The Heartbreak Mets

1999, 2000, 2006, 2015.  If you’ve been a Mets fan for the last 25 years, like myself, these have been the years that kept you coming back.  The years that gave you ever so much hope and shown so much promise.  And yet the team has consistently disappointed after every seemingly amazing run.

This Mets team of 2017 represents so much of what the Mets have been over my lifetime. A lot of potential and constantly showing signs of breaking out into success only to let you down again. The Mets just completed a sweep on the San Francisco Giants after previously losing 8 of their last 10.  Before that?  They had won 5 of 6 heading into a four-game series with Washington where many thought they could turn the corner and start to make up serious ground in the division.  This seems to be the story of the season for the Mets though.  They keep seeming to win a few games, just enough to make you think they’re going to turn the season around only to go on a losing streak that is nothing short of impressive.

But being a Mets fan since I first picked up a baseball in the early 90s this is certainly nothing new.  By 1999 the Mets were challenging the Braves who had dominated not only the NL east but the NL for much of the 90s.  In 2000, they won us over making it all the way to the World Series only to break our hearts by losing to our cross town rival, the Yankees.  However, expectations were still high for the 2001 season with players like Mike Piazza, Robin Ventura and John Franco, but they would finish the season in third place missing the playoffs.

It would only get worse the next few years as the Mets didn’t make the playoffs again until the 2006 season.  Anchored by young stars David Wright and Jose Reyes, as well as pitchers Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine, the Mets would make it to the NLCS that season.  And for the sake of not smashing my computer I won’t remind you how that series ended.  But with these star players returning the 2007 season looked as promising as any.  However, the Mets would miss the playoffs by one game (and there goes my computer) in a season that seemed to be the epitome of the Mets franchise.

The next drought would be even longer as the Mets would dwell in the basement of the NL until 2015 when a group of young pitchers started making serious noise in the league.  Jacob DeGrom and Matt Harvey had already made names for themselves in the league.  This year they would be joined by rookies Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz.  After hovering right around .500 for much of the season they made serious noise by acquiring Yoenis Cespedes.  At the same time players such as Travis D’arnuad and David Wright came off the disabled list and the Mets went on a run for the ages.  They dominated their way into the playoffs lead by their young pitchers and an unlikely hero in Daniel Murphy (and of course Big Sexy).  They would make it all the way to the world series only to lose to the Kansas City Royals in 5 games.  Once again, though, the future looked bright.  The Mets were able to resign Cespedes and had their young group of pitchers who looked poised to dominate.  On top of that Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo made their debuts and proved to be more than formidable pitchers.  However, as the season went on the injuries piled up and the bats never fully got going as the Mets clawed their way into the Wild Card game only to lose to the San Francisco Giants.

Jump to the current season and the Mets again had so much promise.  Their four young pitchers were healthy and even being joined by Zach Wheeler after missing two years for Tommy Johns Surgery.  Seth Lugo had made a name for himself in the World Baseball Classic and the Mets looked ready to make a run, once again led their group of young, talented pitchers.  Then Matz and Lugo get hurt to start the season, then Syndergaard, then Harvey and so on.  Suddenly we’re nearly halfway through the season and the Mets find themselves 7 games under .500 and 11 games behind the first place Nationals.  In another season that seemed so promising at the start the Mets have done nothing but disappoint.

This season has been a perfect representation of the Mets over the last 25 years.  They continually hit big hot streaks and then suddenly, just as you think they’re going to turn the corner, they let you down.  But as we all know, as Mets fans, we will keep coming back for more.  Just hoping this will be the hot streak that saves the season, or the season that starts the dynasty.  We’re just waiting for the day the Mets finally break through.

 

Hope you liked this article, if you did be sure to share it with your fellow Mets fans!  Let us know your experience as a Mets fan in the comments below!

What are the Jets doing?

