COMMENTARY | There is a lot at stake for the New York Mets heading into the 2014 season.
Since Sandy Alderson was hired as general manager, he and his front office have pointed toward this year as the one fans needed to be patient for.
The time has come and the 2014 season is upon us. Now, it's time for New York to put its money where its mouth is.
A postseason berth would be great for a starving fan base, but it shouldn't be expected of an organization that hasn't had a winning season since 2008. However, a visible step in the right direction is needed to show that 2014 is just the start of competitive baseball in Flushing.
The Mets have reached the postseason seven times since their inception back in 1962. There has been a noticeable trend prior to most of their October appearances. Prior to clinching playoff berths in 1969, 1986, 1999 and 2006, New York laid the groundwork a year or two before by changing the culture on the field.
History has repeated itself during the Mets' existence, and everyone with the organization is hoping this pattern continues as it attempts to bring playoff baseball to Citi Field.
There are a lot of parallels between this current Mets squad and the one that took the field in 1984. When Davey Johnson took over in his first season as manager, he inherited a struggling franchise.
New York hadn't been to the playoffs since 1973 and hadn't put together a winning record since 1976. During those seven straight losing seasons, the Mets didn't win more than 68 games.
There was reason for optimism as the '84 season got underway. The Mets would enjoy their first full season with Darryl Strawberry manning right field, Dwight Gooden joined the rotation as a rookie, and Keith Hernandez was also entering his first full season in Flushing. There was hope and excitement that this mix of youth and veteran players would bring in a new era of winning.
The 1984 Mets missed the playoffs, but put together a 90-72 record -- their second-highest single-season win total in team history. That ugly seven-year period of watching losing baseball at Shea was finally snapped, and there was even more optimism around the organization that the best was yet to come.
Fortunately, for New York, that was the case. The 1985 squad also missed the postseason, but went 98-64. That led to their franchise-best 108-win season in '86, which culminated in their second World Series championship.
This is the type of progression the Mets need to follow, and it needs to start this season. Having a year similar to that of 1984 would help lay the groundwork for a consistent run of competitive teams at Citi Field.
There has been an infusion of young and exciting players, such as Zack Wheeler, Travis d'Arnaud, Juan Lagares and Vic Black. With the acquisitions made so far this winter, Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon join David Wright as the veterans needed to be mixed into this group.
Work still needs to be done to get this team over the hump, but the Mets should be more than capable to be competitive throughout the summer and into the fall. If these players can record more wins than losses, it will be tangible proof that the patience of the fans over these past few years have been worth it.
With the institution of a second wild-card spot for each league, it only increases New York's chances of squeaking into the playoffs. If all goes well and the Mets get hot at the right time, they could find themselves in October as an 85-90 win team.
Alderson and the front office have made moves to put the Mets in these types of conversations. Now it's time for the players to take a page out of the 1984 book to instill some confidence in themselves and the fans that the best is yet to come.
That 1984 season was the start of the most successful run in franchise history -- seven straight winning seasons, two postseason berths and one world championship. It would only be fitting for the Mets to once again follow up one of the worst runs in team history with one of the best the organization has ever seen.
Mets.com - team records and postseason appearance information.
Matt Musico's Mets opinion has been featured on MLB Trade Rumors, Bleacher Report, MetsBlog, Amazin' Avenue and Mets Merized Online. To keep up with Matt, you can follow him on Twitter.
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