David Lennon is an award-winning columnist and author who has been a staff writer at Newsday since 1991.
It's morning again in Flushing. The sun's up at Citi Field.
After all those hollow seasons propped up by pie-in-the-sky promises and distant plans, the Mets are open for business. Taking risks, making trades, adding a few million bucks to the payroll.
Trying to win now. Pushing for the playoffs now.
Not see you next season. Or 2017. Or whenever David Wright's back heals and Zack Wheeler can pitch again.
No more waiting. It's about today. And to that we say, count us among the first to welcome the Mets back to New York.
Friday's call-up of Michael Conforto, from all the way down at Double-A Binghamton, got our attention. The trade for Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson a few hours later made us think that maybe the Mets were serious.
On Monday, when they pulled off the deal for Tyler Clippard, who now becomes a reliable setup man for Jeurys Familia, that took the conversation to another place.
The Mets are checking off boxes, like a shopping list, doing what's necessary to significantly upgrade the 25-man roster with the division-leading Nationals in their sights.
And there's a good chance they aren't finished, either. After the Uribe/Johnson swap, they remained optimistic about pulling off two more deals before Friday's 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline. One turned out to be prying Clippard from the A's. The next should involve more offensive help, likely a run-producing outfielder.
As of Monday night, a source said the Mets had failed to "regain any traction" with the Brewers on Gerardo Parra since a tentative deal fell apart last Thursday -- a domino that led to Conforto's promotion. A source confirmed that the Mets are interested in the Reds' Jay Bruce, but that's going to be far more costly -- in cash and talent -- than the previous two trades.
Bruce, who had 16 homers and an .825 OPS before Monday night's game against the Cardinals, is owed a guaranteed $18 million through next season, with a $13-million team option for 2017.
As for other difference-making bats, it appears the Tigers aren't prepared to go into sell mode yet with Yoenis Cespedes. The Padres' Justin Upton -- who will be at Citi Field Tuesday -- is considered by the Mets to be out of reach.
Last Friday, Sandy Alderson insisted he still was in the market for "big" names, and all of those would qualify.
We're not saying these moves guarantee anything for the Mets. Obviously, they still could finish under .500 and miss the postseason for the ninth straight year.
But that's not the point. Everyone has been subjected to the same tired Flushing re-runs for so long now, it's refreshing to see a dramatic change in the script.
For almost a decade, by mid-July, we already knew how it would end. And it wasn't something we felt like watching until October.
The last time the Mets made what would be considered a deadline deal to bolster their playoff hopes was 2007, when they sent Dustin Martin and Drew Butera to the Twins for Luis Castillo. Hard to believe. But since that Castillo trade, they have operated like the chop shops beyond Citi's rightfield wall. The only headline-maker was shipping Carlos Beltran to the Giants for Wheeler.
Otherwise, it's been a wasteland of empty Julys. Selling Mike Jacobs to the Blue Jays (2010), dumping Francisco Rodriguez on the Brewers ('11), a cash-grab from the Orioles for Omar Quintanilla ('12). You can bet they didn't cut into SNY's regular programming to announce Shaun Marcum's release ('13).
After what has happened during the past few days, however, we're beginning to believe those dark times may indeed be over.
Alderson didn't transform this team into the '86 Mets -- or even the '06 version -- with his recent actions. But he has made good on his pledge to improve them, and with another trade, who knows? For once, in a very long time, anything seems possible.