The Mets are the National League East champions
Steve Trachsel was brilliant under pressure, offering the kind of out-of-the-blue clutch performance I always seemed to catch Bobby "Fresno" "white" Jones deliver, and John Valentin’s wild mustache ride reached it’s most important stop with a fantastic two-homer performance (both were no-doubters) as the Mets blanked the Marlins, 4-0, on Monday. It was a night frustrations recent (three failed tries at nailing down the clincher) and prolonged (an 18-year wait for a division crown) were both satisfied. Because with that tidy victory, the Mets’ magic number vanished to …
And with it, the 2006 Mets are the National League East champions.
Had the Mets not taken care of business so quickly, they could have "backed into" the NL title, with the Phillies looking ugly in an 11-6 loss to the Cubs. (As an aside, I found it hilarious when others would refer to a 90-win club with a double-digit lead as "backing into" the division crown.) The Mets lead is back to 14 1/2 games (15 in the loss column) over the Phillies with 13 to play (12 for Philly). The Mets are on pace to win 99 games.
The vibe at Shea, where I was able to enjoy the game in person, was electric, although the building didn’t shake quite like it would on occasion in the ’80s (and, particularly at the ’88 clincher, which was was lucky enough to attend as well). The Mets’ return to the top of the NL East is appreciated more than we all probably predicted it would be. The two playoff appearances (one a trip to the World Series) in what will eventually be called — if it’s not already — the Piazza Era were utterly unforgettable. But there’s a tangible difference in winning the division outright.
Whether the prolonged drought for a club that never hesitated to spend money (see: Vince Coleman, Eddie Murray, Bobby Bonilla, Bernard Gilkey) spoke more of the excellence of the Braves or of the collective futiilty of the Phillies, Marlins, Expos and Mets is a subject for debate. (The two most recent teams other than the Braves to win the NL East since the Mets last won it are now in the NL Central: the Cubs and the Pirates.)
But what can’t be questioned are the beautiful sights ahead: A new beginning for the Mets, both in the immediate — with the postseason beginning in just two weeks — and in the more distant future as the club is so very well set to begin a division winning streak of their own.
I’ve given much internal debate as to how to continue on with this blog now that the Mets have actually clinched the division, taking my lark of a project in April to an utterly convincing and satisfying conclusion. And while over the next two weeks I’ll likely return sporadically to discuss baseball and the Mets as thoughts come to me, I think it’s proper to deem a new beginning here, too.
That’s because the Mets really do have a new magic number, considering the three NLDS wins, four NLCS victories and four World Series triumphs they’ll need.
So as it stands, putting aside the balance of the regular campaign, we reset the Mets’ magic number, which is barely daunting at just …
And since I can never say it enough — LETS GO METS!