It just didn't matter.
If we had found a way to lose to the Braves on Sunday, the ay-Met corner would have been terribly upset, but the Mets themselves would've been…what? Only 13 games in front of them? Only 12-1/2 in front of somebody else?
The beauty part of the sweep was, except for clearing aside the lingering relevance of some ugly history, we didn't need to beat the Braves. We've so overwhelmed them and everybody else in our way that one game in late July was one game in late July.
But they, the Braves, needed it. They needed a lot more, but if they got this one, they could have continued merrily along their self-delusional path to oblivion. They just would have gotten there a day later, but who here didn't want to knock them into the side of the road at the first possible turn?
We, the fans, needed it. No further elaboration is required. Those of us who poured out of subways fumbling for a radio when Sunday's game began and tumbled off of couches in something suspiciously like tears when it ended understood the significance of this sweep. It didn't have to conclude with the newest Brave gnat getting thrown out stealing with two out, down by four in the ninth, but that it did was an exclamation point made of delicious chocolate puddin'. It signaled that not only are we way better than them but that they, at long last, are way worse than us.
Our guys? They only needed it as far as they demanded it. When the Braves were mouthing that silliness about the Mets looking over their shoulders at them (as Harold Stassen, no doubt, assessed many a presidential front-runner's preoccupation with him post-1948), I believe it insulted the Mets. You really think Lo Duca or Beltran or Delgado was at all impressed on Friday that Atlanta was still mathematically alive? Despite having lived through the last several chapters of Brave abuse, can you imagine Wright or Reyes or Pedro giving a good goddamn? Pedro intimidated by Atlanta's previous successes? Oh, that's funny.
But talk about your classic bulletin board material. P-Lo's very definitive statement about putting it to them and concluding the competitive portion of their season, you'll notice, didn't come until the final game was the next game. This is a real take 'em one at a time outfit we've got. They didn't speak until the time was right. And afterwards? Serious as a summons, Beltran spoke of going to Miami and continuing to play well. I imagine the Marlins aren't saying stupid things and that the Phillies (so delighted to have pawned Abreu and Lidle off on some deep-pocketed sucker that they swept two Sunday) will keep their lips zipped this week. Technically they are our competitors. But really, as co-tenants of a division that was so soul-crushingly boring for so long, shouldn't they greet us as liberators?
Quick aside on Beltran: Remember the winter Tuesday when he was officially welcomed as a Met? He had the morning press conference and then everybody packed up and took off over the Triborough for the afternoon freak show where Randy Johnson was let out of his cage. Johnson grabbed the back page (following the front page he earned for assaulting a cameraman), but who do you think announced the smarter deal that January 11, 2005?
Ancient stuff, I know, just like the House of Horrors hype in Atlanta. Horrors, schmorrors; Turner Field is the House of Happy from now on — as in don't worry, be massively elated (it was kind of our slogan back in '88, the last time we knew how to run the East). Yeah, Glavine's a bit of a mess, but some pitcher always is and somebody always picks up the slack. Another arm? A lefty bat? If you can do it, Omar, go ahead — just don't do anything rash. Not that I doubt you.
Not that I doubt any of you. I'd ride each and every one of you to October without hesitation. You're the 2006 Mets. You don't play other teams. Other teams play you. We've been waiting 18, maybe 20 years for a setup like this and now we've got it. You're the guys who got us here. I am confident you can take us anywhere we want to go.
Me, I'm gonna go do me some advance scouting for a couple of days. I'll catch up with the tour real soon.