There Are Still Playoff Hopes To Be Found — In Kingsport
As the New York Mets season all but came to a close this week with Daniel Murphy and Jose Reyes landing on the disabled list alongside their hobbled teammates, Johan Santana and Ike Davis, there still remains a case of optimism for the faithful. Outside of Flushing, there’s a pennant race brewing and the Kingsport Mets are right in the thick of it. Currently two games behind the Elizabethton Twins, the Rookie League Metropolitans affiliate is on a tear, winning six out of their last seven with one more game still to play against the lowly Pulaski Mariners.
Though Manager Frank Fultz has his team only a game over .500, the Western Division throws its top two teams into the Appalachian League playoff system at the end of the season, which concludes later this month. Ninety feet away being the division’s runner-up, there still lies plenty of opportunity for the Mets to grab that brass ring as they close out the year taking on a variety of sub-.500 teams. Backing into the playoffs after a defeating a string of losing teams isn’t the best way to get there, but as Kingsport’s confidence continues to grow and it’s pitching, which has been lagging most of the season, finally comes into its own, there’s hope for future domination in this short-seasoned summer league.
Leading the charge for the team this year has been star outfielder, Julio Concepcion. A native of the Dominican Republic, Concepcion’s number don’t lie. Near the top of the league in hits (57) and average(.324), Julio’s never been one to hit for power, but it’s his consistency both at the plate and in the field that has turned this life-long Met into a leader and a Major League hopeful. The same is to be said for ace starting pitcher Brett Mitchell, whose 5 wins puts him atop the pitching leader board while nearly averaging one strikeout per inning. These two are certainly ones to watch.
To those unfamiliar with the Tennessee team, the Mets have called Kingsport home for the last 31 years with the likes of current club members, David Wright and Jose Reyes, passing through and ’86 heroes, Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden, once calling it home. Approximately three hundred miles west of Nashville, the team resides in Hunter Wright Stadium and has done so since 1995. If you ever get a chance to get down there, be sure to grab their local delicacy, Mets Pie, a caloric giant filled with chili, sour cream, salsa and jalapeños among other fatty treats. Don’t let your waistband tell you that we didn’t warn you.
Kingsport still has 19 games left in the season, including a series against Eastern Division leaders, the Danville Braves, but if the momentum of this team means anything they’ll be traveling back and forth to Elizabethton after Labor Day and will let their fate be decided in the post-season.