Keidel: Mets' Season A Success Even If They Don't Make Playoffs

Jason Keidel
September 12, 2019 - 1:41 pm
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By the time you read this, the Mets may be back at Citi Field, battling the Arizona Diamondbacks - for a four-game sweep, for another win, for the chance to inch closer to that coveted wild-card spot that seemed so distant seven weeks ago.

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At the All-Star break, the playoffs were as far away as the moon, something the Mets could see and describe, but never orbit. 

Sure, the Mets and their fans want to climb those two short rungs, catch the Cubs (or Brewers) and paint the last strokes on an astonishing comeback. But consider how far they've come to get within a whisker of the postseason. 

On July 12, the Mets lost to the lowly Miami Marlins, 8-4. They were 40-51, firmly in fourth place in the NL East. They had a minus-50 run differential. And they were about to pull the plug on the 2019 MLB season. Surely the rest of us had shoveled some dirt on them, writing those regular, midseason epitaphs that had become hauntingly common for the Mets. 

Since then, the Mets have gone 35-19 and are tied for third place in their division, outscoring their foes by 79 total runs. Now they are just two games behind the last NL playoff slot. They won their third straight against Arizona, scoring nine runs on 11 hits, with Pete Alonso showing heartwarming awareness with his 9/11-centric footwear, and his 47 homers pulling the Mets this close to October. 

The elements for a fairytale ending are in place. There are 17 games left in the regular season, 11 of which are at Citi Field. Even the six remaining road games are against the Reds and Rockies, who are a combined 34 games under .500. 

Robinson Cano and Jeff McNeil
USA TODAY Images

But if the Mets falter - the odds are that they will - you can say this season was, in some ways, a success. Twice the Mets have been left for dead, all but baseball carrion, only to shock NYC sports fans with two separate, robust revivals. The first was back in July, of course. The next came after those soul-snatching defeats in August. They lost six-straight to the Braves and Cubs - all of them at home - between August 23 and August 29. Then came what looked like the nail in their playoff coffin: that mind-numbing loss to the Nationals, after taking a six-run lead in the ninth inning. And the most disappointing loss of the season came at the hands of their most disappointing player - Edwin Diaz. 

These were the same, old Mets: full of hot air, overpaid players and executive incompetence, until they weren't. Talk all you want about the watered-down competition for two extra playoff spots, but this has been a thrill. The Mets had every reason to take out their mouthpiece and toss in the towel. Yet they rose, slapped the dirt off their pants, wiped the mud from their faces, and went back to work, while no one believed in them. (No, you didn't.)

The Amazins went from amazingly bad to alarmingly good. And though you'd love to see them squeeze into the playoffs, they have somehow made this season a thrill, even if they don't ultimately get there. The biggest hurdle before the Mets wasn't the Nats or Cubs or Phillies, but rather the life-sapping energy it took for them to get here. Most clubs go on 15-1 tears after the All-Star Game and pad a lead, giving them room for a slump. The Mets went 27-10 just to get noticed. This is their fault, of course, for losing games to the Marlins and other lower-rung franchises. 

But digging out of that deep hole speaks to the team's stubbornness, if not their character. We chided Mickey Callaway for his endless bromides about being better each day, and believing in his players, and never giving up. Maybe Mickey was right. These moribund Mets have now become the Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil Mets, the late-summer story of the season.  

We know the Mets aren't the Yankees. But just being these Mets has been surprisingly festive and competitive, and memorable. Even if they don't finish the job they started in July, the ride has been rather Amazin'.  

Follow Jason on Twitter: @JasonKeidel