4 reasons the Mets are in the World Series
NEW YORK -- Queens is in a dream. From LaGuardia Airport to JFK, the entire city is buzzing: The Mets are in the World Series.
This time, there was no Adam Wainwright curveball, no Subway Series looming on the horizon, no extra-inning, bases-loaded walk to Andruw Jones. The Mets overcame the Dodgers' mighty pitching staff in the National League Division Series and then steamrolled the Cubs in the NL Championship Series, complete when Wednesday's 8-3 win over Chicago culminated in champagne showers.
The Mets' first date with the Fall Classic since 2000 comes as a result of their fifth NL pennant. If the Mets win the World Series title, it will be their first since 1986, when Lenny Dykstra was a part of their lineup. On Wednesday, Dykstra celebrated at Citi Field's McFadden's Saloon with fans spanning three generations. Dykstra is 52. It's been a while.
Here are four reasons why the Mets are in the World Series:
1) Who else?
NLCS MVP Daniel Murphy rose to legendary status over the past two weeks. Maybe more impressive than Murphy's .529/.556/1.294 slash line in the NLCS -- if anything can be -- were the line of aces he has homered against in the postseason. Six of his seven homers this postseason came in consecutive games, breaking an MLB record and leaving a trail of elite pitchers in his wake: Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta. Each surrendered homers to Murphy this October, along with Kyle Hendricks and Fernando Rodney over the final two games of the NLCS.
Long a consistent, if flawed, footnote on half a decade's worth of Mets teams that struggled to win, Murphy's ridiculous run has thrown him into the national spotlight and, more than anything else, led New York to the NL pennant. He set almost every club postseason offensive record in the process.
"I really can't explain it," Murphy said. "It's just a complete blessing, and that's the only way I can describe it."
2) Those young arms
Incredibly, it wasn't until the final week of September that the Mets' four young, heralded hurlers started consecutive games. During almost every other stretch this season, there was a sprinkle of Jon Niese, several turns for Bartolo Colon, even some Logan Verrett, to boot. The idea: to save the arms of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and, to a lesser extent, Steven Matz, for a postseason run somewhere in the foreseeable future. Then the future became the present.
deGrom, Syndergaard, Harvey and Matz started all nine games this October, combining to post a 2.65 ERA. The Mets went 7-2. deGrom won all three of his starts -- all on the road -- including the clincher in Game 5 of the NLDS and the pivotal Game 3 in the NLCS. Harvey won Game 3 of the NLDS, before really dominating Game 1 of the NLCS, outdueling Lester in the process. The 23-year-old Syndergaard didn't rattle, striking out 20 batters in 13 innings against six walks. Rested and ready, the rotation didn't disappoint.
3) The manager
The Mets sat 29th in the Majors in stolen bases during the regular season, then swiped nine bags in nine postseason games, many risky attempts in critical spots. All but two proved successful, and at least three steals of third were pivotal to Mets wins.
Credit here must be given to the 66-year-old Terry Collins, who, when it mattered most, set his players loose. That change in style is a big reason Collins, a baseball lifer, is now appearing in his first World Series. So is the no-tomorrow mentality he managed his bullpen with.
"It was worth the wait," the fiery Collins said. "It was worth all the work."
4) The big man at the back end
Which leads us to Jeurys Familia, who saved the first three games of the NLCS and set down the final batters of Game 4. Familia finished all seven wins for the Mets over the first two rounds, with three saves of four outs or more. Collins leaned hard on Familia, who tied a club record with 43 regular-season saves, to the tune of 9 2/3 innings over eight appearances. Familia faced 33 batters, and he retired all but four.