By Mike Steffanos
I made my fourth visit to Shea yesterday. My previous trips yielded two dismal losses and a rainout, so like Johan Santana I was hoping for a streak breaker yesterday. It took a little extra time and the need to dodge some raindrops, but in the end it was all worth it. I was also privileged to enjoy a blogger's night with old friend Greg Prince from Faith and Fear in Flushing, my colleague NostraDennis from this blog and Metphistopheles, the latter two who I was meeting for the first time.
I will be back later on with something on last night's game and also this afternoon's victory (stats for Santana and Maine have already been updated). For now, I'd just like to say what a pleasure it was to note the atmosphere at the ballpark both during the game and afterwards. With the club finally playing well the poisonous atmosphere that permeated Shea for so long was noticeably absent.
The sight of their team playing with a renewed sense of energy and purpose energized the fan base. Even when Jonathan Sanchez was putting zeroes on the board for the Giants there was no sense of foreboding that seemed to hover over Shea as the club struggled.
Carlos Delgado -- while certainly not the All Star slugger of a few years ago -- bears no resemblance to the stiff who was holding down the first base job earlier in the season.
On the subway home from the game everyone was relaxed and talking up their team. What a contrast from previous post-game rides.
Today's win padded the winning streak to 6 games -- significant, as you have to go back to 2006 to find the last time the Mets won 6 in a row. While the news about Alou's probable career-ending hamstring on top of Church's ongoing woes is gloomy, you have the sense that this club may find a way -- as they did so often two years ago.
I'm not going crazy here. The Mets are still in second place, and they still need to prove they can permanently distance themselves from the .500 mark. There are real problems that go beyond the corner outfield spots. Still, I like their chances of making this season interesting when it seemed not that long ago that they were a lost cause.
When they dropped 2 of 3 to the Yankees and then looked lifeless and flat in losing that first game in St. Louis, I wouldn't have given you a nickel for their chances of ever really contending. They were showing signs of waking up, but always seemed to have a game like that one to kill any momentum.
They're still not a great team, but they have enough to contend. What's more important is that they actually finally seem to have what it takes to do so. Say what you want about the way Randolph was fired, but Jerry Manuel has done some things very, very right in his short time in charge. Even a blogger like me suddenly feels a new sense of energy. Back later.