It is finally a September of meaningful – and memorable – baseball for the Mets


BaronAfter a long, tiring, and aggravating wait, meaningful games in September are finally back in Flushing.

The Mets open play on September 1 with a 73-58 record after going 20-8 in August and 25-11 since July 24, the day the Mets called up Michael Conforto and announced the acquisitions of Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson.

The Mets open play on September 1 15 games over .500, matching their high watermark for the year. They’re 6.5 games ahead of the Nationals with 31 games to go. They magic number to clinch the National League East is down to 26. They have six games remaining with Washington beginning with a three-game series at Nationals Park September 7-9.

The Mets open play on September 1 with a better record than the Yankees, albeit by just one win. But that one win has a significance, as it symbolizes a difference in the conversation about each club. The 73 wins through 131 games for the Mets represent hope and promise for the month which lies ahead. The 72 wins in 130 games for the Yankees only seems problematic, at best.

The Mets open play on September 1 primed for their first division title in nine years with the hopes and dreams of the late 1980s being revived with each inspiring win.

Oh yes, the Mets open play on September 1 playing meaningful, relevant pennant race baseball, leading this race now by more than a stride.

“The biggest difference is July 31 we made some moves that brought some energy, brought some enthusiasm to this team, in the clubhouse and on the field and I think it spread,” manager Terry Collins said after another win over the Phillies on Monday night at Citi Field.

They sure did. 

The moves also represent a renewed faith in an organization which has sputtered through some very dark times over the years. They showed the players in the clubhouse and the fans who help pay their salaries there is a reason to make investments in the 2015 Mets, as they themselves finally believe in their own product, and that the time has finally come to flip the switch, live in the moment, and change the discussion from being about tomorrow into an emphasis on today.

“You look at our puzzle,” Curtis Granderson said after Monday’s win, “and now it’s a little more complete.”

Forget the record for a short second, and just look at the transformation of the roster, as Collins said. Ownership and the front office have added six new players from the outside since July 24, seven if Conforto is (and should) be included.

How can that not excite and re-energize the clubhouse? And each of the newbies have been involved in their new formula for winning, which went from hoping to score four runs and not fall behind to out-slugging the opposition on any given night.

They’ve done so well over the last five weeks, they’ve put Washington in a precarious position. If the Mets go 17-14 the rest of the way, the Nationals would need to go 25-7 to overtake the Mets for the division crown.

With their remaining schedule, the Mets should be better than 17-14. And Washington isn’t going to run the table.

That’s a refreshing perspective.

The foundation was there from the beginning, and now they’ve made their best-effort to bring home a championship with not only their additions, but by the new mentality they have with their roster management and roster building. There’s finally a sense of urgency and a desire to seize the moment, as they clearly recognize the opportunity at hand to not only steal the National League East from the fast-talking Nationals, but to rock the baseball world with their first-rate starting rotation and a retro-fitted roster capable of matching up with most any team in the league for a deep run into October in any inning of every game.

Just look at the 32 wins the Mets have when trailing in a game, ten of which came in August as at least part of the proof.

Not bad for a group of people so many have doubted and challenged – even industry insiders – since they crumbled Shea Stadium to the ground in the fall of 2008. They deserve credit for their leap of faith and the investment into this roster for 2015.

It’s hard not to look back on the month of July when the Mets were tasked with their most difficult trial of the season, facing one top club after the next, with some doubts Collins would even survive their trip to Los Angeles and San Francisco. But indeed, the Mets survived, persevered against the National League’s most difficult opponents, and came out better in the end of the month than they entered, albeit by one game.

But clearly, it was that month which injected the entire organization with belief that with some help, this could be a special year.

Now that the roster is primed, they’re now tasked with making at least some of September a meaningless exhibition: the final three games of the season against the Nationals at Citi Field.

Keep winning, and they will be back to playing meaningless September baseball games, for the right reasons.

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