Mets Put Exclamation Point on First Half

They're halfway home after 11-1 pasting of Phillies

By Josh Alper
|  Wednesday, Jul 4, 2012  |  Updated 9:21 AM EDT
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The Mets have lit up our lives so far this season.

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The Mets said that Citi Field played host to more fans on Tuesday night than it had for any other game in the stadium's history.

It would be swell if the people were all there to celebrate the end of a first half that should probably be encased in amber so that it can always be looked at with fondness for the glorious memories and totally unexpected joy.

The masses actually turned out because of the postgame fireworks display and not because of the baseball game, but the Mets didn't let that stop them from putting on a show.

They jumped out to an early lead, padded it in the middle innings with a David Wright homer and rode Jon Niese's eight innings to a giddy 11-1 win over the Phillies. That leaves the team with a 44-37 record after the first 81 games of the season, a pace that would have them wind up with 88 victories and a strong chance of a playoff berth if they were able to repeat it.

Repeating it isn't the likeliest outcome, of course. We'd be remiss if we didn't mention that the Mets reached this point in the season with winning records in each of the last two years -- the 2010 team was a game ahead of the current squad -- before having the roof cave in on them in the second half.

You could come up with a long list of reasons why things will be different for this team, starting with the R.A. Dickey/Johan Santana tandem at the top of the rotation, but you can only do it while admitting all the things that could go wrong. An injury here and a slump there makes for a very different picture that doesn't include a ticket to the dance come October.

We're not waiting for the other shoe to drop, though. We're seeing Daniel Murphy's four-hit night on Tuesday and Ike Davis getting 10 straight extra-base hits with optimism about how much they have underperformed for the majority of the season and how much more they can do in the dog days of summer.

We're hopeful that Niese's great night on Tuesday is a sign that he can pick up any slack that Dickey and Santana might let go after their remarkable halves, we're excited about the prospect of help from the minors and we're confident that Sandy Alderson can find a way to shore up the pen before it springs another leak. And Terry Collins feels a lot more right for this job than Jerry Manuel ever did, which is one more piece of the puzzle.

Hopefully, a few of the people who came for the post-game fireworks enjoyed the ones during the game enough to keep turning out when there aren't any skyrockets in flight. That would only be another sign that these aren't the same old Mets any longer.

London 2012 is right around the corner. Get the top Olympic news, including what to watch, results and features on our local athletes at NBC's Olympic Zone.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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