David Lennon is an award-winning columnist and author who has been a staff writer at Newsday since 1991.
When it was over, after the Mets had upped their once-in-a-generation winning streak to 11 games with Thursday's 6-3 victory over the Braves, the clubhouse doors swung open.
And the sound inside was silence.
No music at all. No mix tape blaring. Nothing.
Just the subdued noise of bags being packed. For the next business trip.
The Mets have the best record in baseball at 13-3, a start so ridiculous that they suddenly have a 4 1/2-game lead in the National League East -- on April 23. It was one long party at Citi Field during the 10-0 homestand, where the Mets frustrated their foes so thoroughly that two teams held closed-door meetings to assess the damage during their Flushing stay.
Reason to celebrate, no? Maybe a few postgame jams, a "Who Let the Dogs Out?" or "L.A. Woman" for old times' sake? Nope.
That's one of the astonishing things about these Mets. For a youngish team that should be learning how to act as if they've been here before, they already do. These Mets behave as if they've been doing this for years.
And now, after 11 straight wins, comes the hard part. Making history is going to feel easy compared to what the Mets have waiting for them in the Bronx this weekend. The big stage. The magnifying glass. Having to prove to everyone, all over again, that this winning is indeed real.
Now they face a revived Yankees team that is brushing off the dirt from the early grave many of us stuck them in. If the Mets want to own this town, this weekend is time for the first down payment. While many of these players still are too fresh to fully understand the magnitude of what lies ahead at Yankee Stadium, a handful realize they're going up a weight class for 72 hours.
"No doubt," said manager Terry Collins, now in his fifth season of the crosstown battle. "This is a different level. This is special for us, too. Our young guys are in for something they have never experienced before.
"But that can't change the way they go about things. They can't change the way they're playing the game right now. They've still got to do the little things to win and we've still got to pitch. We like what we're doing."
How could they not? The Mets outscored their opponents 53-28 during this homestand and pitched to a 2.70 ERA overall. On the rare occasion when they did trail, they shrugged off deficits for five comeback wins. They found a closer in Jeurys Familia, who is 8-for-8 in save chances. They absorbed the losses of David Wright, Travis d'Arnaud, Jerry Blevins -- and didn't blink.
This team has shown a useful knack for shaking adversity along with the benefits of collective short-term memory. This group of Mets seems to enjoy each of these wins about as much as a fistful of French fries. Tastes great, but always hungry for more. Pass the ketchup. They just want to keep eating. And they'll take some off your plate, too.
"It's pretty cool," Michael Cuddyer said of the streak, "but at the same time, we can't get caught up in that right now. I think we're a good team, plain and simple."
Cuddyer, a 15-year veteran, was brought on board to help his buddy Wright stabilize a talented but unproven club. Maybe this Mets crew just needed a few nudges in the right direction to build some momentum.
Of course the Yankees would be next up to try to squash it. In their own backyard.
The Mets can't tell you this weekend in the Bronx is a huge deal because they need to believe it's only a tiny fraction of a 162-game season. But we can. And it is.
Because for everything the Mets have accomplished to this point -- both real and imagined -- a few bad losses to the Yankees would put a sizable blemish on this current stretch of perfection.
From what we've seen, however, the Mets appear as ready for this test as they can be. Minus some familiar faces, but with a newfound confidence that is very much intact. "You don't come to the ballpark hoping to win," Wright said. "The mentality is we expect to win."
In other words, business as usual for these Mets. Only now it's in the Bronx.