Down 0-2 to the Kansas City Royals in the 2015 World Series, the New York Mets are fully aware of the phenomenal deficit they face.
Shortly after their ace, Jacob deGrom, inexplicably surrendered four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to the Kansas City Royals in Game 2 of the World Series, the realization of letting a championship slip through their fingers suddenly became incredibly evident. Perhaps it was the long layoff that did them in. Or maybe, making the rounds as toasts of the town took a bit away from their competitive edge.
Whatever the case, the Mets took a shot to the solar-plexus in Game 1 – as the Royals hit them where it hurts against Jeurys Familia and Matt Harvey – and haven’t recovered. In fact, if Game 2 was any evidence, that shot to the gut late on Tuesday night has forced momentum in the opposite direction, (one sentiment Mets fans are more familiar with).
The first two games have set the stage. Not for a Fall Classic everybody is thrilled with, but one that has bouquets being thrown in the direction of the Royals. The Mets face an uphill climb down 0-2.
Only 11 teams in MLB history have come back from a 2-0 World Series deficit. This is extremely surprising, considering the incredible history of the game. Of the teams who’ve accomplished the feat are the Mets themselves, as they did so back in 1986. They actually did it after losing the first two at home, in Shea Stadium, against the Boston Red Sox. Doc Gooden was shellacked in Game 2.
Others who’ve made the uphill climb to euphoria include the 1921 New York Giants, 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers, 1958 New York Yankees, 1978 Yankees, and, of course, the 1996 Joe Torre-led Yanks.
The city of New York is no stranger when it comes to injecting its own unique brand of drama into the Fall Classic. Look no further than 2004, referencing the opposite end of the spectrum (only team to choke up a 3-0 lead).
While 1986 will be remembered by the Mets fan as a great comparison, the better parallel comes a decade later. The ’96 Yankees, after losing the first two games to the defending champion Atlanta Braves, were laughed off the field. The entire baseball world mocked the organization, labeling them a joke, a laughingstock, a team who simply “didn’t belong in the World Series.”
Their despair was entirely worse than what the Mets face at the moment.
Game 1 went to the Braves by a final score of 12-1. Game 2 was a little more competitive than that. Although when I say a little more competitive, I mean it was only a four-run difference at 4-0.
Both games took place at Yankee Stadium, as the Braves outscored Joe Torre’s club 16-1 heading home to Atlanta.
Not one soul in the world thought the Yankees had a shot.
Despair, depression and hopelessness ran wild through the city for 48 hours. Finally, the Yankees had made it back to the Fall Classic (first time since 1981). Better yet, it was only the year prior their fans had a chance to taste postseason baseball since ’81.
Most fans can’t remember it, but at that time it was the Yankee fan who was the starving animal, while the Mets fan was still coming down off the high that was the late 1980s.
The situation produced scenes and moments like this:
The equivalent will be what we witness from Citi Field tonight.
Moreover, think about the two managers for a moment. Immediately after Torre was hired by George Steinbrenner, he was tabbed the “puppet.” And after starting the 1996 season on a down note, the New York Daily News infamously dubbed the man “Clueless Joe.”
Can we really say Terry Collins has experienced anything different in his tenure as Mets manager?
Both Torre and Collins were baseball lifers upon their arrival in the Big Apple. Both were old-timers. Both were stale guys who the fans knew very little about and wanting very little to do with.
Yet, both have found their most success in New York, in their later years.
Could it come to be true that Collins will receive the same fate Torre did almost two decades ago? If so, tonight begins such a journey. Like the Yankees in ’96, who took Game 3 by a final of 5-2, and then coming back from a 6-0 deficit in Game 4, the Mets will need to find similar heroics this weekend.
Sometimes, it’s the easy way which satisfies starving fans. Sometimes, it’s the painful, miserable and magical way.
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