In next week's issue of this magazine — it's not online yet; get a subscription, people, these things don't grow on trees (Editor's note: They, in fact, do.) — we wrote about how truly special of a year this could turn out to be for the Mets. We get the sense that Mets fans, understandably, are hesitant to truly start believing that this team is a real contender, considering all the abuse this franchise has put them through over the last few years. But if you can take a step back from your hurt, really embrace this team, and consider the possibilities ... there could be something truly special happening in this, the anniversary season. Last night is the sort of night we're talking about. Last night made you feel like there's magic in Queens this year.
The Mets pulled off a wild, thrilling walkoff 6–5 win over the Phillies last night, winning a three-game series and sending the crowd home giddy and vibrating. The Mets trailed 5–4 heading into the ninth — it would have been 6–4 if not for a terrific play at the plate in the eighth — and were facing that snorting Jonathan Papelbon, who has retained that specific level of loathsome from Boston. (Can we all agree that Papelbon never gets to play for the Yankees or the Mets, ever? He's a truly gifted villain.) Ike Davis, warming up, led off the inning with a double, and after a pinch runner was moved to third on a sacrifice, Kirk Nieuwenheis — we can now spell that without looking; only took us until July (Ed. Note: DARNIT. "Nieuwenhuis") -- struck out. It looked lost.
But! But! Jordany Valdespin was hit by a pitch, and Ruben Tejada, as Ruben Tejada does, walked. Daniel Murphy then lined a groundball off Papelbon's foot and beat the throw to first, tying the game. Then David Wright, as MVP candidate David Wright has done all year, brought the Mets home.
Watch the video of Wright's hit again. That is not your run-of-the-mill walkoff celebration. This is a team that is starting to, dare we say it, believe. (And boy, the Phillies, even with Ryan Howard coming back as soon as this weekend, looks toast. This is how an empire collapses.) The Mets are now atop the wild-card standings — tied with San Francisco — heading into a weekend series with the Chicago Cubs, who have the worst record in baseball. It is extremely likely that the Mets are going to be a playoff team heading into the All-Star Break. Sure, there are lots of things that need to be fixed, from the defense to (especially) the bullpen. But soon, if this keeps up, if there are more games like last night, as entertaining a game as you can imagine, more fans will feel comfortable showing their heads. It's possible the Mets, these Mets, might not break your heart. There's something cool happening, people.