Mets fans have something to cheer
Web linksNewsday's Baseball 2011 preview
Hip-hop music blared, smiles flashed and the Mets attacked their postgame meal with vigor.
These were the sights and sounds of a winning clubhouse. You could excuse the Mets for taking extra pleasure in it all.
Technically, the Mets endured only a two-game losing streak; they lost the final game of 2010 and the 2011 opener. But the organization endured so much pain in that time span -- and that's even counting the hiring of general manager Sandy Alderson on the positive side of the ledger -- that it might as well have been a 200-game slide.
There's a reason why Terry Collins, before picking up his first victory as Mets skipper, said the following:
"I think it's important, I really do, to lift the confidence of the players so that they believe that they're good enough to compete. And also, certainly, we want to make sure our fans get back on board and realize that when they come to see us play in New York that they're going to see a good team on the field, which they are going to see."
For one night, Mets fans saw that sort of club. A resilient, determined and, yes, talented club.
To add long-term good news to the short-term kick, Francisco Rodriguez -- by blowing a save opportunity in the ninth inning -- drew no closer to the 55 games finished he needs to vest a $17.5- million option for 2012.
K-Rod came in to close out a 3-2 lead after the Mets came back from a 2-0 deficit and went ahead in the top of the ninth on Josh Thole's two-out RBI single. When Rodriguez gave back that lead, Mets fans had every reason to believe their club would lose again.
But Reyes said the team returned to the dugout undeterred. "Just go back to work," he said. "Try to score some more runs there. We did it."
Reyes started the winning rally with his first hit of the season, a single to right, and Angel Pagan followed with a bunt single. Franchise player David Wright, who has appeared so beaten down by the events of the past few years, singled up the middle to drive in Reyes, and the Mets wound up with three runs in the inning and a 6-3 lead.
After Blaine Boyer recorded a shaky save in the bottom of the 10th, the Mets could celebrate.
"The way that we won, I think, is important," Wright said. "To lose the lead and get the momentum right back is impressive. From what I've seen in the league, that's what winning teams do."
"It's a huge win for us," Collins said, and huge questions remain about this team. About its health, its starting rotation, its manager and, biggest of all, the financial viability of its ownership.
All of those issues will sort themselves out through the run of the season. On this night, the players could congratulate Collins for his first big-league victory since Aug. 23, 1999. They could salute Carlos Beltran for his effective (if not pretty) sixth-inning run from first base to home while scoring the tying run.
They could thank Jon Niese, who rebounded from a two-run first inning to wind up with a very effective seven-inning performance.
They could take a few moments to bask in the happiness, for they -- and everyone in and around the Mets -- had endured so much to get back to the win column.