Meet the Mets. The other New York Baseball team. New York’s version of the Clippers.The Mets have won two World Series over their tenure as a franchise, but their brand name has mostly been synonymous with mediocrity, losing and misfortune. When you think of the Yankees, the names Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, DiMaggio and Jeter roll off the tongue with honor and fame. When you start your list of famous Mets players, the task becomes as hard as finding words that rhyme with the word hungry. The Mets finally have a superstar in Matt Harvey, who this year has emerged as one of baseball’s best pitchers. However, once again, it looks like this cursed team has been hit with another curveball from which they might not recover.
Harvey has taken Major League Baseball by storm. After being called up from the minors last year, he showed signs of greatness at the end of the season. He represented the Mets best prospect since Sidd Finch (See Sports Illustrated’s 1985 April Fools Day hoax). Just like Finch, hitters feel like Harvey throws the ball 168 miles per hour. His off-speed stuff is devastating and breaking pitches make batters want to crawl back to their dugout like Lindsay Lohan after a night on the town. He has taken the torch from David Wright as the face of the Mets franchise, but with this torch comes some intangible misfortune, and it looks like it is taking place.
Matt Harvey has recently been diagnosed with a torn ligament in his right elbow and we all know what famous pitching surgery is to follow. Yes, you add another pitcher to the Tommy John Club. Now some pitchers have underwent Tommy John surgery and come back for the better. Stephen Strasberg experienced this same process and has returned successfully to the big leagues. Whether or not he can now live up to his hype remains to be seen. Bottom Line, surgery is never a good thing or something that players look forward to. This sad stroke of bad luck to this young phenom is nothing knew to the Mets and their fans. They are used to injuries, missed opportunities, and misery.
You would think in the New York market, the Mets would have the finances to bolster a roster worthy of an annual contender. Sure the Yankees might get the big fish, but there are truly plenty of fish in the sea. The problem is that the fish the Mets have gone after have been poor ones. Players like Bobby Bonilla, Mo Vaughn, Oliver Perez are prime examples of free agents who were hot that never panned out. We cannot forget about Carlos Delgado, Livan Hernandez, Tom Glavine or Kaz Matsui. The two biggest ones recently were Johan Santana and Carlos Beltran.
Let’s look at Beltran. Beltran had one of the best playoff runs in baseball history to score himself one of the most lucrative contracts in baseball history, and the Mets were supposed to be the winners. I think not. Beltran played out his contract with mediocre season after mediocre season, with the Mets losing season after season. The ironic part is that during the past two years Beltran is playing some of his best baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals as they contend for the World Series. Maybe it’s just the Cardinals and their winning aura. I propose it is just as much the Cubs-like atmosphere that exists in the heart of Queens. After being freed from the Mets, Beltran is playing like that guy we saw in the playoffs for the Astros.
Santana was the pitching version of Beltran. After many successful seasons playing for the small-market Minnesota Twins, Santana was traded to the Mets and eventually signed a 6-year, $137 million contract. Just like Beltran, he has pitched okay in his regime with the Mets, but nowhere near his form in Minnesota where he earned himself two Cy Young awards. Injuries have been a part of his Mets story, too. He missed the entire 2011 season with shoulder problems. However, last year, Santana became the first Mets pitcher to ever throw a no-hitter. The lack of a no-hitter had been hanging over the franchise for years like a World Series win for those Cubs. He threw a career-high 134 pitches, and some would say that this became the indirect cause of re-injuring his shoulder. He missed the end of last season and all of this season with that shoulder problem, and now Harvey looks to join this infamous club.
Here are some other fun facts about the Mets to add to their infamous list of accomplishments. Most historians are privy to the 1962 Mets. They are the team that a team is compared to when they are having an amazingly poor season. They finished a whopping 40-120, which to this day is the worst every record by a baseball team. Most people are not aware that the New York Mets opted to take Steve Chilcott instead of Reggie Jackson in the 1966 amateur draft. Chilcott never made it to the majors and Jackson, well, he has a month nicknamed after him. Sure there were the Miracle Mets and the 1986 Mets that made Bill Buckner infamous, but this is not commonplace knowledge to the modern-day baseball fan. Most fans associate the New York Mets with injuries, poor choices and apathy.
Just like Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, the New York Mets have had their money stolen by players who have not panned out. And like the Ponzi scheme, it has had a lingering effect on the franchise. A successful baseball season seems to be the exception, not the rule these days. There is no more Mike Piazza. Shea Stadium is gone and has been replaced by Citi Field, but it is too easy to say what that sponsor’s name really sounds like. The Braves-Mets rivalry is no more. Wright is good, but always hurt. Harvey was supposed to take the organization back to the top. He even started the All-Star game this year, which took play at Citi Field presenting some optimism for Mets fans. Unfortunately, with Harvey’s injury, it looks like Mets have once again fallen victim to their own puddle of bad luck. It is sad, but this sports fan accepts it as ordinary for the New York Mets franchise. Change is hard, but for the Mets sake, I hope it happens soon. Best of luck, I guess.
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