162 Behind Them

The Mets won their 97th game of the season last night in Frank Robinson's career finale and have finally learned the identity of their next opponent.

In some ways it was all incredibly anticlimactic following the incremental disasters of Pedro, the early clinching of the NL East and a brief tailspin that saw a pair of humiliating losses at Turner and Hooch Field.

But they've made it. Last night's season finale, a victory over the hapless Nats of Washington had no impact whatsoever on their postseason other than the outfield collision avoided between Carlos Beltran and Cliff Floyd meant there were no more disasters awaiting the Mets before the postseason begins.

Some of the swagger and strut is missing. Perhaps ironically, the Mets' four game winning streak to close out the season left them tied with the hated Yankees for the best record in baseball. Ironic because like the Mets, the Yankees may be facing the postseason sans the pitching star who was supposed to lead them to the World Championship.

But it's all bittersweet by now, isn't it?

Beginning on Wednesday the Mets will face the LA Dodgers in the NLDS and they can finally say goodbye to a rough September that saw them clinch, lose Pedro and fight back demons as they prepared for their October.

No coming out party, no presumption of progression to the NLCS.

Just the facts: the Mets will face the Dodgers, El Duque will start Game One and Glavine will face his auld championship teammate in Greg Maddux in Game Two.

Beyond that, the Mets don't know who will start Game Three or Four.


Jose Reyes finished with a .300 average by sitting out the season finale; 30 doubles, 17 triples, 19 homers, 64 stolen bases and more interestingly, 53 walks. Remember last season when he had only 27 walks in 161 games?

Carlos Beltran, who will probably receive most consideration as NL MVP on the Mets even though the award is likely Ryan Howard's, finsihed with 41 homers 116 RBIs and a .388 OBP thanks to his 95 walks (10th in the NL), the most by far, of his career. The .275 batting average obscures some of the numbers considering his slot in the lineup but the season was solid offensively, defensively and most importantly, for gaining credibility in New York. Remember early this season with expectation so high and disappointment in his inaugural season as a Met saw the boo birds out early for Beltran?

David Wright, sharing space as the Mets' poster boy with Jose Reyes, hit 26 homers, knocked in 116 runs and hit .311 with a .381 OBP, just a shade below Beltran.

Carlos Delgado, resting his aching bones in preparation of the playoffs managed 38 homers and 113 RBIs despite a .265 batting average, his lowest since he hit .262 in 1997.

And the string of unsung heroes and replacements, the Paul LoDuca's, Endy Chavez's and Jose Valentin's to name a few, filling in the gaps and pushing the wave forward.

As for the pitching, well look no further than the solid effort of Billy Wagner all season; 40 saves in 45 chances, a remarkable improvement from Mr Looper of a year ago. Without Wagner the Mets might still be here given the margin they won the NL East by but without him they would not have a prayer in the playoffs.

The bullpen itself has probably been the underrated hero of the team's success, ranked second in the National League behind the San Diego Padres in late innings ERA at 2.51. Other than the Padres NO TEAM in the National League had a late inning ERA lower than 3.00. Overall, the bullpen finished with a 3.28 ERA behind only the Twins in the Major Leagues.

And lest we forget, alot of that was AFTER the Mets lost their set-up man to mid-season taxi crash.


So before we begin the postseason clashes, let's take a day or two to remember just what an amazing success the regular season was.

And for a quick peak in the way back machine, the Army, like several colleagues not only had the Mets winning the East but making it to the World Series against the Yankees.

It's still possible.

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