the Brett Baty home run against the Braves and the Mark Canha game in Philadelphia, making the Mets seem like they may be a team of destiny. The pure joy culminated at the end of the month with a clash against the best team in baseball, the Dodgers.
After dropping the first game, there was Jacob deGrom on the mound again, pitching in front of a sellout crowd, with a playoff atmosphere, something that could only be dreamed about back in 2018 when the legend of deGrom was beginning to start. Brandon Nimmo made the catch of the year, deGrom pitched 7 innings of one-run ball against the best offense in baseball, and Timmy Trumpet electrified the Mets’ faithful. The next day, the Mets won the rubber game of the series thanks to their trademark timely hitting and more than solid pitching, improving their record to 84-48.
After that game, the Mets we knew and loved, the ones who dared us to dream and believe all summer long, started to sputter. The offense became inconsistent, the pitching was no longer great, and the Braves just refused to lose. The midsummer magic was recaptured if only briefly in come from behind wins against the Brewers and Marlins to stay ahead of Atlanta heading into a defacto playoff series at Truist Park at the end of September.
We all know what happened next, as the three best Mets’ pitchers faltered, the lineup was lifeless, and the Braves stepped up and stole the division from the Mets, bouncing them to the Wild Card round. More of the same happened this past weekend, as Max Scherzer and Chris Bassitt failed to live up to the moment in the postseason, and the Mets’ bats were all too quiet with the exception of Saturday night.
The way the season ended is a tough pill to swallow for many. For the diehard fan that invests their life into baseball from April to October, there’s an odd feeling, one that is hard to describe, when faced with the fact the season is over. Knowing we will never see the Mets as currently constituted take the field again is sad. The hopes and dreams we once had for this team are seemingly gone in an instant, leaving us to ponder what could have been. It’s imagining dominant starts from Jacob deGrom or Max Scherzer in a postseason clincher, or the chance to see ‘Narco’ truly capture the baseball world in a big game.
While I am still proud to be a Mets fan, just as I was in 2006, I’m no longer six years old when the journey of my Mets fandom was just beginning. In this time I’ve learned what it means to be a Mets fan and understand all that comes with it.
Despite the painful way the season ended and the past heartbreaks, I still have that little kid inside of me, who loves the Mets more than anything, and will always dream of what may seem impossible and believe they have a chance. When Opening Day in 2023 rolls around, I will dive back in head first and let the Mets consume me, distract me from the real world, and if I’m lucky enough, I will once again find a team to believe in and think anything is possible, with the hopes one day my dream of a World Series title will come to fruition.