What do the following statements have in common:
- George W. Bush was POTUS.
- Bryce Harper was in middle school.
- Pirates of the Caribbean was the top grossing movie at the box office.
- Twitter debuts to the world
- Citi Field was in infancy stages of construction
Answer: All of these things were in 2006, which was also the last time the New York Mets made the postseason.
Fast Forward to 2015. George Bush is enjoying his retirement, Bryce Harper is one of the biggest stars in Major League Baseball, Twitter is ingrained in American lexicon……….and the New York Mets are back in the playoffs.
Low expectations going into the season, the New York Mets stunned the baseball world, upsetting the World-Series favored Washington Nationals to win the NL East for the first time in nearly 10 years. What worked in the Mets favor this year?
Perhaps the major turning point for the Mets, the point when they really took off, came on August 24. The Mets were 67-56 at the time and in a dogfight with the Nationals for the division. They had gone most of the season without their team captain, 3B David Wright (Chesapeake)-who had been out since mid-April with a strained right hamstring, and later diagnosed with what was thought to be career threatening spinal stenosis-but pressed on with a solid nucleus of a lineup in Cespedes, Flores, Duda. On 8/24, Wright made his triumphant return to the Mets. Just the fact that he returned was an inspiration to the teammates that he rejoined, but for good measure, Wright delivered at the plate as well, clubbing one of a team record 7 homeruns in a Mets 16-7 win over the Phillies. Including that win, the Mets took off, winning 21 of their next 32 games, to pull away and bring the road to the 2015 World Series through Citi Field for the first time.
While Wright provided a real inspiration to the Mets for their stretch run, also contributing such intangibles and leadership was veteran OF Michael Cuddyer (Chesapeake). Cuddyer signed a 2-yr contract with the Mets in the offseason, relishing the opportunity to join fellow Hampton Roads-native Wright in a shot at a ring. While he has had some production as a regular, he has also dealt with a knee injury that eventually landed him on the DL. His injuries cleared the path for the emergence of others, but upon his return, the Mets wanted to use him in a platoon role. He accepted that role, which would give him playing time in the OF and at 1B, as well as pinch-hitting duties. Now relegated to a bench role, Cuddyer is hitting .455 over is last 7 games (albeit only 11 AB). Cuddyer’s experience will be extremely valuable to the Mets next week, when the playoffs start. This will be Cuddyer’s 7th postseason.
The New York Mets won the World Series twice, in 1969 and 1986. Two of the greatest ballplayers to ever come out of Virginia could be part of a 3rd title for the Amazins.