It?s kind of funny. Over the past couple weeks I had wondered how I?d react and what it would be like when we finally clinched the NL East. I tried to picture in my mind what would the celebration would be like. I wondered who I would run up to and grab first. I reminded myself over and over to savor the moment and try to take it all in.
But when Cliff caught that final fly ball in left field, my mind went blank and I just reacted. Everything was so spontaneous, everyone was just running for the pile up. It was a surreal experience. The lights, the noise, the emotion ? the first few minutes of celebration are still like a blur in my mind. But I do know for a fact that it was the greatest moment I?ve ever had on a baseball field.
A few days later, it?s still just sinking in that we?ve clinched the NL East. It?s still so fresh in my mind that I can still feel the sting of the champagne in my eyes.
It?s particularly gratifying to share the moment with this group of players. Knowing the caliber of guys in our clubhouse makes it even more rewarding. Everyone knew from the first day of Spring Training that we had the talent on the field. We had proven performers who we knew were capable of putting up big numbers on the stat sheet. We knew we could win ballgames.
What we didn?t know at that point was how well we would all come together. We didn?t know how well we would all get along and how much fun we would have together during the course of the season. We?ve grown so close during these past seven months and had so many special moments together that winning the NL East together is even more rewarding.
It?s been a long time since the franchise has won a division title. I was five years old the last time the Mets finished first in the division, so I?d been waiting a long time this just like all of the rest of the Mets fans out there. As a lifelong Mets fan myself, I think I really identify with the fans. I felt as happy for the fans as I did for myself. I know what it?s like to be a fan of this club.
The atmosphere at Shea Stadium the night of the clincher was unbelievable. I?ll never forget the way the fans came out in full force and reacted. It was electric, like I imagine the playoff games will be around here in a couple weeks. During the game, I found myself glancing over at the stands, looking at the faces in the crowd. People were so happy. It just made me feel good that I could play some small part in creating that much pure joy.
After the final out, seeing those 55,000 fans at Shea Stadium go completely insane sent chills up my spine. It was the ultimate high. A few of us wanted to celebrate with the fans, too, so we went over to the stands to give them some high fives and share the moment with them, too.
Hopefully, this is the first of many, though. I don?t want to sound greedy and say we?re going to replicate the Braves’ run of division titles but we have a core group of talented players to become a force in the NL East for a long time. We have the veteran guys who keep us on an even keel throughout the long season and the young guys who bring a lot of energy and excitement to the ballpark everyday.
You really couldn?t have scripted a better regular season for us. It?s been a dream season in a lot of ways for us. Now, hopefully, we can keep our focus over the course of the last week or so, prepare ourselves mentally and physically, and go into the postseason on a high note.
We?re not done yet. In a lot of way this is just the beginning for us. I just hope you?re all enjoying this as much as I am.
At this time of year you?re trying to be smart about the way you go about your work and training to ensure you maintain your strength ?- mentally and physically ?- through the most crucial part of the schedule.
Willie?s done a great job of cutting down on batting practice and extra work towards the end of the year, plus we have a lot of veterans who?ve played into October before. I lean on them a little and watch how they go about it.
The stretch is when you have to dig down deep and see what?s left in the tank. It?s a great part of the athletic challenge in baseball ? our season is a marathon.
Personally, I feel real good. I think I learned a lesson in pacing myself last year. It was my first full season and I got to a point where I ran into a little wall. Of course, it also helps to have the lead that we have in our division this season because it?s allowed Willie to give the regulars a rest here and there. So I feel great, ready to roll.
I had a little rest when I sat out the second game of our double-header with the Braves, but I don?t think my teammates and coaches like having me on the bench. I?m pretty fidgety, walking around, getting up, sitting down. Jose Reyes is pretty active, too. We?re like head cheerleaders when we?re not in the game, the way we?re always yelling from the dugout.
I don?t like taking days off, but I recognize it?s good for the club to get some other guys at-bats and get a little rest heading into the home stretch.
But there?s still three weeks left in the regular season and I?m going to focus on each game, one at a time. There?s no rush to get to the postseason. I enjoy every game. Sure, we have a big lead but as a competitor you want to win every game and get a hit every at-bat, regardless of how far ahead or behind you might be in the standings.
We still want to win every game and hopefully get to the postseason with a full head of steam. The idea is to finish strong.
We got a big boost this week was when Cliff Floyd rejoined us. Not just because of his presence in the middle of the order but because he?s an emotional leader in the clubhouse, too. He?s good friends with a lot of the guys on our club and he?s great to have around. He?s part of the glue that holds the team together.