The Mets are going to be playing for first place this weekend. Not against the Phillies, but against a resurgent Braves team that is making it feel like the early part of the decade when these two teams were battling for NL East dominance. And if Jonathan Niese and the Mets can take the rubber game against the Reds tonight, it won’t matter what the Braves do in Philly–the Mets will be 1 or 2 games back of Atlanta heading into the teams’ showdown this weekend at Citi Field.
It sure has been a while since the Mets were playing for the division lead this late in the season. And this time it feels different, not only because we’re battling the Braves for supremacy, but because this team was not expected by most people to contend. I was one of those folks, and even suggested they might be a last place team. And I have no problem admitting I was wrong and being quite happy about being wrong. This is a team that has played above its collective head, or at least played up to its potential. And even when we lose a couple games, we win a few more. There is just something special about the roster as it’s constructed right now.
There are questions, yes. Will Mike Pelfrey get it back together after his Monday night implosion? Will K-Rod also stop imploding? How will Carlos Beltran be able to contribute after major surgery? And was Johan’s gem last night the shape of things to come or not? And of course, will Cliff Lee or Roy Oswalt be wearing Mets’ blue any time soon?
I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I sure do like that we’re asking them in mid-July. Let’s go beat the Reds tonight, and then let’s sweep the Braves and really make a statement heading into the all-star break.