With the New York Mets, it’s always the same old story. They pull you in with a great run, only to break your heart in the worst possible way.
Agony is just one of the many words to describe New York Mets fandom.
Every big moment, every win, fans are with the team. Fans feel like a legitimate part of it having watched every game. It’s a special feeling that only sports fans can truly understand. That connection is both a blessing and a curse, and when it comes to the Mets, it always seems to lead to pain.
I was born in 1995, so I’ve seen two World Series appearances by the Mets, both of which were lost in five games. Both of which were agonizing in their own way. Still, those are some of the happiest moments being a Mets fan, which is a telling, frightening sign.
Two-thousand and six, 2007, 2008, 2015 and now 2019—the iconic years of disappointment in Mets history during recent memory. Mets fans know agony; it’s a familiar friend after all these years.
In 2006, the Mets had finally put everything together. David Wright and José Reyes were the homegrown stars that every championship team needs. Carlos Beltrán was a near-MVP player. Carlos Delgado was a force in the middle of the lineup as one of the most feared power hitters in baseball. Pedro Martinez led a rotation filled with veterans who should be able to pitch just well enough to not ruin the offense. Lastly, superstar closer Billy Wagner was brought in to fix the bullpen issues. Everything was going their way, and fans were ready for a special year.
During the regular season, everything was as it should be. The Mets cruised to an NL East title win. David Wright and Carlos Beltrán finished top five in MVP voting. The pitching was better than anyone imagined it could be, ranking sixth in baseball in ERA. The Mets were one of only four teams to be top 10 in both runs scored and team ERA. They finished tied with the Yankees for the best record in baseball with 97 wins at the end of the season. All looked set up for a second Subway Series.
Once the playoffs got underway it was as if nothing changed. The Mets went up against the wild card winning Dodgers. The Dodgers like the Mets had finished top 10 in both runs scored and ERA. They were supposed to be a dangerous opponent, one who not be underestimated. Then the Mets swept them. It looked like the Mets couldn’t be stopped. It was their year. They looked far and away like the best team in the NL.
When the 83-win Cardinals beat the Padres it looked like the Mets would walk to the World Series. It was only a question of who they would face, the Detroit Tigers or the Oakland Athletics? It’s never that simple with the Mets, though. Game one was like any other for that year’s Mets they walked to a 2-0 victory and all looked right in the world.
The roof came crashing down in game two. Up 6-4 going into the seventh inning the Mets looked set to win yet another game behind their stellar bullpen. Then Pedro Feliciano and Guillermo Mota combined to allow two runs to ties the game. In the ninth inning Mets superstar closer Billy Wagner blew up allowing three runs. It was the Mets first loss in the playoffs. They looked mortal.
After a 5-0 loss in game three, the sky was falling. The world was ending because the Mets didn’t look like the team they were supposed to be. How could they be losing to an 83 win team? A bounce-back win in game four behind young deadline acquisition Oliver Perez gave Mets fans hope. They could breathe again this team still had it. In Game 5, Cardinals pitcher Jeff Weaver spun a gem and the Mets were up against the wall, one more loss and the season was over. The good news, the final two games were at home. The bad news, Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter was on the mound for game six.
Things looked as bleak as possible going into that game. Still, these were the Mets. they had won 97 games and were at home. No way they would drop this game. They didn’t John Maine pitched one of the best games of his career. the Mets won 4-2, but a troubling trend continued Billy Wagner pitched poorly again. He allowed two runs in the top of the ninth. That set the stage for game seven.
The decider was played at Shea Stadium, but again the Mets were at a disadvantage. The Cardinals had Jeff Suppan on the mound after he shut the Mets out in game two. The Mets were relying on a young Oliver Perez to get it done. Six innings and one of the greatest catches in Mets history, and the game was tied 1-1. The bullpens battled and the game went to the ninth still tied at one.
Mets manager Willie Randolph decided to keep the young and usually reliable relief pitcher Aaron Heilman in the game for a second inning. The move made some sense, Heilman hadn’t allowed a run to score in either of his other two appearances. He had just shut down the Cardinals in the inning before. The most important aspect though, Billy Wagner was awful in the NLCS. He had just allowed two runs in the ninth the night before and blew up in a similar situation in game one. How could Willie trust his superstar closer? Three batters later Yadier Molina, who had hit just three home runs that whole season, took Heilman deep and gave the Cardinals a two-run lead.
It wasn’t over, though; the Mets still had a chance in the bottom of the ninth. This was one of the most potent offenses in baseball that year. It started great, Endy Chavez and José Valentìn singled to open the inning. Cliff Floyd struck out pinch-hitting for Heilman, but it was the top of the order with two runners on. Jose Reyes lined out to Jim Edmonds, and almost all the hope was sucked out of fans. Then Paul Lo Duca walked, and the bases were loaded with two outs. Carlos Beltrán stepped up to the plate and a base hit would have tied the game. All that hope rushed back to Mets fans as one of the best hitters in MLB postseason history stepped up to the plate.
