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Mets Win National League Eastern Division

Yoenis Cespedes and Juan Lagares

Yoenis Cespedes and the Mets are the champs of the NL East (Flickr : Keith Allison)

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Finally.

For the first time since 2006 the New York Mets are National League East Champions and are headed to the postseason.

It’s been a long playoff drought in Queens that included a collapse in 2007 that has haunted Mets fans ever since. 2008 was another promising season before a more minor collapse. Then the team endured six straight losing seasons.

There was finally reasons to be excited again as the 2015 season began. Matt Harvey was making his return from Tommy John Surgery and Jacob deGrom was coming off being named NL Rookie of the Year. The two of them led a starting rotation that added star prospects Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz.

And it was that starting rotation that kept the Mets competitive into July. With injuries to David Wright, Travis d’Arnaud and Daniel Murphy among other things, the Mets struggled at the plate. They got no-hit in June and started July with a three game series against the Cubs in which they were swept and scored just one run.

But in late July the Mets’ front office finally made the necessary moves to compete that fans had waited for. First start prospect Michael Conforto was called up and that same weekend the team traded for veterans Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe . They also traded for Tyler Clippard to strengthen the back of their bullpen.

And then came July 31st. The Mets made maybe the biggest move of the MLB trade deadline and got Yoenis Cespedes. Since that day Cespedes has hit 17 homers for New York and the Mets have probably not coincidentally had one of the best records in baseball.

It was an odd week in New York that first led up to the day that changed the season. Wilmer Flores was crying on the field after he was almost traded to the Milwaukee Brewers. The Mets lost two of three to the Padres and on the morning of July 31st they trailed the Washington Nationals by three games as they came to Queens for a three game series.

That night Flores had an extra inning homer and with Cespedes on his way to join the team everything changed. The Mets swept the Nationals and the rest is now history as they had maybe the best August in team history and began to run away with the division.

There may have been some outside worries that this team began to head the way of the 2007 team after the Nationals closed the gap to only four games before the opening of a three game series in DC. But the Mets put any worries to rest after they swept Washington with three late come from behind wins showing a perseverance they have become famous for.

Many considered the Nationals the preseason favorites to win the World Series, and rightfully so after they acquired Max Scherzer in the offseason to bolster an already strong rotation. But there is a reason 162 games are played and a champion is not crowned before spring training. Ultimately it was the Mets who made the better in season moves and held up better for six months.

A controversy surrounding Harvey and his innings limits put a damper on things at times in September, but on Saturday when the Mets beat the Cincinnati Reds 10-2 it was Harvey who pitched into the seventh and reminded everyone why many teammates have called him the Mets’ “horse.”

What also helped the Mets down the stretch was the return of d’Arnaud from injury and then the return of Wright, who has looked like he has not missed a beat after being diagnosed with spinal stenosis. In his first at-bat back in August in homered and then on Saturday in the top of the ninth he hit a three run homer.

Wright is the only Mets player remaining from the 2006 playoff team. The longest-tenured active player to have played his entire career with one team, Wright signed a deal with stay with the Mets for a long time after the 2012 season. He was rewarded by being named only the fourth captain in Mets’ history in 2013.

In 2006 Wright was a young infielder experiencing the playoffs for the first time. Now nine years later he will be back in October as the veteran who has stuck around long enough to lead a new group of young players to the postseason.