Speed made a quick entry into the Mets' world this postseason, and for a change, it was not just a measure of how fast the pitchers' deliveries reached the plate. The Mets used their feet, and their heads, when it came to baserunning, to get rid of the Cubs so swiftly.
Fleetness was not the first thing that came to mind about the Mets, whose 51 stolen bases during the regular season ranked last in the National League. But that was what made it work so well. The Mets were in motion from the get-go against the Cubs and didn't stop until they rushed to the NL pennant with a sweep.
If nothing else, it will give the American League champion Royals something else to worry about in the World Series.
"They have to know now. It's another weapon that we can use," said first-base coach Tom Goodwin, who is in charge of the running game. "Maybe it stops a guy from throwing a ball in the dirt and gives a [batter] a pitch up that he can handle and drive somewhere. It always works for everything, not just the actual base-stealing.
"This is my fourth year here and we've been preaching it from day one. David Wright leads the charge when we do our baserunning drills in spring training, which helps me out a lot. They see him doing it, going at it hard, it just helps everybody to get into it," said Goodwin, who stole 369 bases in his playing career, with four seasons of at least 50 steals.
As a coach, he does not have a team of Tom Goodwins. Terry Collins acknowledged after the workout at Citi Field on Friday, "We're a team that's based on power," but he added: "I salute the job that Tom did. He was the one who came up with all those different scenarios: 'Hey look, we can run in this situation, run in that situation.' . . . We went in there knowing that teams stole bases against the Chicago Cubs. We picked out three or four guys who we think have the ability to steal bases and said, 'So if you get on, you've got a green light.' "
Kelly Johnson said: "It was a big deal . . . Apply some pressure and really force the issue, it's all part of the momentum."
Goodwin noted that Wright got a good jump against Kyle Hendricks in the first inning of Game 3 and scored from first on Yoenis Cespedes' double. It stifled the Cubs' home-field advantage right away.
The Mets, who stole seven bases in the NLCS, weren't even bashful about the risky play of stealing third, which Goodwin says is all about feel and momentum.
"What I do is close my eyes and say, 'Please don't get thrown out,' " he said. Cespedes made it safely to third, putting him in position to score a big run with two outs when Michael Conforto struck out on a pitch that went to the backstop."
Actually, this aggressive approach took root in Game 5 of the NLDS, when Daniel Murphy caught the Dodgers napping and raced from first to third on a walk. "I'm not sure I ever did that one," Goodwin said, "but I tell you, it was something else."
Now it is something else in a pennant-winner's skill set.