Via USA Today Sports

During this offseason, it is clear that the Jets are in total rebuild mode. With cuts to all- time greats including Nick Mangold, Darrelle Revis, and David Harris, as well as some core offense players in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, who the team is looking to trade right now, the Jets currently do not have much of an appeal. So, what is it that the Jets are doing?

While financially, it makes sense that the team has let go of these players,  a question still can be raised as to who the team’s leader will be? Going into OTA’s, it looked as though David Harris and Eric Decker would man the ship for the young players and keep the locker room stable. But, now they will not be members of the Jets in 2017, and there is not a leader on this team. Most teams look to be competitive in the NFL, but it’s hard to see this team being much of a challenge at this point.

It’s hard to get a beat on them right now, but it is clear and has been for years that the team is in search of a franchise quarterback. They will certainly see what they have this year with Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty, but so far neither player has progressed enough to show they can be the longterm solution. Last season, the team was all in with veterans in hopes of making a deep playoff run, now they are trying to get younger, looking at their future.

Throughout the 21st century, the Jets season’s have consisted of mediocrity, with a few 9-10 wins with some playoff runs sprinkled in there. They have never been a dominant team, but also have never been the worst team in the NFL. So, this rebuild they’re going through is something fans have not seen in quite sometime.

The Jets have not made the playoffs since 2010, and throughout there have been many areas where fingers can be pointed. But, something that stands out the most is the Jets’ failure to draft well. Since 2010, the Jets have parted ways with 5 of their first round picks, and they also have not drafted an offense player in the first round since Mark Sanchez in 2009. Yet, their struggles continue to be led by the failure to find an elite quarterback.

Now in 2017, the team does not look like they will have much of a draw, and it appears as though they will compete for the worst record in football. Many Jets fans will tell you this is what the team needs; the number 1 overall pick and an opportunity to get the best player in the draft. But, does it really matter? Of late, the Jets always seem to struggle in the draft, also having problems finding steal players in the later rounds. When the Jets draft mid round quarterbacks like Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg, the hope is they will find success like a Russell Wilson or Dak Prescott, or dare I say Tom Brady. But, the Jets have had so many quarterback issues, it gets hard to explain.

The one area fans can look forward to is to see how first round pick Jamal Adams pans out this season, in which some said he could be the best player in the draft. The hope is he will be a cornerstone player, and set a tone with his work ethic and will to win. So, Jets fans need to brace for a really painful season. I would say be patient, but this franchise has been patient for so long. You also have to wonder how Todd Bowles can be fairly evaluated given the personnel he has this year. It’s hard to tell what the Jets are doing right now, but it looks like it’s going to be a rebuild that could last years. Jets fans are hungry for consistent success, but it doesn’t look as though they will be getting it any time soon. 2017 will probably be classified as a maintenance year, but I’m sure the Jets as an organization will tell the world they’re ready to win. Well, it’s tough to win when the team doesn’t even have a clear leader. Maybe if the team finds success in a few years, fans will look at 2017 as a positive season. Right now, the season hasn’t even started but the Jets have been written off by many.

The Islanders are Turning it Around and it’s About Time

The Islanders finally fired Jack Capuano on January 17th. They promoted Doug Weight to head coach and since have gone 15-6-3 after beginning the season 17-17-8.  They have moved from last in the east all the way into the second wild card slot.  A big part of this has been Andrew Ladd posting 11 goals in this time period while Jason Chimera has chipped in 7 of his own.  I posted a while back that I was Not a fan of the Islanders Offseason Moves however Ladd and Chimera have certainly stepped up as of late.  At the same time Josh Bailey has scored 6 goals to go along with 14 assists during the Islanders turnaround.  Now, I’ll admit I’ve never been a big Josh Bailey fan, but he has shown solid production playing on the first line with Tavares and Anders Lee and leads the team with 37 assists at the moment.

