Thursday, October 1, 2015

What You Can’t Make Up

Sheila York

I’m a Mets fan. It’s like being a writer. You spend time, love and hope on something that has every chance of breaking your heart. And it’s not like being a writer. In baseball, anybody with a keyboard or a cell phone and the talk show's number can declaim about you with the certainty of an expert. In writing, it’s anybody with a keyboard. 

But let’s get back to that time-love-hope thing. 

It’s been a long dry spell for a Mets fan. The last World Series they won – they’ve won only 2 in their 54 years of existence – was in 1986. They won a World Series in 1969, and lost in 1973 and 2000. And they got to what’s called postseason 3 other times, but not since 2006. (Of course, if you’re a Cubs fan, that sounds pretty good.) 

Then this summer, the team on which I have showered selfless affection through even the last several years of misery did more than I ever would have thought possible. 

The magical summer

In mid-July, the Mets were hanging on by their pitching staff’s fingernails to any chance at the postseason. Last Saturday night, they won the National League Eastern Division. 

They’re holding beer bottles because they sprayed
the champagne all over each other and the carpet.
I've never met a carpet I thought deserved champagne more than I did.
Photo credit: David Kohl/USA Today Sports

If you want to know how this happened, google Yoenis Cespedes Mets MiracleThis is the guy, after having launched another homer. Not sure what game. It happened a lot. 

Photo credit: Getty Images
On July 31, at the trading deadline – I mean, ten minutes before the 4pm ET deadline – the Mets announced they’d concluded a deal for Cespi (what we call him around our house). 

From that moment, the Mets went from 2 games behind in their division to win the East by 8.5 games over the experts’ favorite, the Washington Nationals. Google Papelbon Harper if you want to see what not living up to other peoples’ hype can do, and remember it when you’re tempted to say sports teaches teamwork. 

The Mets played .679 baseball. This means that in the last two months, they won more than 2 of every 3 games they played. Only one team in the majors (Toronto) won more in that stretch. 

My magical summer had one astonishing performance (please google Cespedes), but it was only possible because David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud came off the disabled list; the Mets acquired two solid bench players – Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson – and Tyler Clippard for the bullpen; and they called up Michael Conforto from the minors. The rest of the team managed to hang in before those guys arrived. 

It’s a story you couldn’t make up. Well, you could, but people would roll their eyes. 

I’d like to share my 3 favorite You Can’t Make This Stuff Up stories. 

David Wright is too good to be true. Talented, humble, mature. And the hardest-working gifted player you might ever see. Diagnosed early in the season with spinal stenosis, a rare condition in which the channel that contains the spinal nerves and spinal cord narrows, he was on the disabled list for most of the season, learning to treat the condition – it cannot be cured – all the while knowing he might never play again. And he came back. And in his first at-bat (see below), he hit a monster home run. Cue the exploding light stanchion. Our captain. 

Photo credit: Bill Streicher/US Today Sports

Jeurys Familia. My vote for team MVP. He’s the closer. This means he comes in in the ninth inning when things are bad, and makes sure the team wins. His best friend on the team, Jenrry Mejía, was last year’s closer. Then Jenrry tested positive (twice) for a banned steroid so old-school a breathalyzer could have found it (the winner in the "you couldn’t make up somebody this dumb" category). Jeurys filled the role with power and poise at a time (pre-Cespi) when if the Mets scored 2 runs, it was a bonanza. He has saved 42 games. 

Photo credit: Brad Penner/USA Today Sports
Wilmer Flores. He’d never known any other team than the Mets, with whom he signed on as a minor leaguer when he was 16. Rumors hit social media on July 29 that he’d been traded so the Mets could get a bigger bat. The Mets front office wins the “clueless about social media” award for not realizing such a thing could be leaked and spread. Wilmer found out from fans in the stands. He was captured on TV wiping tears from his eyes while on the field. The trade fell through. And on July 31, the day they got Cespi, Wilmer hit the game-winning homer into the night sky in extra innings, and flew home clutching the Mets logo on his chest. 

Photo credit: Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The stuff you can’t make up has made up for a lot.

Copyright 2015 Sheila York


  1. Mets Fan -... but who are you???? tjstraw

  2. Well, I read this several times - but no name.. then, voila, as soon as my comment appeared, Sheila, your name came on the screen.!

    1. I've modified the post to add my name at the top.