A called third strike on a back-breaking curve. A season-ending collapse. Another collapse. Luis Castillo‘s drop. Oliver Perez. Four straight losing seasons and the possibility of a fifth. All of these things among many others have made the past few years difficult to be a Mets fan. While things have not been pretty of late, the All-Star break will allow Met fans to see that there is hope for this team coming, and there is light at the end of the tunnel.
For one, as we all know, the All-Star Game and its many festivities are being held at Citi Field. While many fans are just happy that the Mid-Summer Classic is being held in their home ballpark in New York, it is more than just that. The weekend finally gets to showcase the fact the Citi Field is one of the top places to play and watch a game in the league. The venue will rightfully be on the national stage, and for those who don’t get to see the park in Flushing all that often, they will this All-Star break. From the food to the amenities, Citi Field will be in the limelight, something it really hasn’t been in since it opened in 2009.
Not only is the park going to be in the public eye, but so are the players, and the Mets have some players that are participating this year that they can truly be proud of as they go forward.
Starting with the Futures Game, the Mets have three prospects participating in the competition. Pitchers Noah Syndergaard (for the U.S. squad) and Rafael Montero (for the World team) will be pitching against each other, which is something pretty special. The two young arms are two of the prized farm-hands in the Mets system. For those who don’t know, Syndergaard was acquired in the R.A. Dickey trade, along with Travis D’Arnaud, John Buck, and Wuilmer Becerra. This year in the Mets farm system, Syndergaard has been incredible. After striking out 64 batters in 63.1 innings of work in St. Lucie, Syndergaard was called up to Double A Binghamton. In his three starts, he’s 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA with 23 punchouts in 18 innings.
Montero started out with the Binghamton Mets and dominated the Eastern League. He compiled a 7-3 record, with a 2.43 ERA, and struck out 72 hitters in 66.2 innings work. He also kept hitters to a lowly .204 batting average before earning a promotion to the Triple A club in Las Vegas. While his numbers have not been as good since moving up, Las Vegas is known to inflate pitcher’s numbers.
The third player participating in the game is outfielder Brandon Nimmo. Nimmo, a Wyoming native, was the first draft pick taken during the reign of Sandy Alderson. Many called it a gutsy pick by the Mets as Nimmo did not play high school baseball (since it doesn’t exist in Wyoming). Instead, he played for his area’s Legion team. While he’s struggled at the dish the past two months, his April shows that he can be the productive outfielder the Mets selected. He’s currently hitting .261 but owns an impressive .368 OBP, something that I’m sure the Mets like to see.
While these three are the only ones from the Mets participating in this year’s Futures Game, it is only part of the young talent the Mets have in the wings, on the fringe of making it to the big leagues.
After the rookies get their shot at stardom, the next few days will feature the Home Run Derby and the actual All-Star Game. This year David Wright will be competing for the National League side, the second time he will be doing so. While some people believe his 2006 derby run messed up his swing in the second half of the season, David has matured since then, and probably will understand how to not over swing. Regardless, if he puts on a show like he did in Pittsburgh, it will be an amazing experience.
For the big game, Wright will justifiably be starting at third base, while ace Matt Harvey has a chance to start the game on the mound. Harvey becomes only the fourth Met pitcher to be on the All-Star squad in his first full season. With the season he’s had, he deserves to start, especially in his home ballpark. He’s the face of a new rotation that could be one of the most dominant in the league in a few seasons.
While Met fans have suffered more than any fan should have to the past few seasons, the All Star Weekend shows that there is promise. From the Futures Game to the All-Star Game, Mets fans have a lot to look forward to – not only this weekend and early next week, but for the next few years.