Forgive me if I sound uncharacteristically upbeat these days. You see, sports wise, New York has suffered a great deal these past few wintry, tortured months. But there appears to be a glimmer of hope on the horizon.
To summarize, the pathetic Knicks have mercifully completed the worst season in their hallowed history. Which is quite an accomplishment considering they are well-versed in the fine art of losing. The Brooklyn Nets, though playoff bound, have without a doubt benefited greatly from participating in the putrid Eastern Conference of the NBA. I don’t see them going very deep into the playoffs and no one else does either. The Jets and Giants were so inept they’ll both be picking in the top ten of the upcoming NFL Draft in less than two weeks. Oh, and by the way, it will be held in Chicago of all places. The Yankees are led by their steroid-laced, prodigal son Alex Rodriguez. Their past two seasons have been highlighted by the loss of two first ballot Hall of Famers.
The Rangers and Islanders have made the NHL’s postseason with the former winning the President’s Trophy as the team with the best record in the 2014-15 regular season. But EVERYONE seems to get to the playoffs in the NHL and New York is not exactly known as a hockey town.
Into this cesspool have ventured the New York Metropolitans, who ironically play their home games in a section of Queens appropriately called Flushing. Long the butt of late-night talk show hosts’ jokes, New York’s National League representative has supplied the David Lettermans and Jay Lenos of the world with a decade’s long wealth of comedic material. And this season had the potential to bring more of the same agony to long suffering Mets fans, if you listened to the so-called experts during the preseason. But something has happened to my beloved Mets on the way to the latrine. They somehow have defied the “curse of the swirl.”
Pitcher Matt Harvey, their All-Star starting ace who tragically was lost to Tommy John surgery in 2013, has returned to the bump as if he’d never left. He’s brought his swagger back to make this squad must-watch television whenever he takes the mound. Right-hander Jacob deGrom, the reigning Rookie of the Year, emerged practically out of nowhere to add depth behind Bartolo Colon and Zack Wheeler in the pitching rotation last season. His consistency and poise has been a sight to behold since his call up to the show last May. Left-handed first baseman Lucas Duda, a gentle giant with prodigious power to all fields and an inability to hit left-handed pitching, has blossomed into one of the National League’s most fearsome sluggers. It is astounding now to think the organization was called to task by many for choosing Duda over the incumbent Ike Davis, who was eventually traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Juan Lagares, the National League Gold Glover in centerfield last year, has solidified the middle of the defense while reminding this writer of the former Atlanta Braves’ CF Andrew Jones. No small feat indeed.
Catcher Travis d’Arnaud, part of the package acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays in the R.J. Dickey trade along with top prospect RHP Noah Syndergaard, has exhibited a better than expected defensive prowess since his call up to Queens in August of 2013. But this season he has been on fire at the plate, giving the team much needed offense. RHP Bartolo Colon, the rotund, 41- year old has defied Father Time to become the first pitcher in MLB to win three games this season. Closer Jeurys Familia shares the lead in saves with Jason Grilli of Atlanta with five. And Left fielder Michael Cuddyer, acquired during the off season, has brought veteran leadership and steady, consistent professional hitting to the plate.
All this despite the fact they’ve lost two closers (Bobby Parnell and Jenrry Mejia), their #2 starting pitcher (Zack Wheeler), and their starting 3rd baseman and captain (David Wright). There also is no shortstop to speak of, according to the pundits, as the player currently residing there, Wilmer Flores, hasn’t exactly brought back memories of Rey Ordonez with the glove. The 2nd baseman, Daniel Murphy, has no power, can’t hit .300, can’t steal bases, has hamstring issues, and makes Wilmer Flores look like a Gold Glove infielder. Right fielder Curtis Granderson, acquired to supply power to the middle of the batting order, is now leading off. At least he knows how to work out a walk.
Lastly, Manager Terry Collins has been hitting on all cylinders despite some eyebrow-raising lineup decisions. And, despite some hard luck, has led this team to the top of the NL East with an 8-3 record. So far this mix has paid off handsomely for this much-maligned organization and the fans have been dusting off their Mets gear and turned out to Citi Field in droves. The buzz has been palpable and even the geniuses on the MLB Network and ESPN have had no recourse but to acknowledge it. Who would have thought the Mets would be capable of eliciting such optimism from the cynical, Yankee-loving, New York baseball fan? But it’s here and, though it’s only a few weeks and may not even last til next month, they’ve brought the warmth of spring to a battered but not broken Gotham. Dare I say it? You betcha. Lets go Mets!