On Saturday the Mets clinched the top Wild Card slot. It is likely no one thought they would be reading that sentence as recently as six weeks ago. The fact that they have done it is simply, dare I say, amazing. And it brings back memories of a prior great Mets comeback.
The Mets reached their nadir on August 19, when they dropped two games under .500. Here were the Wild Card standings that day:
The Dodgers would soon overtake the Giants for the lead in the NL West, so it was the Giants who held onto that first Wild Card slot for most of the rest of the season. And the Rockies were only a game behind the Mets. While the five and a half game deficit itself was going to tough to overcome, it was also going to be difficult to climb over four other teams. As I wrote a couple of weeks before the August 19 reality:
Not only would the Mets have to play well, they would have to hope that all four teams falter. The odds of that are unlikely.
Well, it turned out not to be unlikely at all, because that’s exactly what happened. While the Mets went an MLB best 27-12 since then, the Giants went 17-21, Cardinals 20-20, Pirates 16-25 and the Marlins 16-21 (numbers through Saturday afternoon’s games).
It is very similar to what happened in 1973. On August 19 of that year, the Mets were 55-66, in last place, six and a half games out. They went 27-13 the rest of the way, climbing over five teams to win the NL East. None of those teams played better than .500 ball to close out the season.
The fact that this year’s edition did it with the likes of Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman on the mound instead of their stud starters, that they did it without Neil Walker, David Wright, Lucas Duda and an effective Michael Conforto and Jay Bruce (until recently), perhaps makes it even more incredible than what the ’73 team accomplished.
Of course, that team upset the heavily favored Big Red Machine in the NLCS, then lost the World Series to a powerhouse A’s team in the midst of three straight championships.
Let’s see how far the 2016 Mets can go. Whatever happens, they have already pulled off something special.