It didn't take long for the Mets to send a message about how much fight was left in them after Carlos Beltran was dealt to the Giants.
Jose Reyes led off the game with an infield single that probably should have been ruled an error on Joey Votto and turned toward the Mets dugout after reaching first. He raised his arm and made the claw sign that he has made dozens of times since it became the team's fetish earlier this season.
As far as symbolic gestures go, Reyes's claw was something less than the raised fists of John Carlos and Tommie Smith but it still had some meaning. It was a sign that the Mets weren't quite ready to call an end to the fun they've been having by outperforming expectations this season, something they spent the rest of the night reinforcing.
Reyes would come around to score with David Wright later in the inning on Angel Pagan's double and the rout was on from there. The Mets would pile up 11 hits, pick up an uncharacteristic three hits with runners in scoring position and start the post-Beltran era with an 8-2 win over the Reds.
After the game, Mike Pelfrey, who was highly critical of the message sent by a Beltran trade before the trigger was pulled, made the team's decision not to roll over and play dead even more explicit by sharing something that Willie Harris told the team before the game.
"Let's make the playoffs, too, and let's beat Carlos Beltran in the playoffs."
How quickly a friend becomes an enemy, huh?
It's easy to make those kinds of bold statements when Pelfrey goes out and pitches his best game of the season. The maddening right-hander had perhaps his best game of the season in going the distance to beat the Reds on Wednesday night and if he keeps pitching like that it will be a while longer before the Mets have to feel sheepish about making claims on a shot at making the playoffs.
And if Lucas Duda keeps hitting homers as the team's new right fielder while David Wright drives in four runs, that'll do just fine as well. It might not wind up being enough to change the face of the National League -- lost in all the crowing was another Braves win in extra innings, although this one didn't take larcenous help from an umpire -- but would you rather the Mets chose a different approach to the final two months of the season?
Like many other people, we asked the question about whether Terry Collins could keep this team playing hard after news of the trade broke on Wednesday. The thought was that they would still fight, but it should have been obvious.
This team hasn't lost their way despite opening 5-13, playing without Johan Santana or losing big chunks of their offense. They didn't mourn then and they showed Wednesday night that they aren't going to mourn now.
The Mets did the right thing on Wednesday when they dealt Beltran, but it might be less important than finally having a team that does the right things on the field regardless of the atmosphere around them.