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Fans were still recovering and mourning all over the country, as they had since September of 2007. In possibly the biggest collapse in sports history, the power house New York Mets let the ’07 playoff dreams fall right through their finger tips like golden sand, blowing 12 of their last 17 games. Although Pedro Martinez went down for nearly the entire season with a bad injury, the Mets were seemingly still not only the NL East favorites, but almost a lock to win the rather weak National League pennant. But towards the end of the year, nothing went as planned and now more then ever, sport fans realized nothing is ever certain.
Let’s take a little flash back to September 12, where the Mets were 83-62, and the life of a New York Mets fan was nearly perfect. Jose Reyes and David Wright were both considered front runners for the NL MVP, proving to be two of the biggest studs in the game. Glavine had reached his 300 th win, and Martinez had recorded his 3,000 th strike out, and the Mets traded for the speedy Minnesota Twins second base star, Luis Castillo. Life was good. September 13 th marked their final break before the end of the season, and the Mets quietly celebrated a soon to be playoff berth. They then returned to baseball on the 14 th in Philadelphia, were they were swept in three games against the Phillies, and they then lost two more to the Washington Nationals. Although things did not look good for the Mets, they beat the Marlins in three out of four games and went back down to Washington to secure their playoff berth. However, they did just the opposite, losing five more games in a row. John Maine then took the mound for the Mets in their second to last game of the season against the Florida Marlins, where he kept a no hitter going till the 8th, as the Mets trampled Florida 13-0. And on September 30 th, it was win or go home vs. Florida, and all they needed to do was beat the last place bums. But in one of the worst games of Tom Glavine’s career, the Mets did not show up and lost 8-1.
The Mets and their fans, myself included, were still gently weeping to themselves over this horrible turn of events, compared to that of the 1964 Philadelphia Phillies who blew a 6.5 game lead to the Mets with 12 games left. The Mets were now on the other side of this and did not know how to react. For me, I was still in shock over last years loss for the Mets with bases loaded for Carlos Beltran, who struck out as well as the infamous Tony Romo dropped snap. I just couldn’t trust sports any more! Although I could always hope for a better 2008 season, the Phillies were now the favorite to win and hoping to see my team succeed and not break down at the end was now only wishful thinking. “Hopefully,” I thought to myself and out loud to any one who would listen, “the Mets will make a big move and pay back their fans for that lousy ending.” “Hopefully,” I would constantly repeat, “our trusted GM Omar Minaya will make us a move for a pitcher---something! Anything!”
Until Tuesday, I had damn nearly forgotten about Mets baseball, and was still shaking from my Cowboys loss. Until Tuesday, I had almost forgotten about baseball. I had gotten home from school over four hours earlier then usual due to finals, and during the car ride home, I got an alert from my ESPN MVP phone that the Mets have acquired pitching ace Johan Santana! I basically jumped out of my seat and was happier then a kid at Christmas receiving the XBOX he wanted, and I’d imagine my eyes glowed like one too! I called my dad, my grandpa, three of my friends from school, my friend from New York, and sent out quite a few text messages as well! I was one happy Mets fan, and I was not alone in this matter. 2008 was going to be a HUGE year for the Mets. Their were hundreds of threads posted on the sports forum RootZoo.com, so many that it actually shut down the site because of the traffic, and nearly all asked “Did that just guarantee the Mets a 2008 World Series Appearance?” And thus brings me to why I’m here, to bring to each and every one of you a look at every single Mets player. This will be a two part article, the first part being the infield for the 2008 Mets.
The Puerto Rican born Carlos Delgado now ranks 37th overall in career homeruns and is just 69 away from reaching the 500 milestone. In 1988, Carlos was signed by the Toronto Blue Jays, despite offers from the Mets, Texas Rangers, Montreal Expos, and Cincinnati Reds. Carlos was actually originally a catcher, but switched to first base where he is now a two time All Star. In 2000, he won the Hank Aaron Award and Sporting News Player of the Year. He is a three time Silver Slugger award winner, in 1999, 2000 and 2003. He is one of four players to ever hit 30 homeruns in 10 consecutive seasons, and is also one of fifteen players (and most recent) to hit four homeruns in a game! In 2005, he became a Florida Marlin, where he played very well with a .301 batting average and 33 homeruns. However, later in 2005, the Mets traded Mike Jacobs for Delgado, where he crushed 38 home runs for the Mets in 2006. Although 2007 was somewhat of an off year for the slugger, he should bounce back for a big 2008 year with the star filled Met line up!
From the Dominican Republic, Luis Castillo has proven to be one of the best second basemen in the game, and the Mets knew that when they traded for the 32 year old speedy infielder. He is a three time All Star and has World Series experience, being in two. Also in his resume are three Gold Gloves and the MLB record for most career games without an error at second base, 143. His rookie season was in 1997; however he missed all of May with a hurt heel and was then recalled to the minors, so he did not take place in the 1997 Florida Marlins Championship team. He started the 2000 season with a seven game hitting streak, but was then placed on the injured reserved list. In 2002, Castillo stirred up a 35 game hit streak, the longest by any Latino as well as any second basemen. In the 2003 World Series, where he was a key part of the huge upset over the New York Yankees, he was the one who hit the foul ball knocked away by Steve Bartman. Luis, as I see it, will play a key part in the Mets 2008 season.
Barely 25 years old, David Wright is already considered one of the best players in baseball. He grew up in Chesapeake, Virginia and went to Hickory High School, where he played along side MLB players B.J. Upton and Ryan Zimmerman, and Wright was not the third basemen. In his senior year, he was named the Virginia Player of the Year, and his high school career included a .428 average and a .538 average in his senior year! David Wright is not only known for his incredible skill, but his work ethic as well. Wright shows up extremely early to games and practices, and signs autographs and talks to reporters frequently. After only one year in the minors, he quickly made it to the Mets where he played 69 games and hit 14 home runs. In 2005, Wright batted .306 with 27 homeruns. This was also the season in which he made a diving, bare handed catch in San Diego, which is one of the best plays of all time. In 2006, Wright made the All Star team and won the National League player of the Month Award for June. He had 72 RBI’s before All Star break, and participated in the Homerun derby, placing second place. In 2007, he started for the All Star team again. He had his first 30-30 season and also won the Gold Glove Award. He was the only player to play well during the end of the season, and he was a top contender for NL MVP. David Wright could very well get that award this year, and I see a HOF career for him.
Jose, Jose, Jose, Jose. Jose. Jose. Another Dominican born Met, Jose is one of the fastest baseball players to ever play the game. Reyes was signed to the Mets when he was just 16 years old, and he spent one year at each minor league level after being called up to the majors 2003, where he was placed at second base to make room for Japanese player Kazuo Matsui. Although his first few years were injury filled, 2006 was a huge year for Jose as he led the majors with 17 triples and 64 stolen bases. He became the first player in Major League history to have 122 runs or more, 194 hits or more, 19 home runs or more, and 64 stolen bases or more in a single season. He was also named to the 2006 All Star team. He had a.300 batting average with 19 homeruns and 17 triples to go along with those 64 stolen bases. In 2007, he stole a monster 78 bags and was named to the All Star team again. Jose will continue his huge success in 2008!
Part two of this article will be continued as I go into detail on the catcher, the key pitchers, and our outfield.
Wikipedia articles on each player, as well as MLB.com