The Islanders have played with a lot more poise and enthusiasm of late.  They have looked like the playoff caliber team of the past two seasons.  Another big part of the turnaround has been promoting Thomas Greiss to starting goalie after Halak was waived and eventually sent to Bridgeport. Griess has posted a 23-13-4 record this season with a 2.54 GAA and .918 save percentage.  While these numbers aren’t going to put him in the Vezina trophy conversation they are a big step up from what we saw from Halak at the beginning of the season.

The Islanders will finish up their road trip tonight in St. Louis.  They’ve gone 5-2-1 so far.  They currently have 16 games left and sit 1 point ahead of Toronto for the second wild card spot.  Their is still a ways to go but this team is pushing hard for a playoff spot for the third consecutive season.

 

Mike’s Current Ranking of All 8 New York Sports Teams

New York sports have some pretty solid teams, but also some pretty bad teams. Here, Mike ranks each of the 8 New York teams from worst to best.

8. Brooklyn Nets

A Brooklyn Nets fan does not have much hope. As they currently sit last in the NBA, they’d almost be guaranteed a top 5 pick in a very strong NBA draft. However, that draft pick will be going to the Boston Celtics, involved in a trade the two teams made several years ago. The team can’t rebuild with a top 5 draft pick, and I don’t see them attracting many free agents. The Nets could very well be a bad team for sometime, which is why I rank them the worst team in New York.

7. New York Jets

After finishing the 2015 season in second place in the AFC East, the hope was the team would make the playoffs in 2016. Well, that didn’t happen, as they finished the season in last place in the AFC East, and now sit with the 6th overall pick in the NFL draft. The team is full of question marks. A major one is who the team’s quarterback will be for 2017. Is it a rookie they will find in the draft, a current free agent, or someone on their roster? The team is old, and they are looking to get young. In 2016, not only was the offense abysmal, the defense struggled as well. The team has a lot of holes, and this is a huge offseason for the Jets. In the NFL, teams generally don’t accept a total rebuild, but the Jets might have to consider that. They are full of older players who want to win now, but winning does not appear to be in the horizon, which is why I put the Jets at 7 on this list.

6. New York Knicks 

Some looked at the Knicks going into the 2016-17 season and thought they would be a playoff team. Well, that looks unlikely as they sit towards the bottom of the Eastern Conference. The Knicks have been a mess for quite sometime now, but I thought they were turning the corner when they found success when they acquired Carmelo Anthony. They need to rebuild, but instead they continue to bring in players, paying them for what they did in the past, not what they will do with the Knicks. Knicks fans are losing patience, and this team looked like they would be better this year. They have a young star in Kristaps Porzingis, so they need to build around him by making the right decisions in the draft. Then they will be able to attract some big name free agents. Fans can only hope they start to improve, but right now they are a bad team, which is why they sit at number 6 on this list.

5. New York Yankees

The best run franchise in New York is at a stage where they are rebuilding. They have numerous talented, young prospects, and a potential star in Gary Sanchez. But, at this point the Yankees are looking toward the future. At the same time, they could be pretty competitive in 2017, as they were in 2016. But, I think this team is going to have some losing season’s ahead of them. They have some holes, especially in their pitching staff. But, at anytime they could make a big splash in free agency. For now, I look at them as the middle of the pack team in the MLB, which is why I have them at number 5 out of all the New York teams.

4. New York Islanders

About a month ago, the Islanders were in last place. However, they have climbed their way back into the playoff mix, and are currently sitting with the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. Over the past few seasons, the Islanders have had decent success. They also have arguably the best current athlete in New York in John Tavares. With a team that is still pretty young, as long as they have John Tavares they could have a bright future. Fans are still waiting for the team to make a deep playoff run. They have proven they are able to make the playoffs, but they have not proven to be a dominant team in the NHL. For now, they sit at number 4 on this list, with potential to be the best in New York. That is, if John Tavares stays with the Islanders if he hits free agency.

