By Joseph Staszewski
It’s not time to start yelling “You gotta believe” through the streets of New York City just yet, but the New York Mets certainly have made themselves a must-watch for the second half of the regular season.
NBA free agency has cooled off, the World Cup is over and the only reason right now to tune into the New York Yankees could be that they’re headed for the second-straight season without making the playoffs.
The Mets, on the other hand, have infused a little bit of life in their campaign that three weeks ago appeared headed toward another disappointing end. The Amazin’s played their best baseball of the season during an 8-2 home stand before the All-Star break to move them five games under .500 into third place and just seven games behind the division-leading Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals.
They stumbled out of the game after the break, but played entertaining baseball.
Banking on a run at the division title is still premature, but that doesn’t mean you should take your eyes off this team. Lord knows Mets fans have needed a reason to tune in other than the occasional Matt Harvey start since 2008. The team has had some strong beginnings to seasons before floundering late in recent years. This could be the time the trend reverses itself in an NL East Division currently without an elite team.
I’ve joked that baseball isn’t as fun to watch without juiced up hitters whacking 40 and 50 home runs every year, but for Mets fans it is all about pitching. If they do manage to go on some late season surge, it will because Zach Wheeler has finally matured and Jacob deGrom is better than anyone had ever imagined him to be. Jenrry Mejia has settled into the closer role and even has his own post-save celebration.
It’s all part of the confidence and swagger this team is starting to gain and show. The Mets wave towels in unison in the dugout after a big hit and a player runs through them for what is called the carwash after a home run.
Can’t you see the organization giving out towels to all their fans down the road or if the team ever really got back into the race? Imagine the fun.
The bats, at least of late, have come around, but Mets fans know that can change quickly if history is any indication. Curtis Granderson found his stride since moving to the lead-off spot and Lucas Duda makes the Mets look like geniuses for keeping him and trading Ike Davis.
Travis d’Arnaud appears to be turning into the player we hoped for when we traded R.A. Dickey for him. As the lineup has gotten better, David Wright’s numbers have gone up to no surprise.
It makes it the best time for Mets fans to dust off those caps, give the jerseys a good wash and turn your televisions on to the games now that the All-Star festivities have concluded. The team has given its fans reasons to do so and a real glimmer of hope for the first time in years. Things might just get interesting.