The Day, The Aura, Changed

By Rich Sparago

With respect to Don McLean’s iconic line from American Pie (“the day, the music, died”), the title of this article seems to apply to June 18th, 2013 for Mets fans. It’s not hard to notice that the Mets have been shrouded in negative energy for the last three years. An all-star shortstop leaves, an all-star right-fielder is traded, payroll and attendance go down, and apathy goes up. Through it all, the General Manager talks about his “plan”, a plan that bears no apparent fruit, further agitating the faithful. But if it can all change in one day, it did.

Jun 18, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler (45) throws a pitch against the Atlanta Braves in the second inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, June 18th, the Mets played a double-header in Atlanta, a place that represents a horror movie on a tape loop for them. The Mets started Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, their two best pitching prospects, the latter making his major-league debut. The Mets swept that double-header, but that was as inconsequential as two wins could be. The two young pitchers didn’t just win those games, they dominated. They dominated in a way that the figuratively said, “You see, this is the beginning. We weren’t kidding.” Mets fans had waited in eager anticipation for this day, and they weren’t disappointed. The tone among the fans changed from skepticism to belief. The “plan”, though far from complete, began to make sense. The fans, though far from happy, became intrigued.

Something else happened on June 18th. Two days earlier, Sandy Alderson had talked about bringing in new faces, some new talent to help address the abysmal performance on the field. On the same day that his two young pitchers did their work, Alderson made good on his words. He brought in Eric Young Jr., adding a potential lead off hitter and desperately needed speed to the team. Alderson also brought up Andrew Brown, who deserves a shot after tearing up AAA. Were these moves the big ones, that will launch the Mets into contention? No. But Alderson was true to his word. He did improve the team, via the means available to him at this point of the season. He proved to the fans that he’s sick of losing too. He also gave the fans a reason to trust him, something that may not have been widely in place.

June 18th, 2013 may not have been the day that Mets turned the corner to contention. That day may come this off-season. It may never come. We just don’t know. But one thing is certain. There’s a palpably new aura surrounding the Mets today. It’s a good aura. And it’s about time.

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