3. New York Giants

The Giants made it to the playoffs in 2016, and had one of the best defenses in the NFL. They also have one of the best football players on the planet in Odell Beckham Jr. Even though Eli Manning had a mediocre campaign in 2016, fans still know what he is capable of. With Super Bowl aspirations, the 2017 season will be a big one for this team to make a run in the playoffs. Eli Manning is not getting any younger, but he has a great defense and some solid playmakers on offense. With very little holes on this team, the Giants stand at number 3, and they are in a situation where the hopes are for sustained success for the future. Only time will tell.

2. New York Rangers

The Rangers have made it to the playoffs in 10 of the last 11 seasons. Every year, they are relevant and if you are a fan, you can’t complain about that. While they haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1994, they continue to have good chances at winning another. This year, they are a very fast team with a solid offense. Henrik Lundqvist is not getting any younger, and you bet they want to win a Stanley Cup with him. They currently sit in 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division, and have been playing well of late. Just when you think this team is starting to decline, they prove everyone wrong. I give the franchise credit for making it to the playoffs so consistently. They’ve chocked in the playoffs a few times being a pretty high seed, but maybe they need a year like this where they are not the top dog. With the consistency this team has shown, and how they appear to be headed to the playoffs again, they are very worthy of number 2 on this list.

1. New York Mets

In 2015, the Mets hit the MLB by storm, winning the National League Pennant. With a dominant, young pitching staff, they had World Series hopes in 2016. However, injuries held them back, but they still managed to make it to the Wild Card game, with many key players going down that season including  Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey. Going into 2017, the team has so much depth all across the board. If their pitching stays healthy, this team could make a deep run in the playoffs. They also have a lot of depth in their offense. With a long baseball season ahead, players get hurt, so it’s good to have a team with so much depth. While the team does have some question marks, they still are favored to battle right with the Washington Nationals for the NL East title. The sky is the limit for this team, and they have the potential to be the best Mets dynasty of all time. For now, they are looking like they could be a force in 2017, which is why I rank them the best team currently in New York.

 

Top 5 Current Athletes in New York

5. Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets, Starting Pitcher

Noah Syndergaard at just the age of 24 is making a case to be the Mets ace in their pitching rotation. In 2 seasons, he has a career ERA of 2.89, with 23 wins and 384 strikeouts. He has continued to improve every time he’s out on the mound with his 97 plus mph fastball. Last season, he impressed the baseball universe throwing 7 shutout innings in the National League Wild Card game with 10 strikeouts, but Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants would be too much for the Mets to handle, as they would go on to lose the game. Without him, the Mets pitching staff would be in trouble as he is the only one to stay healthy in each of his seasons so far. Don’t forget he’s also a threat at the plate. Last season, he hit 3 home runs, including 2 in 1 game. The sky is the limit for him, and I expect him to be the Mets best pitcher for years to come and lead them to a World Series.

4. Jacob deGrom, New York Mets, Starting Pitcher

As of now, Jacob deGrom is still the best pitcher the Mets have. In the 2015 postseason, he came up big time for the Mets, especially in the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers where he started 2 games, winning both with a 1.38 ERA and 20 strikeouts. In his 2 starts, he picked up the wins against 2 of the best pitchers in baseball in Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. deGrom’s season was cut short in 2016 due to injury, but for his career in 3 seasons he has 30 wins with a 2.74 ERA and 492 strikeouts. He also won the 2014 National League Rookie of the Year. He is a little older than Noah Syndergaard at age 27, and I expect Syndergaard will pass him at some point as the Mets number 1 starter. Right now, deGrom is still slept on in this Mets pitching rotation, and right now he is the best pitcher they have.

