In 2022, the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves gave us one of the most exhilarating and heated divisional races in recent memory, stoking the fires of a historic rivalry.
The New York Mets and Atlanta Braves have a rivalry that stretches back decades but 2022 took things to a whole new level. They finished the regular season as two of the best teams in baseball but playing in the same division meant a battle for supremacy that lasted, literally, for all 162 games.
As part of our Fandoms of the Year project, we’re taking this week to celebrate some of the best rivalries of 2022. To get more perspective on the New York Mets vs. Atlanta Braves rivalry, and what it felt like to be on either side of it in 2022, we’re turning it over to some of their biggest fans.
The New York Mets perspective
The 2022 New York Mets season started off as every year does. The Mets were in first place with an even 0-0 record shared by all 30 baseball clubs. The difference was that the Mets took sole possession of first place only a few days after Opening Day and held onto it for nearly every day of the season. It took until Game 161 for them to finally see their chances at the division disappear.
The one serious challenger throughout the year was the greatest rival in Mets history, the Atlanta Braves. These two clubs have battled many times in the regular season and even traded fists in the postseason twice before.
Unfortunately, there would be no rubber match in 2022. The Mets were defeated 2-1 in the National League Wild Card by the San Diego Padres during which Braves fans had plenty of time to gloat and pound their chests only to see themselves suffer a similar fate not long after. Nonetheless, the 2022 MLB season gave a new generation of fans of both teams a reason to root against the other.
Both teams had a lot of new guys on the roster for the 2022 season. The Mets chose to go in the direction of bringing in seasoned veterans like Mark Canha, Starling Marte, and Eduardo Escobar who were first introduced to this rivalry. Oh, and there was this other guy named Max Scherzer that signed up to face the Braves regularly, too.
Meanwhile, Atlanta did introduce Mets fans to some new players to boo. Some were veteran additions while others were promising rookies they promoted. Spencer Strider endeared himself to Mets fans in the most villainous of ways by insinuating that they were “lucky” to beat him.
Braves players were definitely a nuisance. From Willson Contreras vs. Edwin Diaz in the “who had Timmy Trumpets first?” debate to a more baseball-centric rivalry on the field, Mets and Braves fans witnessed something brand new in 2022.
We can thank social media for helping to ignite this rivalry further. While we’ve all exchanged words with fans of other teams in recent years on social media, this is the first time since those apps took over our lives that both teams were very good. It helped make the battle between the Mets and Braves a 24/7 event. No one had to throw a single pitch for the sports rivalry to march on.
Both amazingly and frustratingly enough, both teams would win 101 games in the regular season only to win just one in the playoffs before being eliminated. The Mets took one on the chin from the San Diego Padres. Less than a week later, the Braves tapped out to the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Mets and Braves combined to win 202 games in 2022 and then only won two more games in the postseason. There is poetry to the numbers.
If you thought this was only the end, you’re very wrong. The Mets and Braves will be back at it again in 2023. This is just the beginning of a reignited rivalry between two teams sure to compete for the rest of the decade.
The Atlanta Braves perspective
There is nothing like when the Braves and Mets are good at the same time, as we saw the best year of the rivalry since 2000.
Atlanta was the four-time reigning division champs, having won its first World Series since 1995. New York had not made the postseason in years. Blessed with deep pockets, the Mets were about to be Amazin’.
This was one of those seasons where everybody knew Atlanta and New York would be outstanding. Throughout the course of 162, the most significant chapter in their rivalry was penned.
Atlanta’s slow start combined with New York’s hot one led to Sal Licata proclaiming over Memorial Day Weekend, “The NL East is over!” New York held a 10.5-game lead over Atlanta. That’s when everything changed for the better in Atlanta.
Atlanta won 14 in a row after Licata’s comments. The deficit was cut, but Atlanta could never quite overtake New York, setting up a division race for the ages. The Braves played better, but the Mets did not slow down. Scoreboard watching was at an all-time high. We couldn’t hear the bell, as the trumpets were blaring.
“Narco” struck a chord with Edwin Diaz and William Contreras. Diaz entered games to it, while Contreras would walk up to it. Timmy Trumpet sided with the Mets, but the Braves still blasted the trumpets anyway…
There were two series that redefined the rivalry: The five-gamer in Flushing and the final three in Atlanta.
The Braves dropped four of five in Queens. Needing to sweep the Mets at home to win the division, Atlanta pulled it off. The Braves needed one more win or one more Mets loss to seal the deal. New York won out, but Atlanta proclaimed divisional victory in Miami.
As Atlanta secured a bye, New York hosted the Padres in the Wild Card Series. San Diego ended New York’s season, one in which the Mets won 101 games and not the division.
Too bad the Braves’ season ended not long after. They ran into the red-hot Phillies, who crushed Atlanta in the NLDS.
World Series be damned, the season-long battle between the Braves and Mets will never be forgotten. Nothing is over until it’s over, or until you run out of gas…
Regardless, Braves fans can always look at that 2022 banner and laugh.
Not since the Baby Braves or Worst-to-First has a division title been so satisfying.