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When a dream becomes a lie: Mets 2022 season crashes and burns in final 10 days
What felt like a magical season for the Mets ends in disaster, blowing the NL East last weekend in Atlanta and losing two-of-three to the 89-win Padres to end their season.
It wasn’t supposed to end this way.
In what felt like a storybook season for the New York Mets, things came crashing to an untimely end on Sunday night at Citi Field with a 6-0 shutout loss to the Padres. The story is over; there are no pages left to turn.
This was a season that for five months was spent turning even the most skeptical of Mets fans into true believers, as this club stacked up so many examples as to why this team was different than all the other ones that came before it. They pitched a no-hitter, they had comeback win after comeback win, they spent more money than any other team in baseball and had the best RBI man, top of the rotation and backend of the bullpen in the entire sport. This was a special team, and the evidence was there to back that up for an extended period of time. Everybody felt it.
Through September 1st, coming off of a scintillating series victory over the MLB-best Dodgers this looked like a team that could beat anyone and was on their way to a magical run in the month of October. This was a dream season, but what are you to do when you find out that dream was a lie?
Once again Mets fans found themselves staring at an oasis, only to find out that it was nothing more than a mirage in the depths of a boundless desert.
“They had the easiest schedule on paper in the major leagues and they squandered it,” SNY broadcaster Gary Cohen said following Sunday night’s defeat. “It was still there for them last weekend when they went to Atlanta, all they had to do was win one game but their starting pitching which had been carrying them let them down, as it did this weekend.”
For all of the good vibes and cache they had built up throughout this season, that was slowly but surely stripped away over the course of a long September where this team played poor baseball against a weak schedule, eventually careening to this final outcome. The believers grew thinner over time, and the anxiety slowly rose back up from the depths of the souls of Mets fans who’d thought those days had come to an end.
That feeling was palpable in the building on Sunday night, as the Citi Field crowd was uneasy from the very start. They’d slowly lost faith over the last month, and the energy of that crowd felt as if everyone was just waiting for something to go wrong, for the other shoe to drop — which it ultimately did.
Ten days ago the New York Mets were in first place, a place they’d been for 175 days prior, and now their season is merely a thing of the past.
“Nobody cared that we won 101 games, Brandon Nimmo said on Sunday night. “Just that we lost these two.”
This comes as yet another gut punch to a fan base that has experienced quite a few of them over the years, and it would be hard to blame any Mets fan for being even more hesitant when it comes to fully “believing” in the near future. If this team, of all Mets teams in recent memory, who’d compiled 101 wins and endless magical moments throughout the season still managed to fall apart and perish so quietly, how can one so easily expect things to be different the next time around?
The owner, front office, manager and players have all changed in recent years, but the Mets are a franchise that is still trying to outrun their own DNA. Until they do that, it makes sense that people would be somewhat hesitant to expect them to exorcize their demons and return to the promised land.
While they made monstrous improvements from last season and there should be confidence in this new ownership going out and making the necessary moves to continue to improve this team, it’s impossible to not be disappointed by this outcome. This was a team that won 101 games and was in first place nearly all season long, only to not win their own division and not even reach the NLDS. At the end of the day, they lost two-of-three — all in their own ballpark — to a team that finished 12 games behind them in the regular season standings and got one-hit in their series finale. On Sunday night the Mets became just the second team in the last five years to be shutout in a do-or-die postseason game – which was also the Mets, in the 2016 Wild Card Game.
“It’s a kick in the balls,” Max Scherzer said on Sunday night. “It’s the worst day of the year.”
This season should have felt like a rousing success and right now, now that it’s over far earlier than anyone could have ever expected, it just feels incredibly disheartening. It makes you question if what happened over the first five months was even real, or if it was just an elaborate illusion that was ultimately exposed when the lights got bright and the pressure ramped up.
In the aftermath of it all, it’s hard to envision what this next year will look like for this organization. They’ll be looking for a new team president and have a whole lot of key players hitting free agency, and I’m not entirely sure how that will play out. And if I’m being wholly honest, I’m not even sure that I really want to think about any of that right now.
The season taking the turn that it did took a lot of air out of this fanbase and for now, it feels right to just take a breather and hit the reset button. There will be time for those questions to be raised and eventually answered, but for now we need to process this for what it was and come to terms with the season ending in the unfortunate way that it did.
Right now, I’m not even sure how to evaluate the 2022 Mets. For a long time it felt like a storybook season.
It ended in something a whole lot different.