It's time now. We've all been through this together. We saw the great things, like frigid Opening Day and Paul lo Duca faking the tag. We saw Cliff Floyd smash a game-tier against Chris Reitsma, while David Wright won it later. We saw David Wright beating Mariano Rivera, with Wagner slamming the door in the freezing night on Sunday. We saw Pedro Martinez win his 200th game. We saw Carlos Delgado hit his 400th home run. We all watched the wicked westward road trip, where the Mets couldn't do anything but score runs. And we watched scoreless innings streaks from Duaner Sanchez and John Maine. We saw Lastings Milledge and his game-ending sprint from third, and we saw him high-five everyone. We saw Jose Reyes jack three balls one night and then hit for the cycle another. Remember that night where they had the eleven-run inning? Two grand slams? And then another one the next day? And we saw that Carlos Beltran walk-off against Jason Isringhausen. We also had the clincher.
And sure, we've seen our bad things, as well. We suffered through Jose Lima and Geremi (that's how he spells it now) Gonzalez, not to mention Alay Soler. We watched Cliff Floyd roll his ankle, and we saw Pedro get hurt about twenty times, the worst of which was a savage beating in Boston, where we saw the problems with Firstings. And we've seen other badness too, like Billy Wagner being defeated at the hands of the Yankees; Aaron Heilman's slippery fingers against the Phillies or Trevor Hoffman blowing the All-Star Game.
But never once, did we, as Mets fans, question our faith. This was our year. We suffered through Wilson Delgado and Karim Garcia. We had to deal with Bobby Valentine's impression of a stoned hitter, Fred Wilpon talking about "Skill Sets" while lowballing Vlad Guerrero and Alex Rodriguez and Art Howe's hyper-conservative style of managing where everyone except Kaz Matsui got hurt.
It's been a long time since 2000, and an even longer time since 1988. The Mets still have old friends from October, with Al Leiter in the Yankee booth and Kenny Rogers taking the hill for Detroit. And let's not forget who will be receiving for the Mets' likely NLCS opponent.
In a lot of ways, this is a new and improved October, complete with weaker NL competition and a Mets team that no longer has anything to prove against their Atlantan brethren. This is their time. Maybe that was the point of the slogan: The Team, The Time, The Mets. Even though I didn't like that stupid song, which surely you remember, the slogan is now ringing true.
This is not "The Worst Team Money Could Buy." Bobby Bonilla and Mo Vaughn might still be on our payroll, but there's no sign of those evildoers anymore. And who knows? With Joe Girardi, Frank Robinson, Felipe Alou and Dusty Baker already fired, maybe Art Howe or Bobby V. could come up for a managerial position. Hell, maybe Jeff Torborg and Dallas Green aren't too busy these days.
The Mets, as well, are no longer living in the Yankees' shadow. Maybe this is what's of most importance. Some have noted that New York was always a National League town; a Mets town. The Mets outdrew the Yankees in their early days, and they did so right up until the Yankees' recent run of dominance in the 1990s. The Mets will not outdraw the Yankees this year, and the new stadium in Flushing will be smaller than Shea, but it is unquestionably a change from the old times.
Who wouldn't want to go see a Mets game right now? You've got Reyes, Delgado, Beltran and Wright for excitement value, and you've got Floyd, Green, Lo Duca and Valentin for support. And hell, you've got Glavine on the hill. He's pretty exciting.
I would like nothing less than to sound like a long-winded ancient baseball guy, who idolizes Rogers Hornsby or whatever, but there's nothing better than October.
Except when the Mets are part of it.
I won my fantasy baseball league. Anyone proud of me? Didn't think so.
Morning Paper Roundup:
Mike Vaccaro says the Mets should bench Cliff in favor of Endy Chavez.
Kevin Kernan breaks down the NLDS, while Mark Hale does a position-by-position breakdown.
Lee Jenkins reminds us of the great postseason had by Carlos Beltran in 2004 when he was with Houston.
Adam Rubin says that Pedro's absence isn't huge, while Bill Madden goes on to pick the Dodgers in five.
Are you pumped for the playoffs yet? If you need any extra motivation to beat LA, read this game recap from 1988.
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