The Mets Are Going to the World Series

Please allow me my Bart Simpson chalkboard moment:


The Mets are going to the World Series after sweeping the Cubs on Wednesday night to claim the National League pennant. If you thought a minor plot point in a sci-fi movie was going to stop this Mets team, I’ve got a hoverboard to sell you. The Mets have played nine games in this postseason and won seven of them. They might be perfect if Chase Utley’s genetic composition wasn’t 80 percent dirt (or the umpires had acknowledged the manifestation of said dirt and made the right call).

The Mets are going to the World Series with the hottest hitter in playoff history. “Absurd” and “unreal” described Daniel Murphy’s performance four games ago. Words are no longer sufficient. He hit a homer in his sixth straight game last night, a playoff record. He’s spawned a simple yet remarkable conditional statement: IF the Mets are playing a baseball game, THEN Daniel Murphy will hit a home run. And while swinging for the fences each at-bat and delivering every five tries would be impressive enough, that’s not what Murphy’s doing. When’s he’s not yanking the ball out of the park, he’s smacking hits to the opposite field like he’s always done. Somehow, he’s only been walked once this postseason.

The power is new—he hit just 14 homers during the regular season, a career high—but he never lacked confidence in the batter’s box. In college, he didn’t even bother listing his defensive position during player introductions. “I’m Daniel Murphy from Jacksonville and I hit third,” he told his teammates. Of course, that quote also exemplifies why Murphy drives Mets fans nuts. Since his debut in 2008, he’s often looked like a major leaguer while holding a bat and a little leaguer without one. His own manager calls him Murphalicious and fans created a Murph-O-Meter to track the good and bad. Until the playoffs, it resembled a windshield wiper. I tabbed Murphy as my NLDS MVP before the playoffs started but admitted I thought he’d cost us a game. And yet, his play at second base has been stellar and he’s been a huge asset on the bases. We remember his bold dash to third against the sleeping Dodgers in Game 5, but don’t forget the seventh inning of Game 3 in Chicago: He beat out an infield single, took third on a single to left, and scored on a grounder to first. “Daniel Murphy, Heads Up Baserunner” is even harder to grasp than “Daniel Murphy, Babe Ruth Impersonator.” If you’re spending time and energy on whether he’ll be a Met next season, God bless you. That’s as far down on my Mets fandom priority list right now as whether I should get Blue Smoke or Shake Shack at Opening Day 2016.

The Mets are going to the World Series armed with perhaps the youngest and least experienced starting rotation in World Series history: Jacob deGrom (27 years old and 55 career games started), Matt Harvey (26 and 67), Noah Syndergaard (23 and 26), and Steven Matz (24 and 8). Be it the Royals or Blue Jays, the American League champion will not have faced a better bunch all season. Regardless of how you felt about the pitch counts and extra days of rest and skipped starts during the regular season, you have to admit the plan is paying off. The starters look as good as they have all year and, for the most part, have gotten stronger as each game progresses.

The Mets are going to the World Series and only Curtis Granderson has been there before. He went in 2006 with Detroit and did not face the Mets. Grandy is one of just seven players on the postseason roster who had been to the playoffs before this season. Only David Wright, who got 10 games in ’06, had been there with the Mets. The more rewarding aspect of the roster is how it was constructed. No playoff team this year had more homegrown players than the Mets (15):

That total doesn’t include Syndergaard or catcher Travis d’Arnaud, who arrived via trade but have never played for another major league team. In other words, they’re “ours.” In the starting lineup, only well-travelled outfielders Granderson and Yoenis Cespedes made their initial mark elsewhere; same for a few relievers.

The Mets are going to the World Series and you can take any talk of their unimpressive regular season record in a weak division and shove it. The Mets acquired Cespedes and went 36-17 until they clinched. They finished 90-72. Their trajectory was just like Toronto’s, which had to keep its foot on the gas pedal a bit longer and finished with three more wins. Nobody was or is calling the Blue Jays a fluke. I’d eat a pickle and banana sandwich before I’d disparage the 2000 Mets, but that team overachieved. No team should reasonably expect to make the World Series, but this version of the Mets is the real deal. Murphy stole the talents of Hall of Famers, Space Jam-style, and Granderson has been a better version of his regular reason renaissance, but the rest of the lineup has been just OK. The pitching is what separates this club. The Mets match aces with anyone and deploy a couple more once the opposition has run out. Closer Jeurys Familia pitched to a 1.85 ERA in the regular season and, in 9.2 playoff innings, has allowed two singles, two walks, and no runs.

The Mets are going to the World Series despite their fans’ nervousness throughout the playoffs. The Dodgers series was intense. But the NLCS was surprisingly light on stress. The Mets never trailed in the four-game sweep. They scored in the first inning in each of the last three games, totaling eight runs. For a fan base built on miracles and believing, we’re extremely cautious. We preferred the Cardinals in the NLCS—the Yankees of the National League and the franchise that crushed our dreams the last time we made it that far!—over the team that had not won a World Series in more than 100 years. “Ya Gotta Believe,” up until this moment, was more of an interrogative sentence than an imperative one (I see you, middle school English teachers).

The Mets are going to the World Series and thus four wins away from producing the greatest commemorative DVD in baseball history. The scene I’d enjoy the most would have you believe the video belonged in the Fantasy section, not Sports or Documentary. I’m not talking about Daniel Murphy’s unprecedented home run binge or the three straight comeback wins in Washington in September. I’m talking about the time an uninjured player cried on the field during a game. As much attention as that plot twist received, it can’t be overstated. A player (Wilmer Flores) wanted to remain a Met so much that he was moved to tears when he thought he no longer was. Two nights later he hit a walk-off home run in a critical game. What do DVDs go for these days, $20? That would be a steal for the 2015 season recap video.

The Mets are going to the World Series so they might as well win it. With each progression through the playoffs, I’ve wanted it more. I think I could have survived a loss to the Dodgers or even the previously hot Cubs. But now that they’re four wins away, with this starting pitching, I’m dreaming big. Ya Gotta Believe. Let’s Go Mets. Feels good to say that this time of year, doesn’t it?

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