Dan's Dugout: Are 2016 Mets Destiny's Darlings Again? • Latino Sports


Dan’s Dugout: Are 2016 Mets Destiny’s Darlings Again?


NEW YORK — Good teams find ways to win. Bad teams find ways to lose.

The New York Mets, whose injury list almost exceeds the roster, fall into the first category. With so many serious injuries, there’s no way they should be contending for anything October vacation reservations.

Yet here they are, hanging onto the National League’s second wild-card berth like Grim Death.

This column’s pre-season pick to be world champions, the Mets have fallen faster than the countries of southeast Asia during the heyday of the domino theory.

Mets have managed without Matt Harvey. Credit: Bill Menzel

Mets have managed without Matt Harvey.
Credit: Bill Menzel

Erstwhile ace Matt Harvey is down for the count with thoracic outlet syndrome. Steven Matz, the promising rookie southpaw who surfaced late last summer, has a bad shoulder. Jacob deGrom’s forearm is so bad that he’ll probably return as a relief pitcher. Both deGrom and ace-by-default Noah Syndergaard have elbow bone spurs that have to impede their ability.

Every fifth day, Chris Christie squeezes into the largest Mets uniform ever created and calls himself Bartolo Colon. At least his pitching is more popular on the east side of the Hudson than his management of traffic on the west side. The M*A*S*H list doesn’t stop with the pitchers.

Slugging infielders David Wright, the team captain, and Lucas Duda, the team’s top power threat, have been AWOL for months. Neil Walker, who picked up the power slack, is out for the duration after back surgery. Also sidelined are Walker backup Wilmer Flores, whose foolish head-first slide last week caused a neck contusion, and Juan Lagares, by far the team’s best centerfielder.

Oh, and did we mention that cleanup man Yoenis Cespedes, who runs hot and cold anyway, is playing with a back injured when he crashed into the outfield wall in hot pursuit of an uncatchable ball way back

Yoenis Cespedes has been a key player for the homer-happy Mets

Yoenis Cespedes has been a key player for the homer-happy Mets

in April?

Travis d’Arnaud, the catcher, has had more downs than ups — at bat and on the disabled list — and may have lost his job to Rene Rivera, a far better thrower.

But this team never cries “Woe is Me.” Destiny’s Darlings don’t do that.

Instead, the Mets keep rolling, realizing impossible dreams every day. T.J. Rivera, no relations to Rene, comes up from Las Vegas and beats Washington with a 10th-inning home run against Mark Melancon, a gifted closer.

Robert Gsellman, one of several newcomers with names Ralph Kiner would have loved, copied deGrom’s Samson haircut and enjoyed similar success. Fellow starter Seth Lego, long-forgotten in preseason plans, also became Superman in the majors after being Clark Kent in the minors.

Even when games seem lost, the Mets pull rabbits out of their hats. Other teams load the bases but bang into double-plays. The Mets load the bases and get grand-slams. Pinch-hitters like Kelly Johnson, a bust with his hometown Braves, thrive in orange-and-blue. Able to play anything but the bass fiddle, Johnson has provided both versatility and lefthanded power to a team that needed every one of his hits.

The Mets even have the schedule in their favor, spending this coming weekend against the Minnesota Twins, the worst team in baseball, while the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants — the NL’s only other wild-card contenders — play each other.

Somebody up there is a Mets fan. Or so it seems.

Looming on the horizon is the sudden-death game for wild-card honors. The Mets would face St. Louis or,

Madison Bumgarner will start the 2016 wild-card game for the Giants

Madison Bumgarner will start the 2016 wild-card game for the Giants

more likely, San Francisco. Which means Madison Bumgarner, already a postseason legend.

The Cardinals, like the Mets, rely on the home run but can’t match the Mets — especially in the bullpen. San Francisco also comes up short in the late innings.

Perhaps the Mets remember 2000, the year they played their only Subway Series. They were not the best team in their division — the Braves saw to that — but Atlanta drew a much better St. Louis team in the Division Series and allowed the Mets to advance all the way to the final round.

Terry Collins, on the verge of getting the ax earlier this year, now has a chance to be NL Manager of the Year. If his team comes anywhere close to the playoffs, he should be a shoo-in.


About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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