Beltrán was up against the Cardinals rookie closer Adam Wainwright. It wasn’t possible he would get a hit, fans knew he would get a hit. It was just a matter of time. Beltrán worked the count full. It was the moment every child dreams about. Game 7, bases loaded, two outs, and a full count. That dream quickly became a nightmare when Beltrán watched a nasty curveball drop into the top of the strike zone. The Mets season was over. The magic was gone. The Mets World Series destiny was no longer.
Mets fans have never forgiven Beltrán for that moment. That’s unfair to him, but it’s understandable. It was a crushing loss that started one of the worst and most agonizing runs in team history.
There were only two times that in my life that I cried because of a sporting event. The Mets losing to the Cardinals in Game 7 was one of them.
Mets fans recovered from the devastating loss in 2006 and were excited about the 2007 season. They had the same core from the year before. There was no reason to expect them to not be able to repeat their dominance of the NL East.
Again, things aren’t that easy. The Mets were winning the NL East going into September. They were up two games on the Phillies. Even after a disappointing September, the Mets went into the final seven games of the season with that same two-game lead over the Phillies. The Mets proceeded to lose five straight games, while the Phillies went 3-2 over the same stretch. The Mets were a single game behind the Phillies, but they were playing the lowly Marlins in the last two games of the season with their top two pitchers going.
They won the first game and the Phillies lost to the Nationals. Headed into the final game of the season the NL East was tied. If the Mets beat the Marlins that would mean at worst they would have to play a one-game playoff against the Phillies to decide the NL East winner. The Mets had Tom Glavine on the mound.
That first inning caused so much heartbreak for so many fans as they watched the Marlins put up seven runs in the top of the first inning on Tom Glavine. The Mets lost that game and their season. The Mets playoff hopes dashed right before there eyes because they lost six of their final seven games. It couldn’t possibly get worse than that.
Little did Mets fans know what would happen in 2008. In the offseason, the Mets traded for one of the best pitchers in MLB, Johan Santana. That, combined with the roster that nearly won the NL in 2006 and the division in 2007, forced hopes to soar sky-high. For a third-straight year, it was their year.
For the second-straight year, the Mets went into September leading in the NL East. They were a game up on the Phillies. Going into the final 10 games of the season, the Mets and Phillies were tied in the standings. It was going to be another dog fight down the stretch. From there the Mets lost four of the next six, while the Phillies won four of their next six. That was it for the Mets. They never recovered and lost the division by three games. They had collapsed in September again.
Even worse than that, the Phillies won the World Series that year. After three years of hope, pain and agony, the Mets and their fans were drained. The team wouldn’t finish with a record over .500 in any of the next six seasons. The magic and the hope and all been used up. There was nothing left in the tank.
Twenty-fifteen was the complete opposite of the years before it. The Mets were 79-83 the year before. Fans came into the season with little to no expectation of any kind of postseason dream. It was supposed to be a season of mediocrity.
During the first half of the season, that’s exactly what it was. The Mets were one of the worst offenses in baseball, and the only reason they were able to hover around .500 for most of the season was because of an elite pitching staff. Then came the second half.
Heading into deadline day, the Mets were just 53-50. Their starting rotation had kept them close to .500 all year, and it had paid off. They were just 3 games back of the first-place Nationals going into a huge series with them started on deadline day. On that day the Mets completed a trade for Yoenis Céspedes. That night Wilmer Flores hit a walk-off home run in the 12th inning. This came less than a week after Wilmer was crying on the field after a fan told him he had been traded to the Brewers in a deal for Carlos Gomez. That deal had fallen through.
The Mets didn’t look back after that night. The offense caught fire, and the pitching stayed stellar. The Mets finished the season after a combined record of 36-19 August and September. The Mets ended up running away with the division and they were the hottest team in baseball. They were the team that no one in the playoffs wanted to play thanks to an absolutely stacked rotation that was headlined by a trio of aces in Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, and Noah Syndergaard.
In the NLDS, the Mets played the LA Dodgers. Daniel Murphy, a rookie Michael Conforto and Jacob deGrom led the Mets to a hard-earned series win in five games. That series is also known for ruining the career of Rubén Tejada. The Mets starting SS at the time Tejada was taken out at second base by Chase Utley on a dirty slide. Tejada broke his leg on the play and has never been the same. This slide prompted MLB to pass the Utley rule, which outlawed the dirt slide that Chase Utley used to take out Tejada.
Headed to the NLCS the Mets were taking on the upstart Cubs. They had won 97 games, which was only good enough for the second wild card. Sill, they fought past the Pirates, and the Cardinals to get to the NLCS. It was there that Daniel Murphy became a legend. He homered in every game in the series and helped the Mets sweep the young Cubs team and earn the unlikeliest World Series bid the franchise had had since 1969. It was there that they met the Royals.
