After all these seasons of torment, of waiting for next year and then waiting some more, the Mets dared to envision something better.
"This,'' David Wright said Thursday, "is what you visualize.''
"This'' is a 6-3 win over the Braves. "This'' is 11 straight victories, the franchise's longest winning streak in 25 years.
"This'' is a team that has shown the brashness to reshape its own reality.
Yes, this is real life.
"Perceptions don't mean much to me. Reality is more important to me,'' said Wright, who has watched most of the revival from the disabled list. "And in reality, I think we've got a pretty good team.''
How good? Injuries have robbed the Mets of Wright, Travis d'Arnaud, Jerry Blevins, Zack Wheeler, Vic Black and Bobby Parnell. A suspension has taken Jenrry Mejia out of commission. But the Mets have responded with a collective shrug. They've made good on all of their bold talk from spring training, exploding out of the starting gate and serving notice that they must be taken seriously.
"It sends a huge message to our fans,'' Terry Collins said. "That what we said, we meant.''
Aesthetically, there was little beauty to be found Thursday. On a cloudy, windy, dreary day, the Mets and Braves played a game rife with goofs, gaffes and an outbreak of brain freeze.
Daniel Murphy committed the gravest offense. After he put the Mets up 3-0 with a bases-loaded double in the first, he helped to squander the lead in the fourth.
With runners at the corners and nobody out, A.J. Pierzynski hit a sharp grounder at Murphy, who passed up an easy double play to make a futile throw to cut down the runner at the plate. But Nick Markakis stopped in his tracks and retreated.
Suddenly, it was bases loaded with nobody out. The Braves scratched out two runs, a setback that might have snowballed a year ago. Not anymore.
"In each ballgame, no matter what happens, I feel like somebody is going to come through,'' Murphy said. "It's a really cool feeling to have.''
Eric Campbell worked a bases-loaded walk in the fifth to put the Mets ahead for good. They tacked on two in the seventh, with Murphy getting his fourth RBI.
The streak lived when it could have died. History will forget those details, of course. What it will remember is something much greater. At 13-3, the Mets maintained their hold on baseball's best record and tied the 1986 championship team for the fastest start in franchise history.
They won 10 games in a single homestand, a remarkable feat that had not been accomplished at the Polo Grounds, Shea Stadium or Citi Field. During that stretch, the Mets outscored opponents 53-28, batted .272 with seven homers and pitched to a 2.70 ERA.
On Friday night, they will send Jacob deGrom to the mound in the Subway Series opener with a chance to enter uncharted territory. No Mets team has ever won 12 in a row. No Mets team has ever started the season 14-3.
It's early. Only fate will determine what becomes of these Mets. But in the first steps of a marathon, they have retraced the path of champions. They have done so exactly as envisioned long ago. For the Mets, this is the new reality.
Said deGrom: "People are starting to notice that.''