Ranking the Top 5 Mets stories of 2020

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Danny Abriano
·5 min read
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Mets Top 5 stories of 2020 treated image
Mets Top 5 stories of 2020 treated image

Before we flip the calendar to 2021, let's rank the top five Mets stories of 2020...

No. 5: Yoenis Cespedes opts out of the season

Before the season, there was some hope that Cespedes -- in the final year of his contract and out to prove the doubters wrong -- would be an impact bat for the Mets as the DH. But while he showed flashes, including a game-deciding home run on Opening Day, his bat speed wasn't there.

Still, the Mets kept Cespedes in their plans, playing him regularly. And then it all ended in abrupt fashion.

On Aug. 2 while the team was in Atlanta playing the Braves, Cespedes opted out of the season "due to COVID-related reasons," as then-GM Brodie Van Wagenen termed it.

The announcement of the opt-out came after hours of speculation about the whereabouts of Cespedes, with the Mets sending a security team to the hotel after being unable to contact him.

A few weeks after Cespedes opted out, SNY's Andy Martino added new insight into why Cespedes made that decision.

"Cespedes’ opt-out appeared to come as a result of a blend of persistent concerns over his contract incentives and displeasure over the way in which the Mets were using him," Martino reported. "Both concerns converged on the morning of Aug. 2, when he abandoned the team in Atlanta."

No. 4: The death of Tom Seaver

On Sept. 2, Tom Seaver died from complications of dementia and COVID-19.

The pitcher who helped vault the Mets from lovable losers to the miracle World Champions of 1969 was quite simply the face of the franchise, the greatest Met ever, and one of the best pitchers in the history of baseball.

Seaver won three Cy Young awards during his time with the Mets and entered the Hall of Fame with a Mets cap on his plaque in 1992. His No. 41 was retired in 1988.

A man who loved telling tales of his past glory and of the times he had with his teammates, Seaver was a true student of the game who would often dissect the art of pitching. After retirement, Seaver immersed himself in a new love of his that also required intricate care -- tending to his vineyards.

Along with Mike Piazza, Seaver helped close Shea Stadium after the final game there in 2008, walking across the field and exiting through the center field fence as "In My Life" by The Beatles played.

A statue of Seaver, which was announced in June of 2019, will be unveiled outside Citi Field during the 2021 season.

No. 3: Dom Smith speaks out against racial injustice

On Aug. 27, amid country-wide protests against racial injustice following the police-involved killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, the Mets and Marlins briefly took the field at Citi Field before walking off as the game was postponed.

As the teams left the field, Dom Smith and J.D. Davis walked off together, with Davis' arm around Smith. Left behind on home plate was a "Black Lives Matter" shirt.

"We’re not just going to shut up and dribble, shut up and play ball," Smith said that night. "We’re going to stand for what we believe in.”

On Aug. 26, Smith knelt on the field in protest before the game. And after the game on the 26th, Smith spoke about what it's like to be a Black man in America.

"I've been very emotional to kinda see this continuously happen. It was a long day for me. Kind of wasn't there mentally, but we'll be alright," he said. "I think the most difficult part is to see that people still don't care. For this to continuously happen, it shows just the hate in people's heart. That just sucks. Being a black man in America, it's not easy. I just wasn't there today, but I'll bounce back. I'll be fine."

No. 2: Carlos Beltran out, Luis Rojas in

On Jan. 16, following the fallout with the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox in the wake of the sign-stealing scandal the Astros orchestrated in 2017, the Mets parted ways with recently-hired manager Carlos Beltran.

Beltran, who was a player with the Astros in 2017, was the third manager who lost his job due to the scandal, following the dismissals of Alex Cora with the Red Sox and A.J. Hinch with the Astros.

On Jan. 22, the Mets hired Luis Rojas to replace Beltran.

Rojas, who had interviewed during the process that led to the hiring of Beltran, took over after an impressive rise through the ranks in the Mets' minor league system.

Cora was rehired by the Red Sox as their manager earlier this offseason, shortly after Hinch was hired to manage the Detroit Tigers. Beltran remains out of baseball.

No. 1: The arrival of Steve Cohen

On Nov. 6, after a topsy-turvy process that lasted nearly a year, Steve Cohen became the new owner of the Mets.

And in what was a sign of things to come for the Twitter-savvy Cohen, he broke the news himself.

"it's official, we are closed," he tweeted.

"This is a significant milestone in the history of this storied franchise," Cohen said after taking over. "I want to thank everybody who helped make this happen."

With Cohen on board, a new era for the Mets was ushered in. And that new era included a big piece of the past, as Sandy Alderson came on board as the team president while Brodie Van Wagenen and his lieutenants departed.

Joining Cohen and Alderson with the new look Mets is GM Jared Porter, who was hired in December and has the potential to ascend to the president of baseball operations role.

Cohen's desire is to turn the Mets into a sustainable winner that is the envy of every team in the sport. And he wants to do it by blending analytics with smart spending while at the same time rebuilding the farm system.

The above will be easier said than done, but Cohen is off to a strong start.

Honorable Mention

  • Mar. 24: Noah Syndergaard is lost for the 2020 season due to Tommy John surgery

  • Aug. 10: Marcus Stroman opts out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns

  • Aug. 28: Mets sweep Yanks in a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium, with Amed Rosario hitting a walk-off homer with the Mets as the home team