After nine years in the wilderness—which was more like an arid desert filled with Bobby Bonilla paychecks, historic end-of-season chokes, the single goofiest pop-up drop in history, and Bernie Madoff punchlines galore—the Mets are back in the playoffs tonight, with game one of the NLDS against the LA Dodgers kickoff around 9:45 p.m. EST. The Yankees were already eliminated from the playoffs (for the third year in a row), making this their sixth consecutive year without an AL pennant. But more important than all that: this is the first time in nearly 30 years—a.k.a., my entire lifetime—that New York City has felt like a Mets town.
Once you have Anthony Weiner and Dunkin' Donuts on your side, what could go wrong?
Mets opening post season. Isles opening in Brooklyn. Everything is awesome.
— Anthony Weiner (@anthonyweiner) October 9, 2015
— New York Mets (@Mets) October 9, 2015
While there was a sigh and shrug at the Yankees loss—this was never meant to be *their* year, and they were surprisingly good as opposed to actually good for much of it, thanks to things like A-Rod's power hitting and re-acceptance into society—the Mets have built upon several seasons of good old fashioned buzz to finally put (what seems to be) all the pieces together.
They have a trusty, beloved captain in David Wright, who is a team veteran now (even though he still looks like the kid from mid-00s); the most exciting hitter of the second half of baseball in trade deadline hero Yoenis Cespedes; a resurgent Curtis Granderson, a slugging Lucas Duda, a magically-enhanced Wilmer Flores, and fiery rookie Michael Conforto. And best of all, they have three or four aces (potentially five, if you count the injured Zach Wheeler!), all of whom are under 27. They also have one of the best closers in the league, and the beautiful, ageless beached whale better known as Bartolo Colon.
— New York Mets (@Mets) October 9, 2015
With the perpetually troubled Wilpons seemingly taking a back seat, leaving managerial duties in the competent hands of Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins, this is about as steady as the team has felt in a decade (and that's taking into consideration all the dramatic trade deadline non-trades, parrot worshipping, and pitch count controversies this year). Even if they don't win it all this time—and keep in mind, this is still decidedly an underdog team, just ask all these ESPN prognosticators—they have the building blocks to be a perennial playoff team and World Series contender for years to come (assuming they don't alienate Matt Harvey into leaving, overwork Noah Syndergaard, refuse to pay Cespedes, or suffer injuries across the board, all of which could certainly happen still).
And the zeitgeist in NY sports is on their side right now: comedians love the Mets (“The essence of comedy is failure and things not working out and the guy slipping on a banana peel. That’s the Mets"), the fans are absurdly passionate (finally!), Collins' is the real deal zen master in town, Cespedes has the feel-good story of the year, and Flores, well, Flores' tears are filled with pixie dust. Emotionally stunted men and women across the five boroughs (and the tri-state area) finally feel something again.
I wrote this. It's about how the Mets make emotionally-stunted men like me feel things. https://t.co/qRdgI1hRwo
— Aaron Leibowitz (@aaron_leib) October 9, 2015
Maybe we'll be able to overcome the 1-2 punch of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke to beat the Dodgers (a lot of people across the nation definitely want it to happen), maybe we'll just be happy to say we enjoyed the ride to this point and it was enough (for now). For the next week, every nominal sports bar in the city is going to be jam packed with Mets fans.
For now, enjoy a taste of the last truly great Mets team. It was a simpler time then, when any World Series or Super Bowl-winning team was expected to make a goofy music video to commemorate the experience. We should all be so lucky to see Colon do the Nae Nae.