Between now and the All-Star break, we'll find out if these streaking New York Mets are for real. They certainly look the part. This weekend's destruction of the Diamondbacks was nearly convincing: especially the defeat of the NL's leading pitcher Brandon Webb. The Mets now have the best record in the league and a 6.5 game lead in the East. Their everyday lineup is deep and balanced. They look like they can play with anyone. Over the next few weeks, we'll find out if this is truly a 100-win juggernaut out at Shea - they'll face the second place Phils, the first-place Reds, the Yankees and Red Sox, and the Blue Jays. If they maintain their lead, the'll breeze to a divisional title - their first since 1988. Their leader? Wright, Reyes, and Delgado are all terrific but this year's blockbuster player is Carlos Beltran. Despite missing two weeks, Beltran has 17 homers, 49 runs batted in, 12 steals, a .297 average and .406 on base percentage. He's third in the league with a 1.028 OPS. The Mets have a strong bench, a great running game (they lead MLB in steals), good defense, and a terrific pen. The starting pitching is strong at the top but weak on the bottom, although this Cuban kid Soler looks like a keeper. Another front-line starter would really close the loop. But this is Beltran's team - and this just might be this team's year.
UPDATE: Fred slags the Times for paying the surging Mets little heed, while focusing too much coverage on the sagging Yanks. And Lance says don't bring up '88. Good point. Mike Sciosca may be reading.