June 21, 2009.
That was the day. Doesn't seem so long ago. I was sitting in my weekend plan seats, watching the Mets' bullpen implode and force them to lose their fourth straight series.
It was sometime late in that game where I realized the Mets were extremely depleted, and had no realistic shot at the division. By the time Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Carlos Delgado, Oliver Perez, John Maine, J.J. Putz and Billy Wagner (phew) returned, it would be too late. They might make a run, but it would be far too little.
And that day ended with the Mets just two games out of first place, and the NL East leading Phillies losing their sixth straight.
Starting play today, June 26 (funny how quickly views can change in a period of days) they are just a half game out of first place in the NL East. Lots of emotions come into play when seeing the standings today. The first one is joy.
How could this team which has been nothing less but cursed the past couple of years be so close to the pennant which has eluded them the past two seasons? Especially with the troops they are sending out to the field every day.
The second emotion that comes into play is anger. Because if we had those seven key players on our 25-man roster at the moment, we are at least five games ahead—and that's at the very least. And to think that we've been cheated out of a great season where we could rub it in the Phillies face the whole way kind of ticks me off.
The third emotion: hope. Let's be honest, the Phillies have had their share of injuries (Raul Ibanez, Brad Lidge, etc.) but nowhere near what the Mets have had.
The Phillies just do not have the pitching they had a year ago. Their pitching ranks down there with the Nationals (as a matter of fact, the only NL staff ERA worse than Philadelphia's is Washington's).
There's every reason to believe that if the Mets can stay close when getting these big guns back, they'll be fully loaded and take off, leaving the Phillies in the dust and capturing their first NL East crown since 2006.
If the Phillies can't win this with Alex Cora, Nick Evans, and Fernando Martinez as regulars in the Mets lineup, how are they going to win it with Jose Reyes, Carlos Delgado, and Carlos Beltran in the lineup?
Just like the title of my story says: If the Mets are in it now, they'll win it later. And they are most certainly in it now.