By Brad Kallet, WFAN.com
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The New York Mets are your 2006 …. er … 2015 National League East champions.
Yeah, read that again. And again. And again.
I can’t believe it actually happened. Can you? I’m the first to admit that, at the beginning of the season, I never dreamed that New York would make the playoffs, let alone win the division. After Sandy Alderson’s trade-deadline domination — which will go down as a turning point in this franchise’s history — I started to believe, but I was far from convinced. Even with this huge lead in September, I felt trepidation. Only David Wright remains from the 2007 club, but the collapse from that season was so scarring that I had to see the magic number hit 0 before my heart rate could finally go down.
It’s borderline unfathomable. It’s so unfathomable, in fact, that I don’t know what to do with myself. On Saturday night when they clinched, I was at a loss. Do I buy a lottery ticket? Do I fly to Vegas? Do I invite 30 of my closest friends to come over and party? Do I drink lots of alcohol and streak?
I didn’t do any of the above, naturally. I was at a bar with some friends, and it was just like any other Saturday night in Manhattan’s East Village.
The only difference was that as I walked the streets, there were swarms of people wearing Mets gear. They were embracing, exchanging high fives and chanting “Lets Go Mets.”
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It was a scene to behold.
But enough about me. There’s less than a week of regular-season baseball on the schedule — six games with the Phillies and Nationals (Who?) — and Mets fans need to take an opportunity to sit back, relax and enjoy what’s happening in front of their very eyes.
It’s not every year that the Mets make the postseason. Hell, it’s hardly every decade. This will only be the eighth time in 53 years of existence that there will be playoff baseball in Flushing.
So for the next few days, let’s not complain and argue in message boards and in comments sections. Let’s not fret about Terry Collins’ bullpen management or playoff rotation. Let’s not obsess over Matt Harvey’s innings limit. Let’s not worry about potential home-field advantage against the Dodgers. Let’s not debate whether or not Sandy Alderson will — or should — re-sign Yoenis Cespedes.
There is a time and a place for all of that, but that time is not now. We’ll get there soon enough. Come October, we’ll be riding and dying with every pitch, in the middle of the most intense and important baseball in nine years.
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We owe it to ourselves to be at peace for once. The madness and excitement of playoff baseball — what we’ve been yearning for — is just around the corner.
Think about what Mets fans have endured since Carlos Beltran took strike three in Game 7 of the 2006 National League Championship Series.
Two consecutive collapses — one of which is in the history books. The only park we’ve ever known — and one most of us grew up in — destroyed and gone forever. The Madoff scandal and its ties to the Wilpons. High-profile acquisitions who were bust after bust after bust. Public relations fiasco after public relations fiasco after public relations fiasco. An unprecedented number of injuries. Three managers. Two general managers. A lack of spending. Billboards. The loss of Jose Reyes. A trade that wasn’t (which, ironically, turned out to be a great thing).
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I’m missing things. A lot of things. Please update the awfully depressing list above in the comments section.
This is a pessimistic, cynical, defeated fan base. And rightly so. We’ve had much more to jeer for than cheer for in our lifetimes. But, if only for the moment, the tide has turned. The Mets are going to the tournament, where anything can happen. It’s unlikely that they’ll win their third World Series in 2015, but they certainly have the talent to make it happen and complete the miracle.
But again, I’m getting ahead of myself. There’s time to worry about the NLDS, the NLCS, the World Series. And then the offseason and the future of this brilliant pitching staff, which we all hope will somehow stay together and be the backbone of a dynasty.
Remember 2006? We were all bummed, but hopeful because it looked like that team — behind Wright and Reyes — would contend for years to come. It never happened. The organization spiraled out of control and it took nine years for things to get back on track.
Well the Mets are back in business, and they certainly have the foundation to be a force for the next decade. But fans of this franchise know firsthand that there are no guarantees. Nothing can be taken for granted.
Appreciate this. Enjoy this. Revel in this. Acknowledge how sweet it is.
Mets fans, who rank among the most loyal and tortured in all of sports, have finally been rewarded.
Brad Kallet is an editor and columnist for CBSNewYork.com. He has written for TENNIS.com, MLB.com and SMASH Magazine, among others. You can follow him on Twitter @brad_kallet.