The calendar has turned to the point that proved to be the demise of the 2007 New York Mets. September has arrived once again, after an offseason filled with questions of a possible mental hangover, the Mets of this campaign appear poised to lay those demons to rest.
Entering the Summer Olympic Games a few weeks ago, the United States men’s basketball team was dubbed as being “The Redeem Team.” The tag fits perfect with the Amazin’s as well. After blowing a seven game division lead with a mere 17 games remaining on the schedule last season, the chip on this organizations shoulder is as enormous as it has ever been.
Since the June firing of Willie Randolph, it would appear as though the 2007 lackluster and half-assed swagger of this team died and Jerry Manuel has resurrected the once daily come from behind, exciting, crisp, smooth and hustling energy that was displayed in the magical 2006 season. A week ago in Florida, Monday and Tuesday evenings in Milwaukee, there is absolutely no way the Mets walk out of those games with wins two months ago.
Even with injuries to such vital players as John Maine, Billy Wagner, Ramon Castro and for a majority of the second half Ryan Church, the Mets have weathered the storm and enter play tonight with their biggest lead in the standings this season, with a chance for even more separation at the fore front. With the emergence of Daniel Murphy, Brian Stokes, and the addition of Luis Ayala, the team hasn’t skipped a beat, and has gone 19-8 since Billy Wagner was placed on the disabled list.
Approach is what matters most in this game. Whether it is at the plate, the way you go after a hitter or the way you maintain focus when the going gets rough. The entire approach of the Mets has been altered and it is totally centered on the team. They lead the majors in first inning runs, sacrifice fly’s, and productive outs, a true testament to placing winning ahead of statistical acclamation.
With three viable MVP candidates in David Wright, Jose Reyes and Carlos Delgado, who would be my pick for the award, the Mets lineup is clicking on all cylinders. Daniel Murphy is nearly impossible to retire, Ryan Church is undoubtedly rediscovering his first half stroke as demonstrated the last four games. Brian Schneider might I add has come up huge in the last few weeks, I never thought I would say such a thing.
This weekend will prove to be the most telling of any three game set the Mets have engaged in thus far. A sweep would place the Phillies six games back, and put them in almost identical position as they were a calendar year ago. Though I feel the two teams have reversed roles. The Mets have dominated the season series, have that gritty never say die attitude, while the Phillies lineup has been inconsistent in big spots, they have squandered games to terrible teams and their bullpen and starting pitching has choked down the stretch. After this weekend, destiny no longer will lie in the Phillies hands, if the Mets take care of business, the Division Crown will once again be placed in Flushing.