David Lennon is an award-winning columnist and author who has been a staff writer at Newsday since 1991.
LOS ANGELES - "Two more times! Two more times! Two more times!"
A Game 5 for the ages, an instant classic, was only a few minutes old, and the Mets, soaked in champagne from head to toe, weren't satisfied.
Dancing in a circle, spraying everyone within range, they already were looking beyond their epic NLDS-clinching 3-2 win over the Dodgers Thursday night.See alsoBoxscore: Mets vs. Dodgers NLDS Game 5
Our heads were still spinning in disbelief, trying to digest how Daniel Murphy supplied nearly all of the offense and the Mets, carried heroically by an unyielding Jacob deGrom, rode Noah Syndergaard for an inning before saddling Jeurys Familia with two. All in front of 54,602 screaming, white towel-spinning fans at Chavez Ravine.
"Nothing sexy about it," said David Wright, gasping for breath between the bubbly rivers flowing from his cap. "We grind it out. It just seems like every day somebody steps up, a new guy, to get that big hit or make that big pitch. Today was no different. Every day is somebody new, and that's what makes this team dangerous."
Take your pick. Was it Murphy making himself invisible on the basepaths, swiping third from the clueless Dodgers before scoring the tying run on Travis d'Arnaud's sacrifice fly? How about Syndergaard, who warmed up four times until Terry Collins finally went to him for a dominant seventh inning? Familia is hardly a new guy, but he had a new role in Game 6, getting a six-out save to send the Mets on to the NLCS against the Cubs.
That last part we weren't on board with, not after watching Syndergaard blow away the Dodgers, throwing 100 mph and then whiffing Justin Turner with a nasty 81-mph hook to end the seventh. Why not stick with him?
But Collins said they had put together a plan and weren't going to switch on the fly. "We thought it out, and we had to roll the dice tonight," he said about the two innings for Familia. "Or you second-guess yourself for the rest of your life. If they beat Familia, then you tip your hat."
The cap, however, stayed on his head, which was drenched. But once he snuck away to the kitchen for something to wipe his eyes, Sandy Alderson made the mistake of walking through the clubhouse door, and his players pounced on him like sharks on a bleeding tuna.
Alderson could barely be seen through the spray, and the GM, always a paragon of composure, jumped up and down, yelling, like a frat pledge. Only when the hosing had abated some did he step back out, looking for shelter -- and smiling the entire time.
Like many New Yorkers who were glued to the TV, Alderson spent the game pacing as he watched. This NLCS trip is a half-decade in the making, but it took more than just assembling bodies to get here. This group is greater than the sum of its parts, and that's what Alderson saw on the field in Game 5.
"I just think the way the team was so resilient," he said. "It was true in this series, it was true in this game. It was unbelievable."
Alderson came up to Familia after the game and told him he is a "monster." He also showered Collins with praise, crediting him for helping deGrom get through six innings and knowing when to go to Syndergaard. Collins, 66, has only a team option to manage the Mets in 2016, but it's now safe to assume he will be in Flushing for as long as he wants.
"I think that Terry did a masterful job," Alderson said. "We've got great leadership. I think it's the combination of leadership on the staff, leadership in the clubhouse and a bunch of guys that really enjoy playing."
For the Mets to win this game despite such a wobbly start from deGrom was amazing. Collins thought he'd have to pull him after two or three innings. He was only a hit away from done. Over and over. Until he wasn't.
Which is the same for these Mets. Always coming back, always pushing. For 162 games, for 27 outs. And now they're in the NLCS for the first time since 2006.
With no intention of stopping there.