We just believe, man.
About a month ago, the Mets were declared dead in the water by more people than not. Ignoring public opinion, they shrugged off the ‘seller’ label and made arguably the most impactful National League move at the trade deadline: signing Marcus Stroman, bolstering their rotation and keeping the team intact for a possible Wild Card run. They then won their first nine series after the All Star break, including an astounding stretch in which they won 14 of 15 games–often in dramatic, comeback fashion. They inserted themselves into the thick of the playoff race, and put the rest of the National League on notice. “I think it’s pretty reminiscent of what happened in 2015,” said Noah Syndergaard after yet another epic night in Flushing.
From improbable to emboldened, the Mets now control their destiny. Now, they’ll face a different type of test.
Winning when you’re not expected to is a tough assignment; it’s hard to sustain morale when so many seem to be chipping away at it. It’s hard to overcome a near-winless June, including countless games gift-wrapped to opponents and members of your own fan base seeming to decry your existence. But it’s a different kind of hard when you’re back on everyone’s radar, widely considered the hottest team in the National League, and likely to get people’s best shot. The Mets have gone from cinderella story to the team with a target on its back. They’ve also lost not just two games in a row for the first time in seemingly forever, but Jeff McNeil to a hamstring injury. Still–speaking of 2015–they’ve promoted Ruben Tejada, who’s been tearing up the minor leagues all season, they’re two games out of playoff position, and they spend a lot of the rest of the season playing a) home games b) the teams they’re battling in the standings.
Predictably, McNeil’s injury precipitated widespread panic among the sky-is-falling portion of mets fandom; but hope is far from lost. This team has proven it’s hard to put away, both in single games and in the standings. If one pitcher has an off day, they’re virtually guaranteed to have a good starter as backup the next day. They still have a Rookie of the Year candidate, a Cy Young award winner, several of the game’s best arms, and a team with both playoff experience and the power of belief.
Buckle up, Mets fans. It might be a bumpy ride, but it won’t be a short one.