September 18, 2013

This Day in 2006

The date is September 18th, 2006 and the Mets take the field in front of their home crowd in Shea Stadium, with an opportunity to clinch the division for the first time since 1988. Manager Willie Randolph sent longest-tenured Met Steve Trachsel to the mound against the Florida Marlins and Steve Trachsel delivered, hurling 6.1 scoreless innings. The bullpen combined to toss a 4-hit shutout to clinch the divisional crown. It was the Mets 91st win of the season and put the second place Phillies back 14.5 games with only 13 games remaining.

Although I was just 11 years old on this day, I still remember it all so well, specifically the last out; a lazy fly ball to left fielder Cliff Floyd off the bat of Josh Willingham which was caught and Floyd immediately threw his arms up in the air, Billy Wagner raced off the mound and into the arms of his catcher Paul Lo Duca as the home dugout emptied onto the field to join the celebration and the crowd cheering. The Mets broke almost a 20-year division championship drought for themselves, but also ended a streak of 11 consecutive NL East crowns for the Braves.

Every day that I think of the 2006 season, I always say to myself, "That was our year." To this day I strongly believe the Mets would've won the World Series if they found a way to take game 7 from the Cardinals in the NLCS. They had a dominant lineup featuring Jose Reyes, Paul Lo Duca, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, and David Wright as well as contribution from surprise players including Jose Valentin and Endy Chavez. It was a special season for sure, but injuries to Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez which forced them both to miss the playoffs did not make it easier. Regardless, players such as John Maine and Oliver Perez stepped up in a big way, giving the Mets a chance to advance to the World Series only to fall just short.

Post-game, David Wright said, "If this is what baseball in New York is like, to me it's the best." Unfortunately for David and the Mets, baseball hasn't been that way in Queens since, as the Mets are still searching to punch their ticket into the playoffs for the first time since 2006, a drought of now 7 disappointing seasons. But regardless, this is David's home; a New York native who signed a long term contract this past off-season to remain a Met for life, is determined to bring this team and city a World Series.

As this date in Mets history brings back amazing memories, it is another opportunity for Mets fans to remain hopeful as the future is bright due to the organization's large depth of highly touted pitching prospects and plenty of money to spend in the off season it appears the losing seasons may be a thing of the past.

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