The long winter slumber. That is what it feels like right now. Not weather wise, but certainly in the world of sports.
Thanksgiving is right around the corner and Christmas is not that far off. In football, the Jets and Giants both have their glaring deficiencies that don’t exactly get you excited about deep playoff runs. The Yankees have been a distant memory for quite some time. As for the local hockey, when we start to hit the early spring, then that starts to garner the attention. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are fantastic. The NHL regular season? Not so much.
The Rangers and Islanders look to be playoff teams once again and both look to build momentum over the course of the 82 game regular season. The Devils are under the guidance of new leadership and look to re-establish themselves in the Eastern Conference. Heaven forbid we forget about the Nets and Knicks. Brooklyn basketball is non-competitive and largely viewed as a joke. The Nets conversation circles around the coaching future of Lionel Hollins and when will they actually win a game. Meanwhile, the Knicks have an exciting rookie in Kristaps Porzingis and he makes them watchable. They are coming off of a 17-win season and I am excited that they are not THAT BAD this season. Good times. As for the Chris Mullin St. John’s Era, the Storm just lost to St. Thomas Aquinas by 32 points ... they are a Division II school by the way.
So basically what I am saying is, “I miss the Mets already.” They were fun and exciting and certainly created a buzz in this city. Anytime a team goes through something together for the first time, it is a blast to watch and the Mets made October awesome. Unfortunately It ended and not in a good way. There were no celebrations and no parade down the Canyon of Heroes. But they had a championship feel. Yes, there will be story lines in the sports world that will grab our attention before baseball gets going again. The sports world did not come to an end, but the Mets season did. We are now over a week out since the baseball season concluded in the 12th inning at Citi Field two Sundays ago as Wilmer Flores took a called strike three from Wade Davis and the Royals celebration began. What could have been. For the last 8 days, Mets fans have said that to themselves time and time again. If only they did not play their worst baseball as a team in the biggest series of the year. If all the warts that concerned you about the 2015 Mets did not come back to haunt them in one way shape or form. That happened and the Mets lost and the Royals won.
As the Amazins enter the off-season, they will be haunted by physical and mental errors that cost them a realistic shot to defeat the Royals in the Fall Classic. But they are beginning a journey that could be very fruitful. They have a difference making starting rotation and as GM Sandy Alderson said last week they are second-to-none. He is right. Now is the time to believe the message from Alderson and the Mets. At a press conference last Wednesday to announce a 2-year contract extension for Terry Collins, Alderson talked about expectations being at a higher level, not just for the fans but for the front office as well. I am sure they are still smarting over their World Series loss, but they must use it to drive them to a championship in 2016. They need to use the Royals as an example. I guarantee you this. As the winter months will descend on this city and we are treated to artic blasts and snow, ice and bitter cold, what will keep the Mets fans warm are thoughts of this fall. The Mets are an organization that sold so many on hope, but they don’t need to sell it anymore. We have all witnessed the brilliance of the young talent that now call Flushing home.
Now it is on Alderson to improve this team. Tough decisions will need to be made on Murphy and Cespedes. The Mets need bullpen arms, bench players and a major league shortstop. They need to get better. They have grabbed the attention of NYC and have clearly overshadowed the Yankees. Now it is the time to go for the brass ring. They went for it this year and they can’t rest now. They do not get the benefit of the doubt because of what transpired for the 9 years before 2015. The proof will be in the actions of the decision makers in Flushing. I think they know the real opportunity that is in front of them. The questions remains, will they take advantage of it?