Reflections From a Mets Fan


As a Mets fan since their hapless start in 1962, I have been with them through thick and thin -- a whole lot more thin years trying to slog through thick than the other way around.

I was, for example, with my father at the 1964 doubleheader with the Giants at Shea Stadium, which remains the longest doubleheader in baseball history. The second game went 23 innings. At one point Willie Mays was playing shortstop. The Mets had a triple play. The second game was the longest in time in major league history, seven hours, 23 minutes, and the doubleheader remains the longest ever at nine hours, 52 minutes. We were there to the end. Of course, the Mets lost both games.

There was the magic of 1969. I was at Shea for the first two games of the 1986 World Series and saw the Mets lose both, only to come back with an assist from Bill Buckner to win the World Series for a second time.

It is in the context of that more than a half century that I reflect on the last two nights, which were tough to take, but hardly unusual in Mets history. As we close the books on another baseball season, I have a few thoughts on what the Mets did during it, what happened in the World Series, and the future of our Amazins:

  • Before we get too upset at not winning the World Series, let us ask: Was there a Mets fan anywhere when the season began -- or in late July -- who wouldn't have been ecstatic with the team winning National League championship?

  • The better team won the Series. The Royals' batting order is clearly superior to that of the Mets. And the Kansas City relievers are fabulous -- at least when facing the Mets' batters.

  • Even so, the Mets could have and should have won Games 1, 4, and 5.

  • Matt Harvey pitched one of the great games in World Series history last night. I, like virtually every Met fan, wanted him to continue to pitch in the ninth inning and finish a shutout. There was no way that manager Terry Collins could take him out. But it clearly would have been better to have pulled him, and he certainly should have done so after the Dark Knight walked the first batter.

  • Collins may have made a greater mistake earlier in not replacing a player. When Yoenis Céspedes hit a ball off his knee with the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth, it was obvious that he could hardly walk, and he should have been replaced for the remainder of his at-bat. If that had been done, what happened in the ninth might not have mattered because the Mets might well have had a bigger lead.

  • It is absolutely certain that the Mets would not have been National League champions without Céspedes, but he was a liability in the World Series, misplaying two balls in the outfield that may have cost the Mets two games, and doing very little with his bat. Indeed, without Céspedes doing what he was doing in August, which sparked the batting of the whole team, the Mets reverted to being what they been before his arrival: a team with amazingly great starting pitching that was hard-pressed to put runs on the scoreboard.

  • Travis d'Arnaud is an excellent catcher and potentially a first-rate batter, but his inability to throw out runners stealing bases was the biggest reason the Mets lost the Series. If he can't improve in that area, the Mets may have to look elsewhere for a catcher.

  • The future for the team looks very bright, with by far the best young starting rotation in baseball and a budding star in Michael Conforto. But there are significant improvements that need to be made in the lineup. Major questions concern whether to resign Céspedes and Daniel Murphy. Murphy was Mr. Mid-October on a level not seen since the days of Reggie Jackson, but his fielding and lack of hitting in the Series proved to be another liability.
  • Nike's commercial in the 1996 Olympics saying "You don't win silver; you lose gold" is wrong. The Mets won silver, and it was a hell of an accomplishment that should leave us as fans very happy with the 2015 season.
  • {Robert S. McElvaine teaches history at Millsaps College and is currently completing a book on America in 1964 and a novel.}

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