There are several ways to win a Division Title. The Dodgers and Cardinals did it by pretty much leading wire to wire competing mainly against themselves. Another way is what the Rangers are doing to the Astros with their late surge “got you last” game of tag against a team that seemed destined to fade. The New York Mets did it the old fashioned way……grinding it out and always looking over their shoulders at the Nationals who were virtually everyone’s pre season pick to win – except they didn’t – the Mets did.
You may recall the torrid start to the season when they opened the eyes of many and perhaps even their own eyes. Hope was the buzzword back then as in “Hey, maybe we do have a pretty good team here”. That hope turned downright nasty though in June when they lost seven in a row and dipped below .500. The swoon continued into July as scoring four runs in a game was considered an outburst while the young arms tried to hold the team together. This writer included pleaded with Sandy Alderson (right) to make a move to get a big bat or two at the trading deadline. Meanwhile Terry Collins (left) the Manager of the Year ( he should be) kept a cool confident air even though he must have been thinking to himself “S__t, this is my job on the line here”.
The rest is pretty much as they say (recent) history. Alderson did get the big bat in Cespedes (below) with minutes to spare while picking up two quality relievers in Tyler Clippard and Addison Reed. Along the way, he also solidified the bench with Ryan Franklin and Uribe. And……….in perhaps the most important development David Wright (right), the Captain of the team came back with a home run in his first game and at bat. Suddenly, there was fresh air to breathe, The Mets came to a fork in the road and they not only took it (as their former Manager Yogi Berra said) – they seized it. They not only survived the long haul of a baseball season but they have emerged as a team knit tightly together and one with battle wounds to prove it.
So now, the Mets have a little more than a week to prepare and repair their regulars (give Wright, Murphy, Granderson a blow), rest the bullpen and especially Familia, and get that all important starting rotation in order and ready for a all out attack throwing pitch counts and innings off the table. Matching (in order) DeGrom ( left), Syndegaard, Harvey (right), and Matz against Clayton Kershaw, Zach Greineke, and……let me see who else……….. leaves the Mets with a bit more than hope at this stage of the season. Don’t be surprised if you see Kershaw and Greinke in games four and five for that reason. It’s the crapshoot playoffs and it will be fun watching the Mets take the stage.