As 2012 comes to a close, the New York Mets once again do not have a championship to ring in the New Year with. In spite of that disappointment, the year was filled with a lot of memories for the Mets. As we close the book on 2012, let's take a look back at the 12 biggest stories surrounding the Amazin's in 2012. In no particular order, here are the 12 big Mets stories of 2012:
Gary Carter Passes Away:
One of the more tragic turns of 2012 was watching Gary Carter lose his battle with a rare form of brain cancer. Carter passed away on February 16, 2012 after battling the disease for nearly a year. Carter, who was only 57 years old, was a great player for the Mets and an even greater man off the field. The Mets honored Carter's memory for the 2012 season by wearing a commemorative patch on their uniforms.
The Madoff Saga Comes to An End:
The Mets, and their fans, had a major black cloud hanging over the franchise since 2010 due to owner Fred Wilpon's potential involvement in the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme. The team's payroll began to shrink amid rumors that ownership had lost a lot of money in Madoff's scheme, and the Wilpons faced a one billion dollar lawsuit from trustee Irving Picard arguing that the Mets owners knew what they were getting into and seeking retributions. Wilpon and Picard reached a settlement in late March that was favorable for the Mets owners and allowed focus to return to the field.
Johan Santana's Triumphant Return:
After missing over a year rehabbing a torn capsule injury in his left pitching shoulder, Johan Santana made his triumphant return to the Mets starting rotation. Santana made it through spring training and was given the start on Opening Day against the Atlanta Braves. Santana displayed a return to vintage form, pitching six shutout innings as the Mets defeated the Braves 1-0 at Citi Field.
R.A. Dickey Ascends:
While most of the attention focused on Johan Santana's return, R.A. Dickey set out on what was destined to be one of the finest seasons in New York Mets history. Dickey followed Santana's gem on Opening Day by delivering a win of his own in the season's second game, and began to build momentum towards a breakout campaign. Dickey was a solid pitcher in the season's opening months, but began to take off towards the end of May.
Johan Santana Throws the First No-Hitter in Team History:
No Mets fan will ever forget June 1st, 2012. That night would mark the end of the franchise's 50 year drought without a no hitter. The man to end the streak would be none other than Johan Santana, who delivered the franchise's first no-no in an 8-0 rout over the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals. The no-no was not without controversy, as former Met Carlos Beltran hit a shot down the third base line in the sixth inning that was ruled foul by third base umpire Adrian Johnson. The ball looked to have landed on the chalk for what should have been a double, but Beltran eventually grounded out. The no-hitter ended up being a pyrrhic victory for the Mets as it ended a frustrating drought at a tremendous cost: Santana, who had thrown a career high 134 pitches that night, was never the same after that night.
R.A. Dickey Becomes the Best Pitcher in the Game:
No one thought anyone would be able to outdo Johan Santana following his no-hitter. R.A. Dickey came pretty close. Dickey put together one of the most remarkable stretches in major league history, winning six straight starts while going no fewer than seven innings in any of them. Dickey threw three shutouts, piled up 63 strikeouts, and highlighted the stretch by throwing back to back one hitters in June against the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles. The start against the Orioles was one of the team's finest pitching performances all season, as Dickey threw a complete game one hitter and struck out a whopping 13 Baltimore hitters. Dickey became the first pitcher to throw back to back one hitters since Dave Stieb did it for Toronto in 1988, the strong performances established Dickey as the front runner for the National League Cy Young Award.
The Mets ended up sending two representatives to the All Star Game in Kansas City. One was R.A. Dickey, who entered the All Star Break with a 12-1 record to go along with a 2.15 ERA. The other was third baseman David Wright, who made his sixth appearance on the team after hitting .355 for the first half with nine home runs and 50 RBI's. Wright got selected by the players after a last minute stuffing of the ballot box by Giants fans saw San Francisco third baseman Pablo Sandoval get elected to start the game. Dickey was similarly snubbed for a start, this time by traditionalist manager Tony La Russa, who chose Matt Cain to start the game due to fear that Buster Posey couldn't handle the knuckleball. Dickey ended up pitching a scoreless sixth in the affair.
The All Star Game Returns to Flushing:
Mets fans could look towards 2013 with excitement as Major League Baseball announced the 2013 All Star Game would be played at Citi Field. The game, which will be played on July 16, 2013, will return to Queens for the first time since 1964. The last time the Mets had hosted the game was in Shea Stadium's first season, and the Mets expected to receive the game soon after the opening of Citi Field.
David Wright Re-Writes the Record Books:
2012 would be a remarkable year for David Wright, who re-wrote several of the Mets' all time records. Wright surpassed Darryl Strawberry as the team's all time RBI leader early in the season, and he ended up passing Ed Kranepool as the franchise's all time hit leader on September 26th in a 6-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Wright is at or near the top of nearly all Mets offensive records and 2012 helped put him in position to become the greatest position player in franchise history.
R.A. Dickey Wins 20 Games and the Cy Young Award:
R.A. Dickey would complete one of the greatest seasons in franchise history by winning his 20th game on September 27th in the home finale against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Dickey, who finished 2012 with a 20-6 record and a 2.73 ERA, would see his tremendous efforts recognized by the baseball world when he was named the National League Cy Young Award winner in November. Dickey's remarkable run gave the Mets a surprise Cy Young winner and an intriguing dilemma to deal with in the offseason.
David Wright Becomes a Met for Life:
The face of the franchise, David Wright, decided to stick around for (almost) the rest of his career. Wright and the team agreed to an eight year, 138 million dollar contract extension on November 30th to keep Wright in Queens for another eight seasons. Wright's decision gave the franchise it's first true face since Tom Seaver and allowed GM Sandy Alderson to move forward in his rebuilding plan with David Wright as a cornerstone piece.
R.A. Dickey Gets Traded to the Toronto Blue Jays:
R.A. Dickey did not have the same happy ending with the Mets as David Wright did. After negotiations on a contract extension began to drag out, Dickey chose to air his grievances over the pace of the talks at a team holiday party for children affected by Hurricane Sandy. The move did not sit well with upper management, and soon afterwards trade talks accelerated at a rapid pace. The team eventually traded the Cy Young winner (along with catchers Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas) to the Toronto Blue Jays for big league catcher John Buck and a trio of prospects headlined by top catching prospect Travis D'Arnaud. While the Mets and their fans will certainly miss Dickey, D'Arnaud has the potential to become the team's backstop for the next decade.
As the year comes to a close, the Mets will certainly remember 2012 for a lot of reasons and can hope to make 2013 an even better year. We hope the same is true for all of you and, on behalf of everybody here at Mets 101, we wish you a Happy New Year and hope you stick with us for all of your Mets coverage in 2013!
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