Hey you, you boys in orange and blue (to borrow and slightly paraphrase a British football chant that I’m told is quite popular). It was some year with you fellas. But having been through it, and come out safely at the other end, I think I can safely say that I’m in it for the long haul, and you’ll be around for just about as long as I can manage.
For the most part, everyone hated 2016, and not entirely without reason, although the logic behind blaming a temporal unit for the events that occur during it seems hazy at best. But in Met land, 2016 wasn’t too bad. Actually, it was pretty great.
We won 87 games in 2016. In 16 other seasons, our Mets have exceeded or matched that number. In 55 years of Mets history, we’ve won 87 games or more while making the playoffs only seven times. So, yes. 2016 was pretty good, if you stuck with what you saw at the ballpark.
And even if it wasn’t: now, it’s over. 2016’s end came as 2017 began, which meant that the 2016 season’s end, which itself had come on a fly ball off T.J. Rivera’s bat, was receding into the past, as the beginning of the 2017 season, which, in all probability, will come with a Noah Syndergaard fastball exploding into the mitt of whoever we’ve got behind the plate that day, was itself drawing nearer. It seems complicated; it’s not. The last time it was 2016, there was no baseball left in the year. Now it’s 2017, and we’ve got approximately a full season and then some before the year changes again. A year with no baseball, to a year with as much baseball as you can have. It takes neither Roger Angell nor a sabermetrician to tell you that that’s a deal you’ll take any day of the week.
So, the end of 2016, and 2017’s associated beginning, is unquestionably a positive step, both in terms of approaching baseball season and ending all the weirdness the former seemed to bring with it. But let’s not pretend that 2016 was all bad, because before some things happened that turned 2016’s aftertaste sour, we had a pretty good thing going, especially if “we” is taken to mean those Flushing Faithful who remember Jesse Gonder and can recite the concession stands within Citi Field in order of wait time. For a while, things got pretty good for us — those people.
For one, we had a team that was easy to love, and not only because of a 27-13 run. We had quirky rookies contributing, heartwarming reunion stories paying dividends, superstars doing their things, and previously reliably ordinary players coming forward and making the season one to remember. We had Matt Reynolds hitting a home run on 45 minutes of sleep, Seth Lugo setting a record for, basically, dirtiest curveball in a good few years, Syndergaard and Cespedes doing their respective things, Asdrubal Cabrera turning, for a month, into Ernie Banks. On the field, 2016 had nearly anything we could have wanted, short of a World Series title we weren’t going to pick up anyway.
And then there was the year off the field — “behind the scenes,” I would call it, except that implies a certain celebrity that’s simply not present — at Shea Bridge Report. I wrote more about the Mets in 2016 than ever before, and certainly than in any previous year. I addressed what it meant to be a fan. I summed up Mike Piazza’s induction to the Hall of Fame. I attempted to express just what it was about David Wright that made him today and always my favorite player.
I can’t tell yet whether 2016 represented a turning point, a defining moment in the way I write and think about the Mets. I think it may have; on the other hand, maybe it was just another year. I don’t know yet; I may not for a while. I’m not sure it really matters. It happened; now it’s done. Now we move on to 2017, and see what happens then.
2016, as years tend to do, featured good, bad, ugly, and downright inexplicable. So we move on to 2017, certain only of the fact that we have no idea what will happen, or how.
Well, actually we can be certain of one more thing. Soon, there will be baseball. And that itself is reason to be happy in the new year.