My nightmare is a Red Sox-Mets World Series because someone has to win. Luckily, when that actually did happen in 1986, I wasn’t even a month old. My second possible nightmare is the Red Sox or Mets being in the World Series at all. I had to go through this in 2004, 2007 and 2013 and now I have to go through it again this season.
Craig Carton of WFAN always had “Mets Fans for Yankees” when the Mets’ season would end at the end of the regular season and the Yankees would be going to the playoffs. I never believed anyone who really loves either team could root for the other team using the excuse of “it’s still New York.” (The only acceptable time for me personally to root for the Mets would be if they played the Red Sox in the World Series.) So here I am entering the 2015 World Series as a Yankees fan for Royals.
It’s incredible that as early as Saturday the Mets could be champions and it’s a scary idea because of how much would change and I’m not someone who likes change when it comes to baseball. Some things shouldn’t change, like the Cubs being perennial losers without a championship since 1908 and without a World Series appearance since 1954, or the Mets having the stink of all their losing seasons, collapses and horrible organizational decisions. The Red Sox ending their drought in 2004 and the White Sox doing the same in 2005 was enough. I don’t need the Mets erasing everything I have ever know about them.
It still doesn’t seem real that the Mets are even in this spot. I didn’t think they had a chance to be here when they showed off their dominant pitching early on with that 11-game winning streak in April (that the Yankees ended by hitting bombs off of Jacob deGrom). I didn’t think they had a chance when they were 36-37 on June 24. I didn’t think they had a chance when Clayton Kershaw nearly threw a perfect game against them at Citi Field on July 23 against a lineup that had John Mayberry Jr. hitting fourth and Eric Campbell hitting fifth. But then the Mets trade of Wilmer Flores for Carlos Gomez fell through, they traded for Yoenis Cespedes instead and Cespedes went on to be Manny Ramirez post-2008 trade deadline, and Flores, still with the Mets, continued to get big hit after big hit.
I still didn’t think they had a chance when they swept the Nationals on the weekend of the trade deadline to tie them atop the division. I didn’t think they had a chance even as their division lead grew up 6.5 games at the end of August. I didn’t think they had a chance when David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud returned and suddenly the team that would just score a run a series was suddenly one of the best offenses in baseball. I didn’t think they had a chance even as they kept on winning in September and the Nationals kept on losing. I didn’t think they had a chance when they clinched the division or when they drew Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and the Dodgers in the NLDS. I didn’t think they had a chance when Kershaw sent the series back to Los Angeles for Game 5 or when the Dodgers’ offense jumped on deGrom early in that Game 5.
But then Daniel Murphy took third when no one on the Dodgers covered it on the shift, Andre Ethier caught a foul ball he should have let fall and the series was over. Then they beat Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta, won a game on a wild pitch on a strikeout and tacked on another year to the Cubs’ historic losing streak. And now here they are in the World Series. The Mets are in the World Series. I think I could type that sentence over and over from now until Game 1 and I still wouldn’t believe it even as the series is being publicized everywhere I turn and there are a lot of perfectly clean (aka brand new) Mets hats being worn around the city.
Before the Yankee Stadium portion of the Subway Series, I wrote The Mets and Their Fans Will Always Be the Little Brother and the Yankees went on to take two out of three. After the Citi Field portion of the Subway Series, in which the Yankees also took two out of three, I wrote:
When I woke up on Monday morning, I expected the city to be different since the Mets had apparently taken it back despite losing both legs of the Subway Series and watching their franchise ace come out of a game after five innings on Sunday Night Baseball. I thought I would get an email or a phone call to let me know the Mets had taken back the city, but I got nothing. The Mets and their fans are still and always will be the little brother.
I don’t think the Mets beating the Royals and winning the World Series will erase “the little brother” tag from the Mets or that they will “take back the city” (whatever that even means) from the Yankees. But a Mets championship, their first in 29 years, would add an unneeded wrinkle to the Subway Series rivalry and that’s something I could live without.
The Mets overcame the Wilpons cheapness and scumminess, Terry Collins’ incompetence, Matt Harvey’s attitude and innings limit, another lengthy David Wright injury, the near disaster trade for Carlos Gomez, Kershaw, Greinke, Lester and Arrieta to get to this point. They have more then earned their right to be in the Fall Classic despite playing 57 regular-season games against the 71-91 Marlins, 67-95 Braves and 63-99 Phillies. They have a likable team with a dominant young starting rotation, an unlikely offensive hero and a veteran captain and face of the franchise playing in his first World Series and chasing the elusive championship. If the Mets were any other team, I would easily be rooting for them. But they’re not. They’re the Mets. And for the next four to seven games, I’m the biggest Royals fan there is.