For New York Mets fans of a certain age, 1986 feels like yesterday. The brawling, brassy team sliced through the National League, won 108 games, beat the Astros in dramatic fashion in the championship series (a.k.a. “the other Game 6”), and then took the Red Sox down in seven games after the Game 6, in which the Mets were down two runs, with two outs, the bases empty, and Gary Carter at the plate facing a 1-2 count.
Then Carter singled. Then Kevin Mitchell singled. Then Ray Knight singled Carter home, Mitchell to third. Then Mookie Wilson jump/dove out of the way of a wayward 2-2 pitch, scoring Mitchell, the tying run. Then Mookie, after fouling off the next two 3-2 pitches … well, let’s let Vin Scully take it away …
“Little roller up along first … behind the bag! It gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight and the Mets win it!”
And then, for the next minute and 48 seconds, Scully was silent as Shea Stadium in Flushing became the loudest, most delirious place on Earth. (You’ll have to excuse this writer for a moment, as he was 14 years old at the time and had been a diehard since 1979 and could tell you more than you want to know about Joel Youngblood and Steve Henderson and after watching the video below needs a moment to compose his thoughts. Anyway … )
Despite those razor-sharp memories shared by many fans, this didn’t happen yesterday. In fact, the Mets have been serially disappointing their fanbase for the last 34 years. Mets-hats-wearing fans have spent this era nodding silently at each other when they pass on the street, glum without fail.
But hope springs eternal, and with last week’s trade for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco, Mets fans have reason once again to believe.
Ya gotta believe
Early indications are that those fans are believing with their wallets, pushing the Mets to be the most-wagered team to win the World Series across the sports gambling landscape. (The PATH train under the Hudson has probably been especially busy, with New Yorkers flooding into the Garden State to get their online bets down.)
Over at William Hill, the Mets have the most tickets (14%) and the most money (31%) wagered to win the World Series of any MLB team. In fact, “Mets to win World Series” is more popular than any other Major League Baseball futures bet right now.
NYM lead all teams in both total number of tickets (14%) & total dollars wagered (31%) among all 2021 Pro ⚾️🏆 futures.
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— William Hill US (@WilliamHillUS) January 7, 2021
Of course, this all begs the question: Are the Mets actually, really, no kidding, for real?
This time around, it does feel different. Out are the hated Wilpons, in is Steve Cohen who has publicly declared he is going to spend money to bring a championship to Flushing. And the rumor mill has Cohen not finished in his offseason shopping spree, with Cubs third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant rumored to be on the Mets wish list, as is Houston Astros free agent centerfielder George Springer. Or how about taking the 7 to the 4 over to the Bronx and signing Yankees infielder D.J. LeMahieu?
With all the money coming in on the Mets, the sportsbooks have had to sit up and take notice. On DraftKings, the Mets are +1200 to win the World Series, behind only the Dodgers (+450), Yankees (+550), Padres (+900), Braves (+1000), and White Sox (+1000). Of course, another big move in the trade or free agent market is going to see those Metsies — who started the offseason at +3500 to win it all — jump even higher.
And for Mets fans looking to get a little extra juice on that World Series number, FOX Bet has them at +1400.
But first the Mets have to make the playoffs. With the Braves ahead of them, they’re not even favored to win the NL East (+250) on DraftKings, with Atlanta at +125.
Fielding a strong squad
On the field, the Mets are fielding a formidable squad, especially with the additions of Lindor and Carrasco.
FanGraphs rates Lindor as the one of the top 10 positional players in the game, and ranks him as the third best hitter and second best defender at the shortstop position. He is a legitimate MVP candidate.
Francisco Lindor: Met! Carlos Carrasco: Met! Cleveland baseball team: [a barren windswept plain]. @DSzymborski has the immediate reaction to Thursday’s mega-deal, including ZiPS projections for Lindor and Carrasco. https://t.co/3FdMatHwnz
— FanGraphs Baseball (@fangraphs) January 7, 2021
Getting less press but of equal importance is Carrasco, who was dominant in 2017 and 2018 before being diagnosed with leukemia in 2019. He beat the disease, came back in the stretch run, and then his 2020 stats mirrored his previous highs.
He’ll start the season slated in as the no. 2 pitcher behind Jacob DeGrom, and once Noah Syndergaard comes back, that trio plus Marcus Stroman will provide a truly fearsome foursome of starting pitchers.
Another free agent signing, lefty smasher James McCann, will man the backstop, and with returning sluggers Michael Conforto and Pete Alonso anchoring the middle of the lineup, the Mets really, truly do look like a contender.
Add a George Springer to the mix, for a Springer-Lindor-Conforto-Alonso top four (in some order) and maybe Mets fans won’t be so glum when they pass each other on the streets this year.
In short: Let’s go Mets.