The greatest collapses in human history include the Romans, the Ancient Egyptians, Blockbuster when they decided not to buy Netflix, and the 2007 New York Mets. The 2021 Mets, however, are not among them.
I can understand why many will look at this year as a collapse. To me, a collapse needs to fall from a higher place. The team was never securely in first place. Even when they seemed to have a stranglehold on it for months, the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies were always lurking.
Instead of a collapse, we should look at this season as a reality check. Their weaknesses caught up with them. What was going so well early on ran out.
The 2021 Mets didn’t collapse, they never had enough
Historians will study the 2021 Mets for centuries. Or maybe it’ll just be Mets bloggers for another few months. Either way, we’re going to have time to reflect on what happened to this club.
In case you forgot, the Mets were performing miracles early on this season. On the backs of Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, and Taijuan Walker, they were somehow winning games with a below-average offense and a patchwork starting rotation.
The moment they could no longer rely on those three to pitch insanely well was the time when everything seemed to fall apart. The club was exposed. We watched on like voyeurs as things only seemed to get worse.
The line of demarcation really did come at the All-Star Break. Their poor play against the Pittsburgh Pirates opened up the floodgates. An injury to deGrom paired with the fall of Walker made their stay in first place impossible to maintain. It didn’t take long for them to drop to second place. Not much after, they were in third.
This 2021 team was a much more talented one on paper than anywhere else. Their performance, even when the standings suggested otherwise, never did match up with the cream of the crop in the league. Even with the understanding that offense struggled around baseball, particularly early on, the Mets were a weak team nobody had much business fearing.
The silver lining to this Mets season: it’s just one year
Learning from your mistakes is one of the most important virtues in life. I know when my wife says “leave me alone” that I know it means to go to a different room, maybe even change states for a little bit. I learned it the hard way just as the Mets will need to let reality sink in for them.
An understanding of exactly what they are is key for the club to have a positive takeaway from this year. And we all know how much they like to focus on the positive. Their most troubling moments of the season had a uniquely positive spin postgame from the players and manager. Rarely were they ever willing to admit the truth: the season wasn’t going the way they planned.
The Mets are not in a bad situation. They have money to spend, talented players under control, and a lot of nice-looking prospects nearing the big leagues in the next two seasons. It’s a favorable scenario. They just can’t get too complacent.
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While some fans will continue to view this year as a collapse, I find it insulting to the 2007 season and even the 2008 campaign. Those were years when the Mets were much closer to glory. This year, they were playing in a fictional reality for far too long.