John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |
This decade won't be remembered fondly by Mets' faithful, even if it did include the fifth World Series appearance in franchise history. But it did have its moments.
Here are my Top 10 best/most memorable moments of the 2010s, along with five of the worst.
The 10 To Remember:
1) Game 5, 2015 NLDS vs. Dodgers
Even though the Mets went on to sweep the Cubs in the NLCS, the 3-2 win to put away the Dodgers in Los Angeles always felt like the high point of that exhilarating post-season.
The game dripped with suspense from start to finish, as Jacob deGrom threw a gutsy six innings without much of a fastball that night, Daniel Murphy broke a 2-2 tie with a sixth-inning home run off Zack Greinke, Noah Syndergaard pitched the seventh out of the bullpen, and Jeurys Familia closed it out with two perfect innings.
Afterward I congratulated Terry Collins, who spent many years as a minor-league manager in the Dodgers' organization, and he was so jazzed that he nearly yanked my arm out of its socket while shaking my hand.
2) Johan Santana No-Hitter
Yes, maybe it will always be tainted by umpire Adrian Johnson's missed call on Carlos Beltran's line drive that kicked up chalk just beyond third base. But I'm still ranking the moment, which occurred June 1, 2012, this high because it seemed to mean so much to so many Mets' fans who'd lived through countless near-misses by Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and others over 50 years while waiting for the franchise's first no-hitter.
Santana was worthy of the honor, obviously, as a two-time Cy Young Award winner for the Twins who almost surely would have been a Hall of Famer if injuries hadn't cut short his career at age 33 after that 2012 season.
Collins feared that allowing him to throw 134 pitches that night could have ramifications, but Santana pitched effectively until having his foot stepped on while covering first base a month later, which may have caused him to compensate with his delivery and led to more arm problems.
3) DeGrom Wins Second Straight Cy Young Award
In 2019 Jacob deGrom became the first Met and only the 11th pitcher in history to win back-to-back Cy Young awards. To put it in greater perspective, he is only the sixth pitcher ever to post consecutive seasons with at least 250 strikeouts and an ERA below 2.50, joining Hall of Famers Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, and Jim Bunning.
Which makes for a couple of intriguing questions: Can deGrom, who turns 32 next June, put together enough elite seasons to be Hall-worthy? And can the Mets take advantage of his brilliance by making a post-season run while he's still in peak form?
4) Alonso Breaks Rookie Home Run Record
In truth, it was the entirety of Pete Alonso's 2019 season that made him such a phenomenon, as he wowed New York as much with his likeable, fun-loving personality as his power-hitting exploits and stamped himself as a cornerstone player for years to come.
Winning the Home Run Derby gave him national exposure but hitting that 53rd home run on Sept. 28 was a memorable and perhaps lasting milestone, as he eclipsed Aaron Judge's rookie record of 52 while also giving him a final total that led the majors.
5) Wright's Farewell Appearance
This moment was tinged with sadness, as David Wright was forced out of baseball prematurely due to injuries, primarily spinal stenosis. But his final game, on Sept. 29, 2018, was also a celebration of a player who was respected as much for his character as a career that was on a Hall of Fame track before injuries intervened.
There was no Hollywood finish that night, as Wright walked and popped out before being pulled for a standing ovation, but it hardly mattered. His tearful emotions, and those of most everyone connected with the Mets, made for a memorable send-off for the Mets' captain.
6) Dickey Wins NL Cy Young Award
R.A. Dickey's 2012 season was a magical tale that made for a best-selling book and, who knows, maybe a movie someday. It still seems hard to believe that at age 37, after becoming a knuckleballer as a way of extending a career as a journeyman starter, Dickey went 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA, earning the Cy Young award in landslide vote over Clayton Kershaw.
Omar Minaya gets the credit for signing him as a free agent, going into the 2010 season, and Sandy Alderson does likewise for selling high on Dickey after that Cy Young season, trading him for Noah Syndergaard and Travis d'Arnaud.
7) Harvey's All-Star Start
With the Mets in the midst of six straight losing seasons, Matt Harvey's start in the 2013 All-Star Game, held at Citi Field that year, made for quite a spectacle. Harvey was arguably the best pitcher in baseball at the time, 7-2 with a 2.35 ERA, his every start a buzz-worthy event.
He didn't disappoint in his All-Star outing, pitching out of a jam in the first inning that included striking out Miguel Cabrera with his then-practically unhittable slider, and going on to get three K's in two scoreless innings. All of which seemed to be more evidence that Harvey was on his way to a spectacular career.
8) The Cespedes Trade
The Mets were going nowhere at the time, you'll recall, at 52-50 on the final day before the trading deadline, July 31, 2015. An earlier trade of Wilmer Flores and Zack Wheeler for Carlos Gomez had fallen apart, fortunately for Sandy Alderson as it turned out, and as the 4 p.m. deadline approached the Mets' GM was unsuccessful trying to make deals for Jay Bruce and then Justin Upton.
Desperate to jump-start a lifeless offense, Alderson agreed to trade top pitching prospect Mike Fulmer to the Tigers for Cespedes, and the Cuban slugger carried the Mets with 17 home runs and a .942 OPS to the NL East title.
9) Big Sexy's Home Run
What would a list of memorable moments be without Bartolo Colon's home run, so stunning that Gary Cohen at the time called it one of the greatest moments in baseball history.
By then Colon was already beloved in Queens, in part because of his Joe Sixpack-like physique that belied the athleticism and durability that allowed him to pitch in the big leagues until age 45.
In San Diego on May 7, 2016, however, Colon astonished everyone by turning on a James Shields fastball and, at age 42, hitting the first home run of his career, adding to the legend of the guy they called Big Sexy.
10) Flores Cries
The legend of Wilmer Flores as an unlikely fan favorite was born out of the tears he cried rather famously during a game with the Padres on July 29, 2015, after hearing from fans near the dugout of reports that he was being traded to the Brewers.
Such rare show of emotion, which became a storyline on SNY's game telecast that night, captured the hearts of Mets' fans who chanted his name at Citi Field in the weeks that followed. All the more so when the deal fell through and, two nights later, hours after the team had traded for Cespedes, Flores hit a 12th-inning walk-off home run to beat the Nationals.
And Five Moments To Forget:
1) Familia's Quick Pitch
Some in the organization will always be convinced the Mets would have won the 2015 World Series if Jeurys Familia hadn't tried to trick Alex Gordon with the quick pitch that landed beyond the center field fence for a game-tying home run in Game 1.
2) Murphy Signs With Nationals
The Mets refused to believe that Daniel Murphy's Babe Ruth-like October in 2015 was anything more than a hot streak, and they paid for it dearly as he tormented them as a member of their rivals for three years.
3) Duda's Wild Throw
Maybe the Mets weren't going to win World Series Games 6 and 7 in Kansas City, but they would have at least had the chance to find out if Lucas Duda hadn't panicked at the sight of Eric Hosmer making his mad dash for home plate and thrown wildly to allow the tying run to score in the ninth inning of Game 5.
4) Harvey's Elbow Injury
In retrospect it seems that Matt Harvey's later injury, the thoracic outlet syndrome, killed his career. But the news of his need for Tommy John surgery in 2013, when he was young and seemingly invincible, was the first sign that he might not be the Mets' savior, after all.
5) Bay Signs For $64 Million
Technically the deal was agreed to in late December 2009, but Jason Bay was introduced at a press conference in early January 2010, in what proved to be something of an appropriate start to a decade of frustration, as he turned out to be a colossal bust.