The 2019 season, which concluded in dramatic form on Sunday with Dominic Smith hitting a home run in his first at-bat in over two months because of a foot stress fracture and the Mets down to their last out to beat the Atlanta Braves by a score of 7-6, was overall a successful one for the Amazin’s even though they failed to make the playoffs.
In my 2019 Mets preview, I wrote that the goal should be a return to respectability and finish over .500. The Mets accomplished that by winning a very respectable 86 games marking only the third time in ten years that the Mets’ season ledger showed more victories than defeats.
Things looked quite bleak for the Mets at the All-Star Game break in early July as they were ten games under .500. Thanks to a strong second half, which admittedly contained some disappointments such as consecutive three-game series where they were swept by the Cubs and Braves in late August, the Mets were able to find a way to finish ten games over .500.
There were a lot of upbeat storylines with the big one was rookie first baseman Pete Alonso slugging 53 home runs which both set a record for first-year players and was the most hit by any player in the majors in 2019.
Outfielder JD Davis, who was acquired in a little-noticed trade during the winter with the Astros, batted. 307 and wound up with 22 home runs.
Highly touted shortstop Amed Rosario finally appeared to be living up to the hype preceding his arrival in Flushing as his fielding noticeably improved and he cut down swinging at bad pitches which led to more walks and hits.
Perhaps the least talked about the bright spot for the Mets was that their big four starters: Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz all stayed healthy this past season. Kudos to the Mets’ training staff who have been bashed in past years.
The major downside was the Mets bullpen which could have been classified a disaster area by FEMA. Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen acquired Edwin Diaz in a much-ballyhooed trade that also netted the Mets again second baseman Robinson Cano as well as bringing back Jeurys Familia who was traded to Oakland at the trade deadline at the end of July 2018, Had Diaz and Familia just been disappointingly mediocre instead of flat-out awful and unusable the Mets would have been in the playoffs.
Diaz gave up 15 home runs, and all of them seemed to at the worst possible time game-wise for the Mets and finished with an unsightly 5.59 earned run average. Familia, who was once a reliable Mets closer, had an even worse 5.70 ERA. Only Seth Lugo offered Mets manager Mickey Callaway any kind of reliable relief.
Situational hitting was another deficient area for the Mets. It wasn’t your imagination that the Mets are abysmal at getting a runner home from third base with less than two out. Mets play-by-play radio voice Howie Rose pointed out last Saturday night that the Mets were dead last in the majors in sacrifice flies.
Pete Alonso donated the special remembrance cleats that he wore on the 18th anniversary of September 11th to the 9/11Memorial & Museum on Tuesday.
Satellite radio’s Sirius XM will be airing a special “Amazin: A Celebration of the 1969 Mets” on its MLB Radio Network that will air throughout October.
Kal Penn, the star of NBC’s “Sunnyside,” airing Thursdays at 9:30, threw out the first pitch before last Tuesday’s Marlins-Mets game. Speaking at the Queens premiere of “Sunnyside” at the Museum of the Moving Image Penn admitted that he took this first pitch ceremony quite seriously and hired a pitching coach. He told the audience that he did not want to emulate hip-hop star and South Jamaica native Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson who badly bounced his first pitch at Citi Field a couple of years ago. Penn zipped a high pitch and outside but Mets catcher Wilson Ramos caught it on the fly.
Penn admitted to me afterward that since he has spent so much time in Los Angeles because of his acting career he has become a Dodgers fan. Nevertheless we should all be rooting for his very funny show, “Sunnyside,” whose tag line is “Welcome to Queens. Home of the American dream.”
“WWE Smackdown” makes its broadcast television debut on Fox Friday night and World Wrestling Entertainment sent its champion, Kofi Kingston, to President Trump’s favorite morning TV show, Fox News’s “Fox & Friends” and will be having one of its most popular grapplers, Roman Reigns, appearing on “NFL Thursday Night Football” tonight.
Nearly anyone who is anyone in the WWE universe appeared on FS1’s New York-based morning show, “First Things First.” FS1 will also be airing a weekly studio show, “WWE Backstage” Tuesday nights at 11 PM beginning November 5. Hopefully, it will have the humor of those classic WWE studio shows that aired on USA Network back in the 1980s when cable was in its relative infancy.
For those wanting to either catch up or reminisce, DK Publishing has just published “WWE Smackdown: 20 Years and Counting.”