Wilmer Flores’ clutch hitting has been a big reason for the Mets’ success in 2015. Courtesy of Wikimedia.
A screenwriter’s profession relies on storytelling and imagination. It requires them to tap into the moviegoer’s subconscious, to tell an incredible story and to evoke an emotional reaction. Yet, many screenwriters say that the best sports stories come from reality rather than fiction. This year’s New York Mets are writing their own Oscar-nominated story.
The story of the 2015 New York Mets started four years ago with the 2011 hiring of general manager Sandy Alderson. After making the National League Championship Series in 2006, the team went through two years of epic collapses before falling off a cliff in 2009 and becoming the laughingstock of the league. The Mets were rebuilding, and Sandy was entrusted with leading the team out of hell. He hired Terry Collins, an experienced manager who had the dubious distinction of being the best active manager to have never been to the postseason. In building up the farm system through intricate trades, the Mets obtained Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, Dilson Herrera and Zach Wheeler. The team drafted Matt Harvey, Michael Conforto and Kevin Plawecki. With an increase in available funds post Madoff scandal, the Mets signed Curtis Granderson, Bartolo Colon and Michael Cuddyer. All of these moves and others primed the Mets for future success.
Coming into the 2015 season, the Mets looked like a competitive team, but not a division winner. Almost every baseball expert predicted the Washington Nationals to win the NL East, and they had all the right to. Washington signed Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, putting him in a starting rotation with Steven Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister. The Nats rolled out a lineup with Jayson Werth, Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper. Experts overlooked the boys from Flushing, and early on, it looked like they had a right to do so at the start of the season. David Wright injured his back in April and was out until August. Injuries to Daniel Murphy, Travis d’Arnaud, Lucas Duda and Steven Matz looked to derail the once-promising season. The offense was historically terrible, in the bottom rankings of the National League. The young, phenomenal pitching staff kept the Mets hovering around .500 by the time the trade deadline came around in late July.
Furthermore, the Mets traded for Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe, a transaction that caused many people to scratch their heads. At the time, the Mets lineup looked like it was straight out of the minor leagues. While adding these two players provided some MLB talent to the lineup, critics still believed the Mets needs more hitting talent. Soon thereafter, it was reported that Zach Wheeler and Wilmer Flores would be sent to the Brewers in exchange for slugger Carlos Gomez. The reports turned out to be false, but in the wake of the reports, the entire baseball world got a glimpse of one player’s love for his team, as Flores shed tears while playing his position. Wilmer ended up staying with the team he had been a part of since he was 16-years-old.
The team still needed a bat, however, and Alderson continued the search. Once Detroit let out the rumor that outfielder Yoenis Cespedes was on the market, Sandy kept his ear to the Motor City. He tried a few other teams that had high asking prices before contacting Detroit. Ten minutes before the deadline ended, he finalized the deal to acquire Cespedes for two prospects. Later that night, while three games behind the Nationals in the standings, Wilmer hit a walk-off against Washington in the 12th inning. Funny, the way baseball works.
The Mets rode the momentum of the Cespedes trade and Wilmer’s walkoff for the rest of the season. Cespedes was one of the hottest hitters in August and continues to be in September, putting up historic numbers for a deadline acquisition and garnering MVP talks. While the Mets increased their lead in the division, the Nationals faltered down the stretch, getting swept by the Mets again in early September. New York’s incredible hot streak culminated on Sept. 26, 2015. Staring down Jay Bruce, Mets closer Jeurys Familia threw his signature split-finger low and away on an 0-2 count, getting Bruce to swing and sending the Mets onto the postseason.
The story of the 2015 New York Mets has yet to come to an end, as it will continue on Oct. 9 when they take on the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS. The boos and jeers have been replaced by the cheers of loyal fans. The moral of this story? Looking down from the top of the mountain is always better when you’ve looked up from the bottom of the valley. Ya gotta believe.