By Rich Coutinho
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Over the course of a long baseball season, there will be ups and downs, injuries curtailing winning streaks. But all successful teams have one constant: leadership.
Chemistry in the clubhouse.
It can extend winning streaks and snap losing streaks. The Mets have great chemistry, and that’s been been of the biggest reasons New York sits in second place in the competitive NL East.
They came into the season with all the experts saying they had too many holes, not enough depth and inferior starting pitching. The fans, for the most part, bought that snow job hook, line and sinker. That’s all they heard from the media. But make no mistake about it — the Mets are serious playoff contenders 50 games into the season.
Thats right — I used the “P” word.
You want leadership? There are no better in this sport than Johan Santana and David Wright, who lead the “right way.” They don’t do it for the world to see by throwing over a table or scolding a teammate. They do it by example. The younger players see Wright and Santana are the first to arrive, embrace their responsibility to the media, and compete.
Terry Collins deserves a bunch of credit for motivating these players, and so does his coaching staff. Consider the job Tim Teufel has done with Daniel Murphy at second base. Murphy will never be confused with Bill Mazeroski around the bag, but he has been serviceable due in large part to the amount of work he and Teufel put in during the offseason. And that has kept his potent bat in the lineup.
The numbers don’t lie. The Mets are 16-10 at Citi Field and 12-12 on the road, the formula for a winning season. They’re also 15-8 against the National League East, which is why they are only one and half games from the top spot in the division. What they lack in talent they make up for in resiliency, and that speaks to team chemistry. I have never been around a team that pulls for each other like this team — even when one player is in competition with another for playing time.
Many hurdles await this team, especially in the next few weeks. But to a man, these guys think they will win every night. They respect every team but do not fear them. They spend countless hours studying film on their opponents and could care less what the experts think. This is a special team and my sense is Mets fans are starting to believe that they might be in for a fun summer.
If the first 50 games are any indication, it might be a season to remember.
Will the Mets keep it up? Be heard in the comments below!