The Mets are close to celebrating their best moment in nine years…
The Mets could be hours away from clinching their first Natioanl League Eastern Division Championship in nine years in their 155th game on Saturday.
The media has been talking about the team’s highly probably and now all but certain playoff berth for weeks. The fans have been cautiously optimistic for the same period of time. Industry experts have also been expecting this day to come, and even higher expectations have been set by some come October.
But for Terry Collins, he has never once lost focus on the moment, the mindset he will need when the tournament begins either in Los Angeles or in Flushing in 13 days time.
“I can’t do it,” Collins said after Friday’s win gave the Mets a tie for the National League East, at worst. “That’s just not my makeup. When it’s said and done, I’ll be the happiest guy in the room. Right now I’ve got to figure out who to play, and go out there and grind it out. I don’t look too far ahead.”
It’s that mindset which has helped Collins and the Mets keep an even keel and ensure their most important task has been the game at hand. He’s kept the team’s focus off of the Nationals (even though some have admitted to be watching the scoreboard at times), off their postseason forecast, and on maintaining and building what has been and now is almost assuredly an insurmountable lead in the National League East.
But now that the magic number is down to one, the players can smell victory.
“The magic number is one now,” Noah Syndergaard said after his brilliant performance on Friday night. “WE’ve got our horse [Matt Harvey] on the mound. I have a pretty good feeling after that we are going to be celebrating. It’s an unbelievable feeling.”
Collins is equally as excited to have Harvey on the mound in a potential division clinching game.
“We’ve got our horse going,” the manager explained in his office Friday night. “If you said in Spring Training, ‘Hey, we have got a chance to clinch, who do you want on the mound?’ Matt Harvey’s name most likely would have been the named mentioned.”
The question, of course, is how long that horse will be away from it’s stable on Saturday. It probably won’t be for more than five innings, which means the Mets will need to figure out how to win this battle with the rest of the cavalry.
None the less, the players know they’re on the doorstep of something very special in Mets history.
“A very exciting time and I am blessed to be a part of this,” Lucas Duda said after his 12th career multi-home run game on Friday night.
But of all the players in that room, Saturday’s game and the potential to clinch might have an extra special purpose for David Wright, who has endured so much pain and suffering – both physically and mentally – in the nine years since the last time he got to experience such an event.
“I’ve been there once where probably the best time I’ve had on a baseball field was the playoffs in 2006, was celebrating after clinching the division, celebrating after clinching the division series,” Wright said Friday night. “Those are the best times I’ve had on a baseball field, so that is motivation for sure.”
But he’s learned to not take anything for granted. Like Collins, he won’t draw any conclusions until that magic number ticks down one last time.
“When it’s said and done I’ll be the happiest guy in the room,” the club’s captain said. “But right now I’ve got to figure out who to play and go out there [on Saturday] and grind it out.”
And on Saturday, Wright and the Mets may have the opportunity to finally excorcise the demons which have haunted them since the final out of game seven of the 2006 National League Championship, the two collapses which followed, the financial controversy which slammed the club for years, and the fumbles and follies which ensued from it.
For once the Mets won’t just be living a moment. They get to celebrate the moment.