Skip to main content
Original Issue

Believe It, Or Not

The good news: Your team got off to a searing start that featured an 11-game winning streak. But that team is the Mets, and your baked-in fear of impending doom is hard to shake. The numbers say these Mets are for real. But there's still much for two long-suffering fans to discuss

SUNDAY, APRIL 26: Mets (then 14--4) at Yankees (10--8)

JACK DICKEY: I say this with all due respect, but is there any fan base less prepared to have the best record in baseball than the Mets'? I think we needed a season of not-quite-there-yet progress before we became the 2001 Mariners.

SAM PAGE: In Biblical terms the Mets' fans have wandered out of 40 years in the desert and into a Ben and Jerry's. Are there really no holes?

DICKEY: Maybe the infield defense could use an upgrade (he says, as another ground ball trickles through, and the Yankees go up 4--2).

PAGE: How refreshing is it that every single Mets pitcher throws strikes, even if they get hit, like Jon Niese tonight.

DICKEY: The staff's aversion to walks so far is one of the many pleasant things about this team. Let's list some others. My two favorite things on the 2015 Mets are Bartolo Colon's resurgence and Alex Torres's concussion-proof cap, which is so flattened, it looks like Benny Agbayani sat on it.

PAGE: Colon's resurgence is made only sweeter by the reports from early spring training that his fastball was hitting something like 78 on the gun. He's like that uncle who claims he just needs an hour warmup to get his stuff back, but unlike that uncle, he's not lying.

DICKEY: And I really have no idea how this happened, but the Mets have lineup depth. Curtis Granderson, Lucas Duda, Michael Cuddyer, Daniel Murphy, David Wright when he gets back.... Last year Bobby Abreu hit cleanup for five straight games. Duda really developed into a player, huh?

PAGE: With Duda's success can we now put all the armchair psychology about "the pressure of New York" to rest? I'm not sure there's a single player who seems less comfortable as a star athlete.

DICKEY: When his success goes to his head, he'll buy a Subaru.

PAGE: He'll get the heated seats and then feel guilty about it for months, creating the worst slump of his professional career. Here's something else I like about the Mets: All the best players were acquired by Omar Minaya, so I can root for the team while still rooting against the ownership, since at least some of the success is in spite of its efforts.

DICKEY: Full disclosure: You and I may be Omar Minaya's biggest fans not named Scott Boras. But even the most skeptical fan would have to give him some credit for this roster.

PAGE: I should clarify before the angry letters start rolling in that I like Sandy Alderson as a GM. But much like Alex Rodriguez's winning MVP, a mostly Minaya-drafted Mets team clinching the pennant would cause some heads to explode.

DICKEY: Alderson has done an O.K. job. But there is a subset of the fan base that seems to value a top 100 prospect as an equivalent to, like, five wins in the credit department.

PAGE: It is nice, though, for the Mets' players to be no-names in the minors and stars in the majors (e.g., Jacob deGrom, Duda), as opposed to the other way around (Mike Pelfrey, Fernando Martinez).

DICKEY: I'll have you know that Lastings Milledge is now one of the Yakult Swallows' franchise cornerstones.

Have you seen as many recent instances as I have of the "surging Mets aim to retake New York from the Yankees" story line? I think it's worth noting that no one in New York has given half a damn about the Yankees since Hideki Matsui won them that World Series. As far as I can tell, since the Giants won the Super Bowl, the most beloved nonhockey entity in New York sports is Mike Francesa. And while maybe I'm projecting, Matt Harvey seems genuinely adored by all New Yorkers.

PAGE: Yankees fans love Harvey because they live under the delusion that since he grew up a Yanks fan, he can't wait to sign with them. Which, I'll be honest, I only mock out of profound insecurity.

DICKEY: We shouldn't be too cocky, given that we're probably going to lose this game.

PAGE: Do you feel any more confident about the Mets' comeback chances here, now that they're apparently good?

DICKEY: I don't feel good about their comeback chances, but that's only because they had to come back to earth at some point. But they're gonna sniff 90 wins, especially if Washington continues to trip over itself. Everyone (SI included) picked the Nats to romp this year, but they're already seven games behind the Mets. According to Stats LLC in The Wall Street Journal, over the last 15 seasons 49 teams have been seven or more games out of first after 19 games—only one, the 2000 Giants, came back to win their division.

PAGE: The Mets' last two serious brushes with success [in 2007 and '08] had them in the playoffs up until the final game of the season. I think this year they'll be there after 162.

DICKEY: I'm not sure I see them doing the wire-to-wire thing, because of concerns about age and durability at one end of the roster and inexperience at the other. It feels uneasy, being earnestly optimistic about the Mets. It's like taking a joyride that's pleasant until you realize the brake pedal doesn't work.

PAGE: Bryce Harper will be struggling to get his 20th homer in September (as usual) while the Mets are chilling the champagne. Or the Mets will lose 20 in a row. One or the other. A Mets start this dramatic can't just signify an enjoyable wild-card season. It's a sign of something amazing or horrible to come.

The Yankees win 6--4.


Previous Mets seasons with 11-game winning streaks


Championships won in those four seasons (1969, '86)


Other teams since 2000 with 11-game winning streaks


Number of those teams who made the postseason


Photograph by TIM CLAYTON For Sports Illustrated

LEADER OF THE PACK Matt Harvey is 4--0 with 31 strikeouts and three walks, but the Mets are getting help from less expected sources too.