By Rich Coutinho
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So many times in the world of sports, we enter seasons with pre-conceived notions based on what the “smart money” says and in a sense we all become sheep–just following the popular viewpoint. The New York Mets have been through so much this season from financial woes to a rash of key injuries to mid-season player trades and through it all, one thing has remained constant. This team refuses to believe their press clippings and plays hard every single night.
After experiencing a day in which they lost two of the top 5 hitters in the league to injuries and suffered a tough one-run loss to the Braves, the Mets have found the strength to go on and in the last 2 nights have staged dramatic come from behind victories. Young players have brought energy to the table and veteran players have performed very well, while at the same time, have encouraged their inexperienced teammates. We all know this team is missing some key components and a playoff berth is highly unlikely but Terry Collins and the Mets have given us all an important life lesson. No matter what the circumstances, pride in what you do should be a given and whether you prevail or fail, has everything to do with your effort. And part of that effort is not worrying about what the world thinks of you.
I said in spring training the Mets were an 85 win team and I still believe that. The ironic thing is I still believe it despite missing key players like K-Rod, Beltran, and Santana. That is because Terry Collins has steered the ship in a positive direction from day one and created a clubhouse that fosters a positive attitude. This is a group that takes pride in what they do every single day, never points fingers at each other, and quite frankly, just loves playing baseball. They lack enough talent to overtake the Braves but refuse to believe that and I am dead serious on that point. “We know it is a longshot”, says David Wright, “but stranger things have happened. And we should know because those strange things happen TO us in 2007 and 2008. The main thing is keep working hard and keep winning because that is all we can control.”
I firmly believe the future is bright for this team as some young players like Lucas Duda, Justin Turner, Dillon Gee, and Ruben Tejada have all made a contributions and in the next year or two, more help is on the way with arms like Zach Wheeker and Matt Harvey on the team’s radar. Signing Jose Reyes will be an off-season priority and as I have said all season, that will happen. But the biggest piece of good news is how the Mets have responded to adversity this year.
Whatever the issue has been, this team seems unfazed by it and more importantly, the struggles have galvanized them. And that my friends is the first step towards becoming a winning organization. In a sense, that spirit is as important as any trade or free agent signing and it has been missing from this organization for quite some time. And that is what makes watching this team battle and fight so great to see.