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Mets Slide Into First, But Is It Too Soon for Hope?

David Wright

We've always thought this was his best side.Photo: AP

Thanks to a two-run homer by David Wright last night against Cincinnati, the Mets have pulled into first place in the NL East — tied with Philadelphia. Their record at this point in the season is 52-44, with an 18-9 record since new manager Jerry Manuel took over for the ousted Willie Randolph.

Last year at this time, the team was in a much similar place – they had a small lead in the NL East coming out of the All-Star break, and a 52-42 record. They would go on to build on this lead until late September, when they legendarily experienced one of the greatest collapses in late-season baseball history.

Fans have every reason to be psyched — the team is playing steady ball, and Jerry Manuel, for all his verbal hilarity, is a reason for hope. But for Shea regulars, reckless exuberance is something they've learned better than to indulge in. Johan Santana's exciting gamble as a starting pitcher hasn't panned out — and last season's nightmare is weighing heavily on everyone's mind. Now that the team is pulling itself together, there are two choices: Do we get our hopes up? Or do we just steel ourselves for disappointment yet again?

Mets, With Late Push, Pull Even With Phillies [NYT]