Mets rained out on Monday, and a story of hope to offer the 2022 Mets
The Mets will play a straight doubleheader today starting at 4:10 PM, weather permitting
What’s Up with the Mets? ⚾
The Mets and Nationals were rained out last night at Citi Field - they will make the game up as part of a straight doubleheader today beginning at 4:10 PM, weather permitting
The Braves were shutout the by the Marlins on Monday night, putting the Mets 1.5 games behind Atlanta in the National League East. The Braves have two games left, the Mets three
Injury Updates 🏥
Starling Marte (fractured finger) attempted baseball activities on Monday and showed only a “little progress.” There is still no timetable for his return
Today’s Games 🗓
Match-up: Mets (98-61) vs Nationals (55-104)
Where: Citi Field — Flushing, NY
Starters: TBD vs. RHP Cory Abbott (0-4, 5.11 ERA)
When: 4:10 PM EDT
Where to Watch: SNY
Starters: TBD vs. RHP Paolo Espino (0-8, 4.30 ERA)
When: 30-40 minutes after the conclusion of game 1
Where to Watch: SNY
Note: The Mets have not announced the starting pitchers for either game, although Carlos Carrasco was scheduled to start Monday’s game, with Taijuan Walker originally slated to start tonight’s originally scheduled game
A story of hope for the Mets lies within their own history… 📝
The Mets heartbeat in the National League East went from faint to slightly less faint on Monday night when the Braves were shutout by the Marlins 4-0.
While that gives the Mets have more hope than they did 24 hours ago, it’s only slightly more and the math still is what it is for the Mets if they are to win the National League East, which is as follows:
The Mets must win all three games against the Nationals this week
The Marlins must win all three games against the Braves this week
At a minimum, the first of six necessary outcomes has been achieved and as we’ve seen time and time again in this sport, you really never know what might happen.
I spoke yesterday about the parallels between this end to the season to the one in 1999. I remember it like it was yesterday - after all it was one of the most memorable in their history and they haven’t had a lot of teams which were better, either.
Their season really began on Sunday morning, June 6, 1999 with the Mets staring up the hole of a six-game deficit to the Braves in the National League East and a record of 27-28. Then Mets GM Steve Phillips cleaned house at Yankee Stadium in June and fired most of Bobby Valentine’s staff, and Valentine more or less said that if the Mets don’t improve and make it to the playoffs, he should be next. The Mets responded to that wakeup call with a 7-2 drubbing of the Yankees, which at the time served as merely salvaging the final game of a three-game series in what was a heated cross-town rivalry at the time (far more intense than it is today, for what it’s worth).
Fast forward to September 19 of that season with the Mets winning a rubber match against the Phillies 8-6 at Shea Stadium. It had been three months and 13 days since Phillips had cleaned house on the coaching staff, and the Mets had gone 65-30 and trailed the Braves by one game in the division but had a four-game lead over the Reds for the National League Wild Card.
Their next stop?
Turner Field in Atlanta on September 20. With all the hype of an epic showdown between the two statistical best teams in baseball set to go head-to-head for a run at a division title, the Mets felt it was their year for someone to take down the mighty Braves in the National League.
Well, it didn’t go that way.
The Braves rattled off three wins in a row, holding the Mets to six runs over those three games. The Mets found themselves four games out in the National League East, and they had lost 1.5 games of their Wild Card lead to the Reds in the process.
The Mets then headed to Veterans Stadium for a series against the Phillies, a team with nothing to lose in third place and ten games under .500. It seemed at the time it was an opportunity for the Mets to get their bats going and get back on-track with a week to go and another crack at the Braves at Shea Stadium the following Monday.
Well, it didn’t go that way.
The Phillies swept the Mets out of Philadelphia with three wins for a combined run differential of +4. The Mets totaled only seven runs in those three games to the lowly Phillies.
Six losses in a row, eight games behind the Braves in the National League East, and suddenly the Mets had relinquished their lead in the wild card race to the Reds, who went up a game.
The Mets were headed home a fractured team, having lost any hope of winning the division and were suddenly on the outside looking in on the entire tournament, having not won a game since they left Shea Stadium a week earlier.
It didn’t get much better when they got home, either.
The Mets were set to face the Braves again, a team that had already spent years taking them to school in the National League East. This time it was at Shea Stadium with the support of a raucus and hungry Mets crowd. After all, it had been 11 years since the Mets last playoff appearance, and that of course didn’t end well. But just a year before, it was Atlanta that had knocked the Mets out of their surprising run for a wild card in 1998 when they cleaned the Mets clocks for a season-ending sweep at Turner Field.
