Here the Mets are — despite being tied for the second-best record in the National League and the third-best record in all of Major League Baseball with 101 wins — preparing for the high-stakes, best-of-three NL Wild Card Series against the San Diego Padres just to get to the same place the NL East champion, 101-win Atlanta Braves, who are waiting in the NLDS for the winner of the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals Wild Card matchup.
That certainly could be cause for sour grapes. Instead, slugger Pete Alonso pointed to the need for extra playoff games on a team that couldn’t quite take care of business down the stretch.
Despite having the easiest remaining schedule in baseball, the Mets went 13-12 from Sept. 3-Oct. 2, headlined by a sweep on the penultimate series of the season down in Atlanta against the Braves that ultimately saw the Mets sink into second place after leading the NL East for 175 days. But that stretch also included swoons against second-division squads like the Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals, and Miami Marlins.
“People look at the Atlanta series and they think that was the determining factor. We got swept by the Cubs three weeks prior,” Alonso said. “If we didn’t get swept, if we had one more game, or if you look at the 60-some-other games wheere it was close, tough-fought games where we didn’t come through — there were other opportunities throughout the year to win the division even though people look at the Atlanta series as that one final thing.
“As much as coulda, woulda, shoulda, we won 101 games. That’s the second-best record in New York Mets regular season history.”
It certainly appears to be a new era in Queens. Not only was this a historic season in terms of win total, but this is just the 10th time in 60 years that the Mets are in the playoffs with a team built to rapidly add to that amount in the very near future. Regardless, it’s hard to overlook that New York’s road to the National League pennant has certainly been made more difficult.
Not only do the Mets have to win a best-of-three series, but the 111-win and MLB-best Los Angeles Dodgers loom in the NLDS should they advance.
“Regardless of where we’re at in the playoffs, to get where we want to be, we have to beat everybody anyways,” Alonso said. “To be a world champion, you have to beat everybody. It doesn’t matter where, it doesn’t matter when, you just have to do it.”
Consider the page flipped.
“Disappointment is not in my mind, it’s not in my mouth. That was yesterday’s news. It’s in the past,” star shortstop Francisco Lindor said. “Everyone starts 0-0. It’s a new time of the year. We have to focus on what’s in front of our feet. It’s a blessing to be int he playoffs. To be in the playoffs, at the end of the day, I don’t care if it’s a Wild Card or a World Series, it’s an honor, it’s a privilege to be here.”
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