Since their 3-1 start to the season, the Mets have scraped the .500 mark twice: on May 20 at Yankee Stadium, and then last night (6/15) in soggy Atlanta. That’s a couple of pretty fair ballclubs, isn’t it? It’s not like they bulldozed the Mudville Nine to get there: they did it at two of their personal chambers of horrors. It’s been a truly fun ride, but it’s nowhere near the end of the line.
Unless you’re of the true Wilponian mind – be just good enough to lure fans through the doors and just bad enough to not win anything or have to pay anybody — deadly dead-even is nothing to write home about. Yes, it’s a nice first step and as the late Tug McGraw told us about September 1973 in his contemporaneous autobiography Screwball, “We had to get to .500 before we could even think of taking the division.”
And for any “old” New Breeders reading this, it was a pipe dream for those Polo Gounds/World’s-Fair-Shea-Stadium teams, of course.
.500 is a start. It’s not the signal for us fans in 2011 to go patting ourselves on the back for sticking with this team. It is June 16 and by the time September rolls around, this stretch could be dust. The thing to do to avoid that possibility is to listen to Terry Collins, in his post-game quotes: “We’re here,” Collins stated after the game. “It’s been a long road and a long, uphill battle. I’m so proud of the way the guys hung in there. Now we’ve got to move forward. We’ve got to keep moving.” Or go back to June 2, 1969 and ask Tom Seaver what he thought about the Mets reaching the .500 so “late” in the season, without a single drop of champagne to be seen in the New York clubhouse: “There are only two places in the league – first place and no place.”
The Mets right now find themselves within shouting distance of the NL Wild Card, 3.5 games back. That’s closer than they were when they jettisoned Scott Kazmir in 2004, so it isn’t exactly misbegotten or as far-fetched as it was back then. In fact, word has recently come down that Kazmir is again available. Would it be a sweet twist of irony to bring him “home” and pitch the Mets into the playoffs?
We can at least dream. 34-34 makes it plausible. It’ll take a bit more than that for it to actually happen.