Last year was remarkable for Mets fans in a number of ways. First, we saw the pitching mature and deliver on the hope and promise of the past several seasons. Second, ownership opened up the wallets to bring some professional ballplayers to town to replace the likes of Darrell Ceciliani, Eric Campbell and Danny Muno. Third, the team’s improbable post-season run fueled by the unlikely Daniel Murphy power surge got them all the way from 6 consecutive seasons of losing to a National League Championship and a chance to play in the World Series.
Lost somewhere in the euphoria of actually getting to the post season, actually winning the wildcard round, actually winning the divisional championship and then beating the Dodgers to advance to the World Series was the fact they were pretty much bitch-slapped by the Kansas City Royals not unlike the last ill-fated World Series appearance against the Bronx Bombers in 2000. The surprising surge that took them to the top was such an emotional high that most fans pretty much gave them a pass on failing to complete what they started.
So what do they do for an encore? What would constitute success by the Mets in your eyes?
To me, nothing short of a Game 7 in which either team has a legitimate shot of winning would constitute failure. Yes, winning 90+ games would be great. Manhandling others in the post-season would be even better. However, how would you feel if the team again phoned it in during the World Series and got swept or (as happened last year) lost 4-1?
Of course, there’s risk there. If you do get to Game 7 and lose, that pain will stay with you perhaps for the rest of your life. However, if it goes the other way and you win, the unmitigated joy will be enough to tide you over for the down years that will inevitably follow in this cyclical game of successes and failures. All of us who are old enough remember vividly where we were and what we were doing during Game 6 in 1986 when the ball “gets by Buckner” and that wasn’t even the end of the Series.
If the team can indeed click on all cylinders then there’s no reason to settle for anything less than a World Series victory. However, if they get to a Game 7 and are within a swing of the bat of winning in the 9th inning and don’t do so, I’ll concede they deserve benefit of doubt for having given it their all. But a repeat of the 2015 travesty against Kansas City would be a strong indictment of leadership and motivation.
So what are your expectations for 2016? I’m on record saying they will get 93 wins and that will be enough to take the division. I think they will for the second consecutive year advance to the World Series, but I’m also afraid they will once again fall short of victory.