NEW YORK METS: Answering a beleaguered owner's call...
A little over a decade ago, Fred Wilpon did himself no favors when he infamously sulked,
"I just want to play meaningful games in September."
That remained a sarcastic, oft used fan and media catch phrase ever since - trending long before #hashtags were ever invented.
He still catches a lot of flack over it.
Nevertheless, after posting a 20-8 record this past August, the Mets will be doing just that.
In fact, the Mets will be playing very meaningful games in September for only the fourth time since Fred Wilpon bought out his former partner back in 2002.
One need refer back to the years spanning 2006-2008 for the last time though. Those Mets cost Mr. Wilpon a small fortune to maintain. Then of course, his piggy bank broke.
Both club and fans endured many lean years together since - six straight losing seasons to be exact.
After much demolition and rebuilding, Sandy Alderson originally set 2014 as his target for playoff contention. With or without Matt Harvey (lost to Tommy John surgery), Alderson's due date was agreeably premature.
Last season nonetheless proved invaluable with regards to several players gaining major league experience. Look no further than Jacob deGrom, Jeurys Familia, Juan Lagares, Lucas Duda, Wilmer Flores, Travis d'Arnaud, and the like.
Confounding injuries have been numerous to say the least, forcing the 2015 Mets to rely on a transient 25-man roster patched together with an exhaustive list of revolving prospects - some obviously more touted than others.
As if on schedule, the collective young talent played well enough to keep the team in contention throughout July, which effectively forced upper management into making roster enhancements, or risk a severe fan backlash - particularly at the gate.
Seizing the moment, Sandy Alderson negotiated several well executed trade deadline acquisitions.
Today, the New York Mets now own the high ground.
The Mets start the day with a 6 game lead over the Washington Nationals.
They have 29 games remaining on their schedule, with six against the Nats, including the season's finale at Citi Field.
There is still one more Subway Series to play, and a four game set in Cincinnati.
Otherwise, the balance of their games will be against the N.L. East. Competition wise, that's good news for the Mets.
All is seemingly conspiring to place the Mets in the driver's seat. That said, it's time to hit the road again. The Mets open a 10-game road trip tonight in Miami.
- Sept. 4-6 @ Miami
- Sept. 7-9 @ Washinton
- Sept. 10-13 @ Atlanta
Their overall 29-35 road record, while vastly improved, is an inconsequential matter. They posted a dismal 15-28 record in the season's first half. But since returning from the all-star break, they've gone 14-7, and posted an impressive 8-1 mark during their last trip. The objective is to stay at, or above .500 from this moment forward.
Of course, the looming series in Washington against the Nationals is priority one. Till then the Mets want to take 2 of 3 from the Fish, while the Nationals hopefully comply with at least 2 losses against the Braves.
Much can happen between now and season's end, much less by this coming Monday. But, dare I say this division is now the Mets to lose.
Remember, it took Frank Cashen seven years before the Mets played in the post-season.
The Mets still have a ways to go, but if in fact they do qualify for the playoffs, Sandy Alderson will have achieved it in five years, and on a shoestring budget to boot.
Let's hit the road and get this done.