The first thing the Braves did was wallop the Mets for a 9-3 win, silencing the crowd and further enhancing the Braves supremacy over the Mets.
Seven losses in a row, the Braves on the brink of clinching the National League East, and the Mets slipped further behind the Reds in the wild card race.
The Mets finally broke the spell a day later with the bats breaking out for a 9-2 win, but the next day it was more of the same with the Braves edging the Mets 4-3 in extra innings, leaving the Mets for dead in the division officially and almost dead in the wild card race.
Two out, three to go, and the Pirates were coming to town.
The math was simple. The Mets had to sweep the Pirates, and the Brewers needed to win two out of three against the Reds in Milwaukee to get the Mets and Reds to a game 163 in Cincinnati. Or, the Mets had to sweep and the Brewers had to sweep to win the Mets the Wild Card.
Here in New York, there seemed to be no hope. The Mets were a beaten, deflated, tired team. It was your typical Mets season filled with drama and chaos but this time, the Mets had broken the 90 win barrier and were sitting pretty just 10 days or so before.
But what seemed like was so impossible actually happened.
The Mets edged the Pirates in game one 3-2 in 11 innings. Barely winning what really was a do or die game for the Mets against a second division club. The next day, Rick Reed delivered a masterful and memorable performance for the Mets in a 7-0 shutout. The next afternoon seemed like a day full of magic when the Mets won on a walk-off wild pitch from Brad Clontz with Mike Piazza at the plate, scoring Melvin Mora from third base to give the Mets their 96th win and a guarantee of at least their 163rd game, as the Brewers had already won the first two games against the Reds that weekend.
The Mets had to wait out a long rain delay in Milwaukee but eventually, the Reds were able to salvage the final game of that three-game series and they headed home to Cincinnati to meet the Mets the following day.
Long story short, Al Leiter fired a one-hit shutout and the Mets finally clinched a playoff berth. Through all of the adversity, chaos, negative press coverage, the team still found a way.
So at this point, you might be asking me, “why are you telling me this story?”
Well, as I said before this season reminds me of that 1999 season. There are differences of course, the one being the Mets are already in. But the Mets are likely to fall to the Braves in a similar manner in the National League East (although one of the lessons of this story is you truly never know what’s going to happen in this game) and their road to a World Championship will take a hit as a result. Like that Mets team from 23 years ago, these Mets came home from Atlanta a battered, bruised, dispirited and embarrassed ball club.
But it’s still all right in front of them, and hope cannot be lost despite this defeat. After all, those 1999 Mets never lost an ounce of hope despite their near-collapse in 1999.
They have to first win a best of three wild card series at home which will misalign their starting rotation for a series against the Dodgers, assuming they get that far at all. Then, if they somehow get through the Dodgers, they’re probably going to have to face the same Braves that have cleaned their clocks time and time again over the last 25 years.
But again, despite the presumptive loss of the division title and the clear and apparent mismatches and weaknesses the Mets possess on the roster, having a seat at the table is sometimes all a team needs. We never truly know what hand a team will be dealt in the playoffs. And for 130 games the Mets were a team filled with swagger and confidence and had demonstrated they can play and beat the best teams in the sport throughout the season.
So, why can’t they do that again? It’s still the same team with the same big horses in the front of the rotation, the best closer in baseball and the best 3-4 combination in baseball as well. They need the rest of the lineup step up and right now, but now is that opportunity for them to reboot and re-asses and see what kind of guts they have heading into October. They have work to do, and perhaps they aren’t the best team in the East but this is still a great club and now it’s time to put the pedal to the metal and see what all of this means in the end.
That’s what those 1999 Mets did, and it nearly took them to a World Series before they finally ran out of gas against (yep, you guessed it) the Braves (with a grand slam single in between).
Around the League 🚩
The Phillies hung on and survived the wild card race - they clinched a playoff berth with their 3-0 shutout win over the Astros in Houston on Monday
The Blue Jays clinched the top wild card spot in the American League with their 5-1 win over the Orioles
Luis Severino threw seven hitless innings in his return from the injured list as the Yankees topped the Rangers 3-1 in Arlington
Albert Pujols hit his 703rd career home run although the Cardinals were dropped by the Pirates 3-2 at PNC Park
The Cardinals did sign RHP Giovanny Gallegos to a contract extension that takes him through the 2025 season
White Sox manager Tony LaRussa officially announced his retirement from baseball
Evan Longoria’s season will end with a fractured finger as the Giants placed him on the injured list on Monday