Despite the 74-88 record, it was quite a memorable year for Mets fans, more so than any recent years. This season, we witnessed an amazing story of redemption, a feat that hadn’t been accomplished by any Met, signs of hope for the future, and much more. Let’s look back at some of the biggest storylines from this year in Mets baseball.
7. Wilpons Settle Madoff Case
Mets fans caught a glimmer of hope in late March as the Wilpon family was finally able to settle the Bernie Madoff case for a surprisingly-low amount of $162 million, about half of which they will not pay. The settlement came as a surprise after reports surfaced that the trustee working the case — Irving Picard — wanted to recover hundreds of millions more, putting the Wilpons’ ownership of the Mets in jeopardy.
The settlement gave clarity to an otherwise murky financial future for the organization, which lost over $70 million in 2011. The team is still losing money, however, with losses still above $20 million for this year. They are by no means out of the woods yet, but the settlement was a big step in the right direction.
6. Matt Harvey‘s Electric Debut
Mets fans got a taste of what’s to come when 23 year-old pitching sensation Matt Harvey made his debut in Arizona in the middle of a Mets west coast swing. Harvey had a high pitch count, maybe because of is nerves, but had sensational stuff and pitched extremely well, tossing five shutout innings while striking out 11 Diamondbacks.
Harvey continued his dominance the rest of the season, finishing with a 2.73 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 59.1 innings before being shut down in mid-September. He pitched extremely well, and got better with each start. He looks like he could be a fixture in the Mets rotation for the next decade.
5. David Wright Signs Biggest Contract in Mets History
The face of the franchise, David Wright, signed an eight-year, $138 million deal, the biggest contract ever signed by a Met. Wright, the leader and figurehead of the organization, had a sensational season, putting himself back on the map as a superstar after a few years of sub-par play. He finished with a .306 batting average, his highest since 2009, along with 21 home runs and a 7.8 fWAR, the second highest of his career.
Wright will remain a Met through the 2020 season, and will likely finish out his career with the team he started out with, the team that groomed and developed him into an All-Star third baseman. He now has the security and will not be going anywhere anytime soon. The only thing that remains to be seen is: how far can he take this franchise.
4. First Half Surprise, Second Half Demise
There were zero expectations going into the 2012 season. Nobody expected the Mets to make a run at .500, let alone a playoff spot. Michael Kay (not exactly a baseball expert, but someone with a considerable following) predicted the Mets would lose well over 100 games. On June 1, the Mets were just one game behind the Nationals for the top spot in the NL East.
The Mets in the first half played with intensity. They showed a passion for the game, a burning desire to win, and budding young players who looked like they could carry the Mets to the promise land. Led by their stellar pitching staff, they looked like they could challenge for a wild card spot. It would not be enough, however, as their offense soon gave way and their pitching staff could not carry them any longer. The team didn’t have enough power bats, making it much more difficult for them to compete with the NL’s best. After the All-Star break, the Mets (who were 46-40 going into the break) collapsed, finishing with a 28-48 second-half record. Optimistically, they showed potential for the future. With a few more power bats and another year of development for their young pitchers, the franchise may have a very bright future ahead.
3. R.A. Dickey Traded To Toronto
The biggest move of the Mets offseason was made earlier this month, when they traded R.A. Dickey, Mike Nickeas, and Josh Thole to the Blue Jays for four players, including top catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud.
The move was a tough one to stomach for some Mets fans, who had grown attached to the Cy Young Award winning knuckleballer. As tough as it was to accept this move, it may have been the best move for the future. The Mets window for winning may be past Dickey’s productive years. Plus, his value was at an all-time high and wasn’t going to get any better. With Dickey being owed just $5 million next season (until Toronto signed him to a new contract), the Mets could get multiple top prospects for him, which is exactly what they did. The Mets received a future everyday, power-hitting catcher in Travis d;Arnaud as well as a top young pitching prospect named Noah Sndergaard. Ten years from now, this could potentially be looked at as a deal that changed the Mets organization.
2. Dickey’s Story of Redemption
R.A. Dickey captured the hearts of baseball fans around the country with his inspiring story, which couldn’t have unfolded in a better way this year. He releasing his autobiography, Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball in March, telling stories of his childhood in which he was sexually abused as well as his struggle with depression as a journeyman minor leaguer.
Dickey went on to have a sensational year, going 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA and winning the NL Cy Young Award. He led the league in complete games and shutouts, including his back-to-back one-hitters that amazed baseball fans everywhere and put him in the national spotlight. News networks began to do stories on him, and his life story was talked about everywhere. What’s more, Dickey was a class act through it all, and got his message out in a positive manner. He inspired many to speak out and became a role model for many.
Oh, and did I mention he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro?
1. The First No-Hitter In Mets History
As much as the rest of these stories were talked about in the media, the story of 2012 was Johan Santana‘s no-hitter. The Mets had always been famous for never throwing a no-hitter, but finally broke the curse on June 1 against the St. Louis Cardinals at Citi Field with Johan Santana on the mound.
Santana, once a Triple Crown pitcher, gave Mets fans a glimpse at his former greatness. He showed heart and fight, pushing his way to a 134-pitch performance. At points it wasn’t pretty, and at one point, it may have been downright lucky, but hey: that’s Mets baseball.
Check out more of my work at my Mets blog, Up Along First.