A Game Of Runs

Any basketball fans in the house?

If you’re like me, (a Knicks fan) you’ve watched your team come out completely flat and fall way behind early in the game. If you’re a fan of another team (smart move) you’ve probably watched your team go on a run to erase the lead.

As fans, we have a few options. We could accept defeat and find something else to occupy our time. We could tune out and leave the game on, simply as background noise. Or, we can stay fully invested and try and will the team to victory.

Maybe it’s delusion. Maybe it’s stubbornness. I hate admitting that the game (summer) is over. Furthermore, I love watching my team forge a comeback.

On July 23, the Mets were tied with the Miami Marlins for the worst record in the National League. They were seven games out of a playoff spot. Playoffs?! The Mets were 8 games under .500.

First thing you want to do is take a timeout (All-Star break) and regroup. After the excitement of Pete Alonso in the Home Run Derby had subsided, the Mets traveled down to Miami and took two of 3 games. They went up to Minnesota and swept the slugging Twins in a two game set.

Then they went to San Francisco.

There is nothing worse then feeling like you’re on the verge of going on a run only for it to fall flat. The series against the Giants could best be described as a turnover which led to a three pointer on the other end. The Mets suffered three brutal extra inning losses and limped back home.

You never know when a run is coming. You could look back and make an educated guess what sparked it , but sports are unpredictable. You never know when a run is going to end, either. It’s best to just strap in and enjoy the ride.

After their horrendous trip to San Francisco, the Mets returned to Queens and took two of three from the Padres. The Pirates were next on their schedule and they swept them in dominating fashion.

There’s nothing better than a good comeback. It’s fascinating to watch your team gain momentum in real time. Suddenly, everything starts going your way. What was once a pipe dream is now a reachable goal.

When did you come back? Maybe you never left. Bravo. For a lot of fans it was in Chicago. The Mets swept the White Sox thanks to timely hitting and dominant pitching. The Mets had improved their record to only two games below .500 with their hot streak.

It was more than inspired play against subpar teams, though.

The Mets had decided not to sell at the trade deadline. (Ignore the salary dump of Jason Vargas.) They traded two prospects for Marcus Stroman in a move which shocked the baseball world. They were all-in. (Not really, but they were as close to all-in as the Mets get nowadays.)

Next up were the Pirates and Marlins.

Pittsburgh brought the Mets back to reality in the first game of their series with an 8-4 defeat. The resilient Mets bounced back, taking the next two games and then sweeping the Marlins in a 4 game series.

At that point, it officially became real. If the chase for the NL wildcard spot was a basketball game, the Mets had just converted a turnover into a transition slam dunk. The opposing team was forced to call a timeout as music blared from the speakers.

Sure, the Mets climb back to relevancy was on the collective backs of awful teams. Hey, very recently the Mets were a bad team. Regardless of who they beat, the Mets had put themselves back into contention. From seven games out to just a half game out.

You couldn’t ignore Friday night.

Many Met fans were still skeptical. They took a wait and see attitude as the Washington Nationals were coming to town. After falling behind in the opening game on two separate occasions, an inspired ninth inning rally gave the sellout Citi Field crowd a night they’ll never forget.

The good times kept rolling on Saturday. The Nationals took another early lead, but the Mets would not be denied. Another late rally had the Mets and it’s fans thinking anything was possible.

The Nationals took the series finale, but spirits were high. There was a playoff race and meaningful baseball ahead.

Above, I wrote how exciting it is watching your team forge a comeback. I forgot to mention how frustrating it could be.

Adrenaline and momentum can only carry you so far. It’s exhausting to mount a comeback.

The Mets don’t get blown out in 2019. The Amazin’s have had a realistic chance to win virtually every game they’ve played this year. There truly isn’t too much exaggeration in that statement. This season has been a roller coaster in every sense of the word.

It all caught up with them in Atlanta.

In oppressive 100 degree heat, the Braves knocked Zack Wheeler out of the game with hard hit balls all over the field. Met bats were quiet and the Braves took the opener rather convincingly. However, it should be said that the Mets did have opportunities. They never go quietly.

Now, what were we saying about runs potentially being frustrating?

After digging an early hole for themselves, the team must come together as a unit. Every play requires laser sharp focus as no mistakes can be made. It’s taxing to say the least. There’s nothing worse then fighting all the way back only to fall just short of taking the lead. What a letdown.

The Mets walked off the field in Atlanta that night. Jeff McNeil limped off. The NL’s leading hitter had strained his hamstring running to first base. It was announced the next day he would be going on the ten day Injured List.

Before we could fully process that news, the Mets were back on the field ready to play the second game of the series.

There are some losses that stay with you. They eat you up inside. This was one of them.

There was an asinine managerial decision by Mickey Callaway coupled with a bases loaded rally that fell just short. Suddenly, the Mets had lost three straight games.

These Mets fight.

A lesser team would have curled up into a ball after Wednesday night. Not the Mets. They torched Julio Teheran which led to the pitcher’s shortest outing of his career. Pete Alonso and Amed Rosario both had five hits, giving Marcus Stroman his first win as a Met. The Mets had salvaged a win in Atlanta, with the lowly Royals next on their calendar.

The victory did spark some negative discussions, unfortunately. Mickey Callaways in game decisions were again in question. The bullpen turned a 10-3 game into a 10-8 game.

Hey, a win is a win.

Amed Rosario is on the verge of truly breaking out. Pete Alonso is a legitimate star. Juan Lagares has made the most of his opportunity to play every day again. Wilson Ramos is hot.

That’s all great. The Mets have the best starting rotation in the National League. On any given day, any of their pitchers can beat you. That’s great too.

This team fights. At the end of the day, that’s what I’m banking on.

It’s truly remarkable that the Mets are in contention. That fact alone makes them a team worth watching the rest of the summer.

They say basketball is a game of runs. Baseball is literally a game of runs. (Ha ha.) Right now, the Mets have the ball down 3 points. They’ve scratched and clawed to get back in the game.


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