3. Yoenis Cespedes, New York Mets, Outfielder

The turning point of the 2015 season for the Mets was at the trading deadline when they acquired Yoenis Cespedes from the Detroit Tigers. He hit the National League by storm after that trade, hitting 17 home runs for 44 RBI’s with a .287 batting average in 57 games. At one point, he was in the discussion for National League MVP, as he proved to be very valuable to the Mets. He was the bat they needed, and he was a major part in why they won the National League East, and would later win the National League Pennant. In 2016, injuries definitely affected his season. However, when he came back from injury, he led the Mets offense to a Wild Card berth, however they were eliminated against the San Francisco Giants. Don’t forget he is a game changer in the field, with a cannon of an arm, being a threat to throw out baserunners at any time. In his time with the Mets which is about a season and a half, he has 48 home runs for 130 RBI’s with a .282 batting average. Without Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets offense would be very weak. He is perfect for them along with their talented young pitching staff. If he stays healthy along with the pitching staff, this team could be a dynasty. He arguably means more to them than any of their pitchers because he jumpstarts their offense and makes everyone around him better.

2. Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants, Wide Receiver

Odell Beckham Jr. is a top 5 wide receiver in the NFL. He hit the league by storm in his rookie season, catching 12 touchdown passes for 1,305 yards in 12 games, and winning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. He is a game changing player for the giants, with incredible speed and arguably the best hands in the NFL. He has sort of helped revive Eli Manning’s career with the Giants, and made them relevant again after it looked like they were on their way down. For his career, he has 35 receiving touchdowns for 4,122 yards with 288 catches, as well as being a 3 time Pro Bowler. Beckham Jr. is arguably the best athlete in the NFL and one of the league’s most exciting players. As he continues to make strides every year, he has the potential to be the league’s best receiver at any moment. Having the potential to be the best receiver in the NFL will certainly land him on this list, which is why he ranks in at number 2. The Giants have a solid core with a great defense, and some playmakers on offense to help out Eli Manning. It is very possible that they win a Super Bowl with Odell Beckham Jr., but he has to continue to improve every year and have his head in the right place on the field.

1. John Tavares, New York Islanders, Center

At the age of just 26, John Tavares tops our list as the best athlete in New York. Being on 1 of the smaller market New York teams, he does not always get the respect he deserves. The former number 1 overall pick in the 2009 NHL draft has been a superstar since day 1. He continues to come up with clutch goals for the team, especially in the postseason. Who could forget his numbers in the 2016 playoffs, where he had 6 goals for the team, including the tying goal in game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Florida Panthers with under 1 minute remaining in the 3rd period. To add to that, Tavares would later score the game winning goal in overtime in that game, leading the Islanders to their 1st playoff series win since the 1992-93 season. Tavares is a top 10 player in the NHL, and the Islander captain continues to improve every season. This Islanders team will only go as far as he leads them, as the team rallies around him. For his career, he has 514 total points on 227 goals and 287 assists in 561 games, as well as being a 2 time All Star. He has never won it, but has been in the MVP conversation numerous times. He’s certainly the MVP for all of New York teams, as this Islanders team would not be nearly as good without him. He means more to his team, than any other player in New York, which is why he is number 1 on this list. Fans hope he will lead the team to a Stanley Cup, and he certainly has the skill to do it.

All Stats via Baseball-Reference, Pro-Football-Reference, and Hockey-Reference.

Believe it or not, the Islanders still have a chance to make the playoffs

goal
Via the Associated Press

The Islanders got off to a slow start in the 2016-2017 season, but here at the end of January they are still very much alive in the playoff race. The team fired Jack Capuano on January 17th, and have since had a record of 2-0-1 with interim head coach Doug Weight. The team looks to be playing with more confidence and since Weight took over.

Looking at the Wild Card race, the Islanders with 47 points are just 5 points behind the 2nd Wild Card team, the Philadelphia Flyers. At this point, they’d have to jump 6 teams which is not an easy task, but the way the season started, Islander fans should be thrilled that the team still has a decent shot. An advantage the Islanders have is that they have at least 1 game in hand on every team in front of them, including 3 on the Flyers. That being said, the team must take care of business if they want to make it to the playoffs for a 3rd consecutive season.

