Let’s wind the clock back one year. On June 14, 2013, the Chicago Cubs came to Citi Field for a three-game series. The Mets lost the first two games of that series, and were on their way to being swept. Then, on Father’s Day, in the bottom of the ninth of last game of the series, Kirk Nieuwenhuis blasted a home run off the Pepsi Porch to give the Mets an unlikely win. The next night, the Mets lost a heartbreaker in Atlanta when Dillon Gee had a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the ninth. He surrendered a two-run, walk-off home run, and it seemed like the Mets would be permanently mired in the abyss.
However, the next day, June 18, became known as “Super Tuesday.” That’s because Zack Wheeler was to make his first start, after the “Super Two” deadline had passed. As it happened, Super Tuesday was a day/night doubleheader necessitated by a rain out earlier in the season. Matt Harvey started game one, and Wheeler started the nightcap. The Mets swept the double dip, with both young pitchers looking strong. That night, the Mets acquired Eric Young, Jr. In 24 hours, the Mets had won two games, showed a glimpse of the pitching on which the organization was pinning its hopes, and brought in a leadoff hitter.
Dec 10, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA; New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson talks with reporters during the MLB Winter Meetings at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports
From June 18 through the rest of the season, the Mets played .500 baseball. That may not sound like much, but the team had been 10 games below .500 prior to Super Tuesday. There was a sense of hope amongst the faithful. The team was respectable, and the All-Star Game was soon to be played at Citi Field. More young arms were on the way. We knew that 2013 wasn’t “the year,” but that special year was at least visible down the road.
Now we are at the same chronological point of the 2014 season. The hope referenced above has palpably vanished. Citi Field is a ghost town night after night. Though the team spent money last off-season, the payroll is at an unacceptable $84 million. The results (29-36 as of this writing) are not good.
Matt Harvey, half of last year’s Super Tuesday, is likely out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Wheeler has been inconsistent. Another of the young arms, Rafael Montero, struggled in a stint with the Mets and has been sent back to Triple-A. Noah Syndergaard, the team’s most heralded prospect, has not dominated Triple-A as expected, and is currently on the minor league DL with an injury to his non-throwing arm.
Something needs to happen. Whether it’s Syndergaard’s promotion, a trade (the Diamondbacks are shopping their shortstops), or some other event (further changes in the coaching/managing staff), the fans need a jolt.
We need something to point to, something that will tell us, “they’re trying, we have reason to hope.” Maybe that hope will come upon the return of Matt Harvey in 2015. Maybe it will come via an off-season trade, or major free agent signing (though the Mets may lose even more fans by then).
If you’re watching the games, following along on Twitter, and/or reading the newspapers and blogs, you know that the situation around the Mets is bad. Apathy is setting in, or has set in. Apathy is the worst possible scenario for any sports team. What would end the apathy?
Another Super Tuesday.