Anthony Rieber has been at Newsday since Aug. 31, 1998 and in his current position since 2004. Show More
CINCINNATI - The Mets are so close they can taste it.
And it tastes like champagne.
The magic number is one after the Mets' 12-5 win over the Reds and the Nationals' 8-2 loss to the Phillies Friday night. The Mets can clinch their first NL East title and first playoff spot since 2006 with a win or Washington loss Saturday afternoon.
Only nine Mets on our projected 25-man playoff roster have postseason experience. But that doesn't mean the players haven't at some point in their lives enjoyed that indelible moment when a team reaches its goal, whether it's a division crown or something a little smaller.
"I was 10," Travis d'Arnaud said. "Me and my brother were on the same Little League team and we won first place. Huge pizza party."
Even if they weren't that old, winning never gets old. It's why the Mets are looking forward to celebrating once they clinch.
"I try not to think about it," d'Arnaud said, "but after watching the Royals, the Pirates, the Cardinals all clinch, it's giving me the itch."
Michael Cuddyer, who went to the postseason in six different seasons with the Twins, said: "The only thing I hope -- if it were to happen -- I hope it happens after a win. It's so anti-climactic if it happens because the other team loses and you're in the hotel. We had that in 2010. We had a day game and we won. Detroit was playing a night game in Oakland. So it was like 2 o'clock in the morning. We were all at home."
Cuddyer was a rookie the first time his team reached the postseason in 2002.
"For me, I'd never been part of a champagne bath before," Cuddyer said. "I was 23 years old, first year in the big leagues. It was pretty cool. We all ran out [of the dugout]. We probably took it a little too far. Didn't really know what to do or how to celebrate. We definitely took it too far when we won the Division Series against Oakland. People got hands stepped on . . . It was bad."
If d'Arnaud is behind the plate when the Mets clinch, he'll probably end up on the bottom of a very big pile. But he's not worrying about it.
"I've been a part of a few dog-piles in my lifetime," he said. "Emotions are still high and you don't know what's going on. Just kids in grown-men bodies having fun out there."
David Wright, the only Met left from the 2006 team, doesn't remember the division-clincher being that emotional because the team had a sizable lead for most of September.
"It was satisfying," he said. "But we had kind of already set our expectations for higher than winning the division. It was kind of a foregone conclusion that we were going to go to the playoffs."
About his earlier experiences, Wright said: "I would imagine we won something in Little League. I think we got a pizza party win or lose, though."
The other Mets with postseason experience are Yoenis Cespedes, Tyler Clippard, Bartolo Colon, Curtis Granderson, Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe and Eric Young Jr.
Steven Matz, the Long Island lefty who is a candidate to start Game 4 of the NLDS, won titles in the minor leagues in 2013 and 2014. He started both games. The first time, the players were too young for champagne. But not last year with Double-A Binghamton.
"I was able to experience it the past two years in the minor leagues, which was a lot of fun," Matz said. "So I can't imagine the excitement it'll be up here."