A huge turning point in the season was when the Islanders waived Jaroslav Halak, and have since rolled with Thomas Greiss as their starting goalie. Greiss appears to give the Islanders the best chance to win every night, as he has also been very hot of lately, including back to back shutouts last week. While Jack Capuano took most of the blame for the Islanders’ inability to hold leads late in games, that also falls on the shoulders of the goalie. Greiss also came through big for the Islanders in the 2015-2016 playoffs, being a huge part in why the team won that series against the Florida Panthers. I think having him be the number 1 goalie was the right call.

They also have gotten a lot of production from Anders Lee. After the team let 2 of the team’s better offensive players go in Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielson, someone needed to step up alongside John Tavares. Lee has been that guy, with 17 goals thus far on the season with 24 points overall. If the team could get more production from Andrew Ladd, who was their big free agent signing, it would greatly help the offense. However, Lee has been solid this season after a slow start, and is feasting playing on the same line as John Tavares.

And who could forget John Tavares, who has been playing some of the best hockey of his career over the last 6 games, with 8 goals and an assist. The team is reliant on him, if he continues this tear, others around him will improve.

While the Islanders still have a lot of work to do to make the playoffs, if I told you a month ago they’d only be 5 points out of a playoff spot, would you believe me? Well, they are with still a lot of hockey to play. It is important that they strictly focus on beating the team in front of them. They have to jump a bunch of teams, but it is very possible. The beauty of hockey is that right now the Islanders are tied for last in the Eastern Conference, but we’re still talking playoff possibilities in late January. So, if the Islanders want to make the playoffs, they need Thomas Greiss to keep up the consistency, John Tavares to continue his dominance, and help from other players like Anders Lee, Andrew Ladd, and Brock Nelson. There’s still a lot of hockey to be played, and the Islanders are 1 run away from being in business. As a hockey fan, you can’t ask for anything more than your team playing meaning fun games down the stretch. Hopefully in March, the Islanders will still be in striking distance to take hold of the 2nd Wild Card spot.

All stats via nhl.com

Mike’s Championship Sunday Predictions

NFC Championship

Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons

If you thought the Packers matchup in the Divisional Round with the Dallas Cowboys was high scoring, expect much of the same in this one. Arguably the two hottest offenses will matchup in an attempt to make it to Super Bowl 51. I predict that whoever possess the ball last in this game with a chance to win will win the game. Both these teams have more faith in their offenses. I’d say the Falcons have the edge on defense, as well as home field advantage. But, Aaron Rodgers has been playing flawless football since mid November. I expect him to continue the Packers win streak, and upset the Atlanta Falcons. Right now, I don’t think anyone can beat Aaron Rodgers. Some of the Packers best receivers are questionable to play including Jordy Nelson, but as long as Aaron Rodgers plays, I expect them to win. This matchup will indeed be a shootout. I’ll say Packers 45, Falcons 41.

AFC Championship

Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots

In 12 of the last 13 Super Bowls, the AFC team has been quarterbacked by either Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, or Peyton Manning. Make that 13 of the last 14 as Roethlisberger will be squaring off with Brady in what I expect to be an all time classic. The Steelers offense is lethal led by Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell. The Patriots on the other hand have a guy that strictly wins in the playoffs in Tom Brady. To be clear, each of the 4 teams left are known for their offenses. The defensive play in this game should be a little better than the NFC Championship. This matchup will come down to which quarterback makes that one mistake in which the opposition will take advantage of. Each team is going to score points, but the defense that makes that one big play should lead that team to victory. The Patriots appear to have a better defense, and I think that will be the difference in this game. Tom Brady will appear in yet another Super Bowl, and I predict he will school the Steelers defense that has been playing good football of late. This matchup is exciting, and Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers will not go down without a fight, but Tom Brady is just so tough to beat, especially at home in the playoffs. I’ll say Patriots 35, Steelers 27.