When the Mets lost on Sunday night to end the World Series, a few players watched the Royals celebrate a bit from the dugout and then, I presume, slowly moped on into the clubhouse. I haven’t read any of their post-game interviews but I’m sure a a few players said things like, “We gave it all we had, we just came up a bit short to a great team, etc.” You know the routine. The 2015 Mets will soon fall in line with the other World Series runners-up and be relegated to a historical footnote as the “other” team. The guys who didn’t win. That is, unless, when Game 5 ended they had celebrated as if they had won.
To be clear about what I mean by “celebrated as if they had won,” I’m not referring to some accident or a series of indescribable and confusing events in which the Mets mistakenly believed they had won – although I’m not sure what that would even entail.
I’m not referring to the Mets knowing they had lost and interrupting the on-field celebration to congratulate the Royals. This happened in the 2004 NLDS when the Dodgers came out of the dugout to shake hands with the Cardinals after having just been defeated in four games. It was apparently an agreed upon concept before the series began and was Larry Walker’s idea, which, you already knew because only a Canadian would come up with that idea.
I’m not referring to the Mets celebrating on the field as a way to appreciate having won the pennant, or an act of acknowledgement that they’ll probably be back. (Although this would maybe be valid. According to our own Rob Mains, since divisional play began in 1969, the team who won the World Series has had to wait, on average, 12.9 years before winning another championship (using a default year of 2016 for every team that hasn’t returned to the World Series). On the other hand, the team who lost the World Series only had to wait an average of 11.7 years. So a World Series loss is worth celebrating: It means the losing team will, odds are, be hoisting the WS trophy sooner than the winners. Congrats, Mets!)
And I’m not referring to one final curtain call for an appreciative home crowd, like what we recently saw after the Cubs were eliminated by the Mets in front of the Wrigley faithful.
No, what I mean is a team-wide calculated conspiracy to behave like maniacal bad sports, the sorest of losers. What I mean is as soon as Wade Davis struck out Wilmer Flores to end the series, the Mets running onto the field right alongside the Royals and forming one of those wonderful celebratory human piles, with shrieks of “We did it!,” and Terry Collins getting doused with Gatorade. (Side note: I love those human piles. It’s like a tornado of tangled arms and legs – just one giant heap of elation. Watch the Mets below violently celebrate the final out of the 1986 World Series. Looks fun, right? And no other sport does this. When a team wins the NBA Championship – assuming it’s not on a last second shot – the players just sort of raise their arms in the air, exchange some high-fives and maybe some hugs. In football it’s even less pronounced. Minus the trophy ceremony, it’s hard to distinguish the end of a regular season game versus the end of the Super Bowl.)
This is all rather unorthodox so it’s fair to ask a couple of questions, such as:
Now why would the Mets do this?
Good question. I don’t know. Maybe to be funny and weird. Because it would be damn funny and damn weird. But most likely they’d do it to be petty and in the name of revenge. Let’s pretend the bad blood from Noah Syndergaard’s pitch in Game 3 became so toxic the Mets wanted to take away from the Royals’ big moment. This would absolutely do it. I know this because when I was in the 7th grade we played the 8th graders in whiffle ball in gym class and they mopped the floor with us. Instead of handling the loss with dignity, I, along with several friends, started a chant of “We won! We won! We won!” while changing in the locker room. The 8th graders were completely nonplussed. One guy even came down to our side of the locker room and threatened to fight all of us. We ruined their victory. It felt good.
What would this actually look like in practice?
When Game 5 ended on Sunday, most of the Royals met Wade Davis near the mound for the celebratory human pile. That’s how it usually works when the victorious team wins while on the field, especially when it ends with a strikeout. If the winning team wins on a walk-off hit, the celebration usually happens at home plate when the winning run is scored but can sometimes splinter off to a second separate celebration near the batter who, by this point, is usually rounding first base. This happened when Luis Gonzalez hit a single to win the 2001 World Series.
There’s obviously no precedent for a team celebrating the fact that they lost the World Series so it’s hard to determine exactly where on the field the Mets would choose to congregate. Perhaps if someone had been on base when Flores struck out to end Game 5 the team would be pulled in that direction. However, the bases were empty. So, on strike three, the Mets would most likely spill out of the dugout and intercept Flores near home plate and start celebrating. Just imagine the scene. Two 25-man teams, plus staff, about 60-feet apart (ask Syndergaard) and behaving in typical “we just won the World Series” fashion. It’s quite likely that Royals and Mets would eventually intersect with one another and that’s when things would get interesting. Would they form one big, two-team pile, with squads completely indistinguishable from one another? Would they start fighting? Frankly, I don’t know. Neither would Fox camera crews and on-field reporters. Joe Buck, Harold Reynolds, and Tom Verducci would be in the booth trying to articulate the scene and they would be failing. I honestly think it would be the most perplexing moment in all of sports history.
How long would this charade last?
Who knows. In my head I imagine the Mets would continue to jump around and celebrate on the field for as long as is customary (or until they are removed by the authorities) and that this episode ends after they head into the clubhouse to spray each other with champagne but before a parade is organized.
How would the remaining fans at Citi Field respond?
Hard to say but they’d likely be just as confused as the rest of us watching at home, if not more so. Most would just stare at their Twitter feed for an explanation even though they’d be missing the history being made right before their eyes. A few would have to think really hard: Hold up, did we win?
How would the collective nation respond?
Poorly. There would be a public outcry for a full-scale investigation. “Sportsmanship” would immediately become a national issue. Someone at the Washington Post would write a column about how hard it was to look their kid in the eye and tell them what happened. The New York Post would splash THE ACRIMONIOUS METS! across the front page the next day. That nickname would forever stick to the 2015 Mets and somewhere down the road a movie would be made with the same title. The movie would not be good.
How would Major League Baseball respond?
Swiftly. The Mets would make plenty of history celebrating a World Series loss because they’d be the first and last team to ever do it. Commissioner Rob Manfred would issue stiff fines across the organization. If a ringleader was ever snuffed out they would be suspended for the following season all in the name of precedent. The NBA overreacted to on-court fighting by creating a rule that any player who leaves the immediate bench area during a skirmish is hit with a minimum one-game suspension but that would be nothing compared to the aftermath here. MLB would have a new rule that the losing team must immediately evacuate the playing field after a loss or be arrested for trespassing. The rule would probably prohibit eye contact with the winning team while leaving the field as well.
So should the Mets have actually pretended to have won the World Series?
No. It’s a pretty dumb idea.Next post: ‘Tis Better to Have Played and Lost
Previous post: 9 Innings of Nightmares: The Scariest Baseball Moments of 2015