(Long Island, N.Y.) When the 2012 Major League Baseball regular season schedule was released, the first series circled on most New York fan’s copies was the annual Interleague affair pitting the cross-town rivals. Albeit if you’re a Yankees or Mets follower, seeing these two teams – and their respective fan bases – go at it is a special weekend, indeed.
But how many of the aforementioned fans gave the Mets any shot to have a nearly identical record (and matching third place standings) with the Yankees by this point in the month of June? Not only have Terry Collins’s wards been hitting the ball well, but they also have two starting pitchers that can garner headlines any time they take the mound.
Of course, Johan Santana (who faces the Yankees Friday night) is the most amazing of the Amazin’s right now by finally getting the team in the no-hit column on the high end. And R.A. Dickey improved his record to 9-1 with a win over the Washington Nationals on Thursday.
Perhaps Santana’s statement to the media after last week’s no-no was a microcosm for the surprising Mets season so far when he said, “This is very, very special and I know it means a lot to New York.”
What’s a half-century when you can enjoy moments like these? The 27,069 in attendance at Citi Field that evening could have cared less how close some of the Mets pitchers have come in the past. It was all about now and being in the moment.
That may be the secret to their success, these underdog Mets. Entering what is obviously a rebuilding year, there were no expectations other than possibly setting up some veterans-for-prospects deal at the trading deadline. But the way things have gone so far, it is not impossible to see the Mets as potential buyers instead of sellers come the end of next month.
Heading into the weekend, their record stood at 32-26 and they trailed the Nationals by a mere one and a half games for the lead in the National League East. (The Atlanta Braves are in second place and one full game out.)
With the Philadelphia Phillies (28-31) experiencing injury problems and currently wallowing in the basement, it isn’t impossible to see someone else hang around and steal the division. With the addition of a second Wild Card playoff team this season, the Mets have even more of a shot to keep this fantasy going into October.
So while there is a long way to go, it would behoove the Mets to take two of three at Yankee Stadium. No, this is not an ‘important’ series as far as standings and head-to-head matchups go, but rather in terms of proving that this isn’t a fluke. The Yankees have run this town since prohibition, regardless of who the National League Gotham tenant was. So why not these Mets to take them down a peg and show the rest of baseball that they are for real?