Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Mets Take Wrigley by Storm

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Mets Take Wrigley by Storm

Article excerpt

CHICAGO - The joy of this Mets postseason run is personified in their young baseball stars, by the exuberance and enthusiasm of players like Jacob deGrom.

The 27-year-old Major League sophomore was supposed to be nervous as he took the mound Tuesday night in Chicago, wasn't he? Wasn't he meant to be battling a sleepless night and stomach-churning butterflies in advance of Game 3 of the National League Championship Series at famed Wrigley Field?

But there was deGrom Monday, taking fellow young teammate Steven Matz on a personal tour of the Cubs' iconic ballpark, using part of the team's off-day to climb the stands all the way to the top of Wrigley's old wooden center field scoreboard.

So what if he was about to put the Mets on the brink of their first World Series appearance since 2000, to keep their dream alive of winning their first title since 1986, to push the Mets to a nervy, tension-filled 5-2 win over the Cubs? So what if it's now Matz's turn to take the ball, if these two men with less than three years' combined big-league experience can deliver a stunning series sweep?

There was fun to be had, and they weren't going to miss it.

"Yeah, we got up to the scoreboard, looked around, checked out all the scenery and stuff, so it was pretty cool," Matz said. "I just think on how old it is. I just think it's really cool. So we just wanted to check it out and soak it in as much as we can. We had some free time."

One more win tonight, and the Mets will earn a few more days of free time, not resuming play until Game 1 of the World Series next Tuesday in either Kansas City or Toronto. One more win tonight, and the Mets push the Cubs into a long off-season of disappointment, extending the longest championship drought of any major North American professional sports team to 108 years.

One more win tonight and the Mets underscore what has defined this postseason ride, what moments like that off-day hike to the scoreboard tell us about their mind-set: No matter the stakes, they refuse to forget they are playing a game.

Yes, it's their livelihood. And yes, they carry the hopes and dreams of a long-starved fan base with them. But baseball is as much their passion as it is their job, and that is the daily ethos they bring to the park.

Even the visiting ones.

And what a visiting one this is, where the Mets hadn't won in more than two years, since May 19, 2013; where the building itself is as much a player in the game as the nine men suited up for each team. As much as there is appreciation for all that is quaint and cuddly about the Major Leagues' second-oldest ballpark, there is more than nostalgia to this neighborhood building erected in 1914.

Those ivy-covered walls that line the outfield, the lush green carpets of foliage that are perhaps the park's most identifying characteristic? …

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