We imagine a scenario in which David Wright’s prediction of a Mets World Series victory this season comes true.
The Mets just won the World Series.
Shocked? I would be, too, if I didn’t just watch it happen from the Citi Field press box on this early November night. The Mets rebounded from a calamitous 2009 season and made the cynics look silly, as Jerry Manuel skippered his team to a wire-to-wire championship.
What can I say? Wright was right.
Game 7 was a classic, too. But before we relive the season’s stunning conclusion, let’s take a look at the wild series of events that led to the Mets’ third world title.
— April 5: Johan Santana makes a triumphant return from elbow surgery in a 4-1 victory over the Marlins on Opening Day. A sign of things to come. Another indication that the Mets aren’t goofing around anymore: Mr. Met’s happy-go-lucky grin is replaced by an icy glare and massive plug of chewing tobacco.
April 6: One day after going 0-for-6 in an 11-inning, season-opening loss to the Cubs, Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones announces his retirement. "I didn’t need 161 more games to tell me what I already know," he says. Mets issue a statement congratulating Jones; he’s a career .321 hitter against them.
April 8: Hanley Ramirez tweaks a hamstring during the Mets-Marlins series finale. Mets athletic trainers, emboldened by new badges sporting the "Prevention & Recovery" slogan, volunteer to help. Ramirez thinks about Jose Reyes for a moment and refuses treatment. Not wise. He misses six weeks.
May 1: Center fielder Carlos Beltran returns from knee surgery, making his season debut in an MLB on FOX game. He hits the decisive three-run homer to beat the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Mets up their lead in the National League East to four games. "To Jimmy Rollins: We are the team to beat," he tells our Ken Rosenthal. When told of Beltran’s boast, Rollins replies, “Yeah, I agree.”
May 9: A small hiccup. While grabbing the lineup card to make certain that he’s batting third for a game in San Francisco, Beltran sustains a paper cut. In his haste, he uses a Band-Aid bandage, instead of the Mets’ official brand. The Mets issue a statement, condemning the selfish act. "We would like to make clear that Carlos sought this radical treatment on his own," it says.
May 10: The Mets reconcile with their star. Beltran refers questions to his agent, Scott Boras. "As a statured player, Carlos has the right to seek the medical treatment of his choosing," Boras says. June 19: Jason Bay hits the decisive home run in a 5-3 Mets win at Yankee Stadium. Yankees left fielder Randy Winn goes 0-for-4 against Santana. The defending champs, now trailing the Red Sox and Rays, are booed at home. "Maybe," one Yankees official says, "we should have spent more money." A second Yankees exec adds, “I wish we were more like the Mets.”
June 24: Hard-throwing right-hander Jenrry Mejia is called up from Class AA and debuts with two scoreless innings against Detroit. Manuel reports to his news conference wearing a big smile. "I actually wanted him on the team coming out of spring training," Manuel says. "You know, that was back when I was worried about my job. A long time ago, huh?" He laughs. Everyone laughs.
June 25: Manuel receives three-year contract extension.
July 1: General manager Omar Minaya gets an extension, too.
July 5: The Mets haven’t had a single player on the disabled list. The "Prevention & Recovery" campaign has been a smashing success. Dr. Oz is so moved by the program that he joins the team as an honorary medical adviser.
July 6: Dr. Phil jumps on board, too.
July 7: And now Dr. Anthony Galea. He’s the Canadian who treated Reyes last year but is now under investigation. The Mets forgot to do a background check. What, you were expecting perfection?
July 11: David Wright enters the All-Star break with 18 home runs, proving to critics that he can still hit for power after all. "I’m not going to say I-told-you-so," Wright says, smiling, "but, yeah, this is pretty fantastic." July 31: The Mets acquire Roy Oswalt from the Astros for prospects Ike Davis and Reese Havens. Now, New York has one of the best 1-2 combos in baseball.
Aug. 1: Oliver Perez throws the first no-hitter in team history against the Diamondbacks.
Aug. 2: Jon Niese does Perez one better, tossing a perfecto in Atlanta. Niese was a candidate to move to the bullpen with the acquisition of Oswalt, but now Manuel doesn’t know what to do. "We have too much good pitching," the manager says. "I have never seen a problem like this before."
Aug. 21: Ex-Met Ryan Church, now with the Pirates, misses third base while attempting to score the tying run. The Mets appeal, and Church is called out. "I’ve never liked that guy more than I do right now," Manuel says.
Sept. 1: Chipper Jones comes back to the Braves as a September call-up. Mets counter by signing Carlos Delgado, Gary Sheffield and Julio Franco to pinch hit.
Sept. 8: Eric Bruntlett, now with the Nationals, lines out to Daniel Murphy, who promptly starts an unassisted triple play. Keith Hernandez declares Murphy the best defensive first baseman in Mets history. Sept. 26: Jeff Francoeur walks in the go-ahead run against the Phillies, and the Mets clinch the division. Francoeur leads the National League with 120 walks during the regular season – something of an increase over his 2009 total of 23. "I don’t know what happened," Frenchy says, when asked how he suddenly became the league’s most patient hitter. "I just started taking pitches."
Oct. 3: Reyes plays in the season finale, making him 162-for-162.
Oct. 9: The Mets sweep Joe Torre’s Dodgers in the NL Division Series. Manny tells reporters afterward that he will retire. "Unless," he adds, "I can play for the Mets."
Oct. 19: Billy Wagner walks in the pennant-winning run, as the Mets win a six-game series against the Braves. "Oh, great," Kenny Rogers says from his home in Texas. "They’re going to show that clip from 1999 again, aren’t they?"
Nov. 1: After edging out the Red Sox for the division title and pennant, the Yankees push the Mets to seven games in their second Subway Series. The Yankees have a one-run lead with two out and Mariano Rivera on the mound in the ninth when the unthinkable happens: Luis Castillo sends a jam-shot pop-up behind third base … Alex Rodriguez drifts back for it … The Yankees stand poised to win again … And then A-Rod trips on a sunflower seed and drops the ball.
Two runs score. The Mets win, 9-8. It all seems pretty surreal and absurd … until you remember which team we’re talking about.