I watched the Mets play in the World Series. I’ve been thinking about that fact nonstop for two reasons: I’m amazed that the Mets made it and grateful that I got to witness it in person. I was there for Games 4 and 5 this past weekend, and before you call me a bad-luck charm, know that I was also at Game 3 of the NLDS and Game 1 of the NLCS, both Mets wins. I was at all of these games thanks to my dad. My mom asked me if I was glad I was there this weekend, despite the results. Of course. Of course. This was the World Series. If you’re afraid of having your spirit crushed, don’t watch sports.
I believed the Mets were going to win the series up until the Royals started tacking on runs in the top of the 12th of the decisive Game 5. Great starting pitching, which the Mets have, breeds that kind of confidence. That shouldn’t be confused with entitlement. If they could’ve held on in Game 5, they had deGrom going in Game 6 and Synder—STOP. You, alter ego, sound like a sore loser at best and delusional at worst. The reality: The Royals beat the Mets four out of five times.
So yes, Kansas City earned the trophy. Also, the Mets gave it away. Those two views are not mutually exclusive. The Mets made defensive miscues at the worst possible times in the World Series.* These were not tricky double plays not turned or diving attempts that resulted in doubles instead of outs. Show me someone getting paid to play baseball and I’ll show you a player who can field a slow roller or make an accurate 90-foot throw.
*I can’t say errors, because Duda was not charged with one on his throw home in Game 5. Cespedes didn’t have an official error all series.
Baseball games are never about one play and rarely even about one phase of the game. The Mets’ lack of offense accentuated the fielding gaffes or shaky pitching and vice versa, putting them in a position to make it seem like one play cost them Games 1, 4, and 5. The Royals made some critical errors, didn’t always get great pitching, and went through some offensive dry spells, too. We’re not talking about Eric Hosmer’s defense at first base because the Royals found a way to win four of the five games.
Think back a lifetime ago to Saturday morning, when the Mets were coming off a resounding win. The parallels to the franchise’s 1986 championship team were getting spooky—to say nothing of Strat-O-Matic’s simulations—from the run differentials in Games 1 through 3 to Conforto homering twice in Game 4. Then, in front of my very own eyes, it all fell apart. The Mets led in every World Series game and led going into the eighth or ninth in all but one. Alas, this is not Little League. The Royals led at the end of four of the five games. They are worthy champions.
Perhaps the Mets will follow their path. The Royals won the World Series 30 years after their last title and one year after losing a heartbreaking series. While the Mets ’86 championship will have no impact on next year, perhaps the sting from this series will fuel them in some tangible way.
Or maybe the Mets will fade to a non-playoff team. It’s hard to imagine with their starting pitching, but there are no guarantees in baseball. We certainly thought the Mets’ 2006 playoff run was the start of something special, not the apex. Even if they do become postseason regulars, it’s not easy navigating the first two rounds to reach the World Series, yet alone win it.
While watching the late-inning collapses in person was less stressful than watching on TV, it didn’t help with the sting. I’m left trying to balance appreciation for an incredible season and knowing the Mets gave away a World Series title that may not present itself again any time soon. Frank Thomas tried to say the same thing, I think.
I’m going with gratitude for the 2015 Mets and optimism for the future, because it beats the alternatives. I took the photo below at Game 4. The stadium was full and the out-of-town scoreboard was empty. It was a beautiful sight.