They were admirable, playing for Collins even when he had AAA players and castoffs in the middle of the lineup, guys like Campbell and Recker, plus Colon and Niese, who made the Mets decent enough, bought time, emboldened the management to spend on better players.
Who will forget Wright’s first swing in Philly, and the perceived panic move of calling up Conforto from AA ball, and the arrival of Johnson and Uribe, plus Wilmer Flores’ tears, and then Cespedes, out of nowhere, looking like Willie Mays for six weeks. ("Sold his soul to the devil so he could play guitar" -- Lucinda Williams.)
They crushed the Nationals. They stunned the Dodgers’ aces. They swept the Cubs. Now they have lost to a better team that plays the game right, guys who learned lessons last year, and carried them out this year. Great energy. Skills. Make contact. Take the base.
No recriminations. Harvey challenged the manager in the dugout, in front of teammates, in front of the world.
On Sunday evening, I felt: Let him pitch til he puts somebody on base. Two-run lead. Then bring in the big guy. Collins stayed with him one batter too long, not two, but unless I was in the dugout, with the decision to make, I won’t second-guess Collins. He’s had a great run.
Murphy also had a great run, clubbing Chicago into submission. The Mets were going to jettison him anyway, for reasons of salary and age and defensive liability, his inner klutz. Back to Plan A.
As for Cespedes, my National League-centric brain wondered why he had been on three AL teams in his short time in the majors. Looking back, why did it take NL pitchers six weeks to learn to go up, up, up on Cespedes?
He couldn’t adjust. He seemed to get more nonchalant in the outfield and the bases as the pressure mounted. He went golfing on the day of a game in Chicago. I don’t think he was ready in center field for the first pitch of the World Series. He’s 30, time to keep moving. He just saved the Wilpons a ton of money, but what an epic jolt he brought for those few short weeks.
I spent the whole season watching personal favorites like Granderson, deGrom, Familia. Who knows about next year? But wasn’t it a great time?