The Royals had lost in the World Series in 2014 and was out to avenge that loss. Mets fans were confident though. How could they lose when the offense was firing on all cylinders, their staff was the best in baseball, and Jeurys Familia had set the franchise record for consecutive saves. Familia also hadn’t allowed a single hit in the previous two rounds.
Things just aren’t ever that easy for the Mets. In Game 1, the Mets led the Royals headed to the ninth inning. Familia recorded the first two outs without much issue. Then Alex Gordon hit a home run to dead center field to tie the game. The Mets and Royals ended up playing 14 innings in that game. The Royals won the game.
In Game 2, the Royals battered deGrom for four runs. They continued to hit the Mets bullpen as well. Jon Niese allowed three more. On the other side, Johnny Cueto threw a complete game allowing only a single run. More heartbreak looked in store for the Mets. Once they headed home to Citi field something changed.
The offense came back and the Mets scored nine runs in game three. They blew away Yordano Ventura and the Royals. Hope was rekindled, Mets fans were reminded why the team was here in the first place. Game four wasn’t that simple.
The Mets carried a lead into the eighth inning in game four. Rookie pitcher Steven Matz had given the team five good innings. The bullpen had held the Royals scoreless until the eight. Mets set up man Tyler Clippard came into the game at that point. Clippard got the first out of the inning and followed that by walking two-straight hitters. He was pulled for Familia at that point. He got the first batter of the inning to roll over a ground ball that should have gotten him out of the inning. Instead, playoff hero Daniel Murphy booted it and a run scored. Familia would give him two more hits after that. The Mets lead was gone, and they went down three to one in the series.
The Mets just wanted one more win to force the game back to Kansas City in game five. They had Matt Harvey on the mound. A win here would have meant that deGrom would have the chance to force a game seven where anything could happen. The Mets were only able to scrape across two runs against Edinson Volquez, but it was enough to have a 2-0 lead headed to the ninth inning. Harvey was pitching the game of his career, but he was looking a little gassed in the eighth. Nobody cared though, every Mets fan knew that Harvey had to go back out there for the ninth inning. He was pitching way to well to hit the bench. This was the Dark Knight’s moment to save Gotham.
He allowed back to back doubles to lead off the inning. The Royals were within one run and in stepped Jeurys Familia. He got a groundout from the first batter he faced. He was only two outs away from forcing a game six. Instead, Familia induced a second ground ball, this one allowed Eric Hosmer to score after a bad throw home by Lucas Duda. The Royals tied the game. In the 12th inning he Royals put up a five-spot on the Mets bullpen and the season was over.
Do you see the trend yet? The source of Mets fans pain and agony for so long has been the Mets bullpen. It has cost them every time they got close to pulling off something magical in this century. 2019 hasn’t been any different.
The 2019 Mets are a confusing team. Fans came into the year expecting the team to compete for a playoff spot. They had an offseason of acquiring talent to make a playoff run despite many pundits and fans believing the best course of action was to rebuild. With a new GM and a pitching staff raring the go the Mets decided now was the time to go for it.
The Mets started the year on fire. They went 9-2 to start the year and looked like the team they were promised. It all went downhill from there. The bullpen fell apart and the offense sputtered to a halt. Nothing went right for the Mets in May, June, and July prior to the all-star break. The Mets found themselves 11 games under .500 at one point. It was miserable. Then something changed.
All of a sudden coming out of the all-star break the Mets were red hot again. They went on a run that somehow put them right back in playoff contention. They won 18 of 19 games. It was unbelievable. Just like that, all those fans who had given up on the team were dragged back into it. They had hope again. At multiple points, the Mets were as little as a half-game out of a playoff spot.
They lost a game to the Nationals that would have gotten them into a playoff spot just two weeks ago. They followed that up by sweeping the red hot Cleveland Indians. The Mets were going to get Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, and Jed Lowrie back. It looked like the start of another amazing second-half run that would propel the Mets to the playoffs.
Instead, the bullpen showed up again and the offense stopped hitting. The Mets lost six straight to the Braves and the Cubs and they were five games out again. All hope seemingly lost. Then they come back and win three of their next four against the Phillies and Nationals. They were only four games back. It wasn’t likely they would make the playoffs, but there was hope there still. Tuesday night’s game though, that killed all hope for Mets fans. A certain win that would have kept the Mets within four games of the Cubs and within a potential poor stretch from the Cubs away from a playoff spot. The Mets bullpen gave up seven runs in the bottom of the ninth to steal defeat from the jaws of victory.
The Mets only seem to know how to raise their fans hopes just so they can crush them. sports are a cruel thing for most fans that lead to agony for everyone at some point. That said, being a Mets fan and having to face these raised hopes only have them dashed every single time is as agonizing as being a fan for any team could ever be. Hey, there’s always next year though, look how great Alonso, McNeil, and deGrom are they’ll all be back next year. Maybe 2020 will be the Mets year.