This happens, right? Against all playoff probability odds, let alone preseason projections, some team finds the field and proves itself better than imagined, better than its competition, better than its most fervent and loyal supporters dared to dream.
This is happening…right?
Brothers and sisters, rub your eyes, pinch your extremities, do a double-, triple- and quadruple-take. Those are indeed our New York Mets sitting atop the National League East with nothing directly beneath them except five-and-a-half games’ worth of stratosphere and four teams incapable of dislodging them in the very short term. Three of those teams are spiritually if not mathematically eliminated, while a lone, legitimate competitor lurks on the decreasingly elastic edges of possibility’s realm. The Nats remain within spitting distance of the Mets, but mostly they keep slipping on their own saliva.
Honestly, though, it’s beginning to not matter what the Washington Nationals do. It’s the Mets who are doing what needs to be done, the Mets who are, night by night, doing what no Mets before them have ever done.
If you’ve treated yourself to a viewing of That Thing You Do! every blessed time it comes on the air, then you know The Wonders (originally The Oneders; eventually revealed as classic one-hit wonders) had themselves a song called “Dance With Me Tonight,” which included a timelessly relevant lyric, whether you are listening in Erie, Pa., in 1964, or anywhere across Metsopotamia in 2015.
Tell everyone in Philadelph’ya
There’s a party goin’ on.
Is there ever. It’s thrilling. It’s bracing. It’s ecstasy over SNY and WOR. And boy oh boy, is it powerful.
• The Mets hit eight home runs Monday night at Citizens Bank Park. That’s a franchise record, breaking the old mark that was established in the very same setting on another night the Phillies didn’t have a prayer.
• The Mets added seven doubles to register fifteen extra-base hits in toto. That’s another franchise record, surpassing the thirteen collected exactly ten years earlier in Arizona — and completely outdoing that thing their predecessors didn’t do exactly forty years earlier in San Francisco, which was the day the 1975 Mets were no-hit by Ed Halicki, who, if he’s so tough, why doesn’t he come out of retirement at age 64 and face this powerhouse of a batting order?
• The Mets won by a Namathesque final of 16-7. You who are now trained to keep your eyes peeled for the rare and elusive Unicorn Score can mark down yet another one. It was the first 16-7 win in franchise history. Maybe it will be cloned. Maybe it will be dwarfed.
They are farther above .500 than at any time since 2008. They lead the pack by more lengths than at any time since 2007. They look and feel, by every measure, more like a playoff team than at any time since 2006. Those years ended in various shades of pain and horror. This year is coming in on an altogether cheerier frequency. Try to tune in fear and all you get is static.
Who knows anymore what this team can do? Who knows what they will do? It’s folly to pretend to know. Throw out your formulas and resist the pull of magic numbers. Here’s all you need to lean into: If the Mets play 1.000 ball in their next game, everything will be one game closer to taking care of itself quite nicely.
When this particular Unicorn Score has gathered dust, it will likely be inferred to have been the result of something resembling a hard-fought sluggers’ duel. To a certain extent, that will be a reasonable inference, for the Mets actually trailed in this game. They trailed by a lot. They trailed by the kind of margin teams like the 2015 Mets of the part of 2015 that isn’t this one don’t usually come back from. What’s more, they were trailing on the tattered tresses of Jacob deGrom, whose ERA is normally as short as his locks are luxuriously long.
DeGrom, however, didn’t have whatever it is deGrom usually has: command, feel, touch…you name it, it wasn’t at his fingertips. When you can’t rely on your best pitcher, who can you depend upon?
How about everybody else, starting with your Captain, whose presence has just turned on the Fasten Seat Belt sign?
The Mets’ starting lineup encompassed in its cleanup slot the player who’s been in more Met starting lineups than any Met ever. On the kind of night when copious amounts of “more” and “ever” were bound to dot descriptions of what the hell (or heaven) just happened in Philadelphia, it was, too, the kind of night that called for the return of David Wright from spinal stenosis purgatory. The Mets had been doing dreadfully without him for the longest time. Then they were doing phenomenally without him for the latest time. Now that they are phenomenal and he has returned, could there be any doubt the two of them together would be explosive?
Doubt all you want. Your lack of faith will be blasted over any of several Citizens Bank Park walls.
David launched a long home run in his first at-bat. How long? Long enough to cover the distance between his uneasy removal from the game of April 14 to his welcome insertion into the game of August 24. His homer put the Mets on the board and pointed them in the…this is no night to resist the obvious…Wright direction.
Don’t waste another minute
Step into the light
This one was for David, whose team it was when nobody else wanted it. And this one was for David’s devotees, all those Ghost Wright-ers in the Stands who bought their No. 5 jerseys sometime after July 21, 2004, and continued to wear them through his and the Mets’ ascent in 2005 and 2006 and their trauma-fraught decline thereafter. Even when he appeared in no Met lineup as April became May became “maybe Tejada can play third,” you couldn’t miss his presence on the backs in your midst.
There were 33s. There were 48s. There were very lately 34s and 52s and 30s. There were still faded 57s and 45s and 15s and 7s left over from the last batch of good times. But the 5s kept coming throughout 2015, even during the titular bearer’s extended absence.
It turns out the one 5 that counts most of all is still around, still swinging, still connecting and, at last, winning.
David isn’t doing it alone. There is no stenosis in that Met lineup, just miles and miles of spine.
• At 3-0 Phillies, Wright homered to make it 3-1 Phillies.
• At 4-1 Phillies, Lagares homered to make it 4-2 Phillies.
• At 7-2 Phillies, Flores homered to make it 7-4 Phillies.
• At 7-4 Phillies, d’Arnaud homered to make it 7-5 Phillies.
• At 7-5 Phillies, Flores homered (again) to make it 8-7 Mets.
• At 8-7 Mets, Cuddyer homered to make it 9-7 Mets.
• At 9-7 Mets, Murphy homered to make it 11-7 Mets.
• At 11-7 Mets, d’Arnaud doubled (piker) to make it 13-7 Mets.
• At 13-7 Mets, Lagares singled (how precious!) to make it 14-7 Mets.
• At 14-7 Mets, Cespedes homered to break the round-tripper record, deliver a bouncing baby Unicorn and make it 16-7 Mets.
Talk about your extra-base hit wonders.
Sean Gilmartin didn’t homer, but he did single and hold the Phillies scoreless during that blink of a transition period between it being a ballgame and a runaway American dream. The whole thing’s rather surreal (W)right now, except when you scour the standings and see for yourself that there’s nothing quite like these New York Mets. I could throw historical comparisons at you — and you can throw them at me — but as we speak and as we soar, these things these Mets do appear to be without precedent.
We join our history, already in progress.