Winning Mets inspire 51s players to improve

They watch in the clubhouse daily, eyes peered on big brother, each intent on joining him soon.

Winners following the actions of winners.

Don Logan has seen both sides. He witnessed those baseball seasons when the parent club of the 51s muddled through losing ways and became buried in the standings, times when the Dodgers and Padres and Blue Jays were eliminated from playoff contention long before Labor Day arrived.

He also has seen the good side of it.

Like right now.

The Mets sit atop the National League East, having caught the Nationals with a three-game sweep of Washington last weekend at a raucous Citi Field. Queens might not be as glamorous as Manhattan or as cool as Brooklyn, but it’s New York’s most underrated borough for a different reason today.

Its baseball team is producing some electric results.

That, and a slice of pepperoni pizza at Lucia remains nirvana.

What all the winning from the Mets means to the 51s at the box office is limited because Las Vegas has its own first-place team making its way toward a third consecutive Southern Division title and playoff appearance under manager Wally Backman. Others continue to chase Backman’s team, but only El Paso sits within reasonable distance.

The Chihuahuas haven’t conceded.

What all the winning in New York means to the 51s players, however, is entirely different.

“I absolutely think it helps their mindset in a positive manner when the (Mets) are doing well,” said Logan, the 51s president. “We have a lot of guys who have already been up there and are now back with us, who want to get back there. They might be here now, but they know they have been a part of what’s happening in New York. When the team up there isn’t doing well, you have guys saying, ‘Hey, I’m better than him.’ That’s no way to play the game and get better.

“You can’t win up there if you don’t have the level of players capable of getting there. For us, it goes back to (Backman), a guy who every day talks about paying attention to detail and doing your job and playing the game the right way and continuing to grind. If you do those things, you will get your chance up there. And a lot of our guys have.”

Danny Muno has. A lot. The infielder is a member of the Mets’ 40-man roster, meaning he can be sent between Las Vegas and New York as often as the organization desires. He was promoted to the Mets on April 17 and optioned to Las Vegas on April 30, promoted May 25 and optioned June 3, promoted June 5 and optioned June 11, promoted June 12 and optioned June 15, promoted July 10 and optioned July 26.

Muno must really have that bit about making sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position down to a science.

“When the (Mets) are winning, it’s motivating and encouraging for all of us,” Muno said. “You want to do well here to get back there. The entire organization knew it was just a matter of time before they started winning up there, that they had the talent and chemistry needed. But everyone here in (Las Vegas) is a major league ballplayer. It’s a matter of putting it together and getting a break. We go out here as they do there expecting to win every day. Everyone wants to play for a winner, no matter where you’re at.”

It has become a trend for the organization’s top tier this season. The Mets and 51s are in first place, with Binghamton in the Eastern League of Double A. So when Sept. 1 arrives and New York makes its call-ups for what should be a stretch playoff run, Las Vegas is secure in the idea that those replacing key losses will do so with comparable skill.

Every minor league playoff team deals with the same issue annually, the idea that a few of those who helped you reach the postseason won’t be around when the journey concludes.

“The No. 1 goal of every organization is to win at the big-league level, but they’re also not going to wipe you out with call-ups,” Logan said. “That’s a fallacy. You have to remember that every guy they call up needs to get in for batting practice and get their grounders, and all of that takes time. They can’t have a huge roster up there. But this is the nature of the business. Maybe the (Mets) will call up a pitcher, maybe a righty and a lefty, maybe a defensive specialist for late in games. But then we will get good players from Double A. That’s why it’s so important that this has become a solid organization all the way around.

“Winning does that.”

So they watch big brother on TV daily from the clubhouse and dream of joining him.

If the telephone rings for any of them, at least they know Danny Muno can provide a fast route to the airport.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be a heard on “Seat and Ed” on Fox Sports 1340 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Follow him on Twitter: @edgraney.

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