Before you send your playoff ticket deposits to General Delivery, Flushing, stop for a second to consider the quality of the opposition faced by the Mets this past week in Phoenix. If that’s too much, the Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro has done so for you :

Perception: The Diamondbacks have the worst bullpen ever.

Reality: It may not quite be the worst of all time, but it’s well on its way to being the worst in more than 50 years. So far, 19 pitchers have taken the mound in relief, and they’ve combined to post a 6.24 bullpen ERA. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that would be the highest since the 1950 St. Louis Browns had a 6.62 bullpen ERA.

Still, wins against the terrible teams count in the stands just like playing the Cardinals, as I’m sure David Roth, quoted below, is aware.

An infield made up of Wright, Reyes, Keppinger/Anderson Hernandez/Cairo and Mike Jacobs is 1) cheap, 2) very productive and 3) likable. Depending on where you fell on the Mo Vaughn issue, Mets fans haven’t seen even one of those three over the last few seasons. So while I may not believe that this is the year they’ve got the teamwork to make the dream work, I do believe that I’m pretty fired up by the group of hungry and happy young dudes starting in the infield. If Beltran gets into one of those late-season kicks and knocks off the Brian McRae imitation, I might just have to drink up on some kool-aid.

Not since Merv Griffen last visited our comments secton has there been so much enthusiasm for hungry and happy young dudes. David’s Brian McRae comparison, while cringeworthy, is very much on target. Beltran’s had his adjustment period, the stint on the DL, the cautious spell not wanting to blow out the hamstring, and now the comeback from the collision with Mike Cameron. The Mets cannot realistically expect their 7-8-9 hitters to produce down the stretch the way they have earlier in the week. Fred Wilpon’s modest dream of “meaningful games in September” is about to become a reality, but Beltran might have more to say about the outcome of those contests than anyone else.

For those who were wondering, yes, I throughly enjoyed my 24 hours in Phoenix, AZ, truly one of America’s finer cities. I had an engrossing conversation with an Eric Roberts lookalike who had recently been released from jail where he’d served a short stretch for violating a restraining order. It does seem quite unfair that in the supposed land of the free, a well-tanned, heavily perspiring citizen can be incarcerated merely because he left an answering message for his old lady (who had previously attacked him with a knife, not that the judge even cared).