Willie Harris watched the 2010 Mets' woeful road play from the opposing dugout last year in D.C. On opening weekend, he helped the Mets reverse the trend.
So nearly half the team has no direct knowledge of the Mets' profound road woes last season. That is, the newcomers have no direct knowledge with the possible exception of former thorn Willie Harris, who tormented the Mets while in the division with the Washington Nationals.
Still, the holdovers from last year's edition of the Mets made no attempt to minimize the importance of taking two of three at Sun Life Stadium from the Florida Marlins this past weekend to kick off Terry Collins' tenure as manager. Heck, first baseman Ike Davis even brought up the topic of last year's road woes without solicitation in discussing why the weekend showing meant so much.
Of course, it is an obvious statement to note the importance of winning a road series. But it was particularly important for the Mets to do so right off the bat -- even in the holdover players' minds -- if only to shelve it as a topic of conversation again this year and prevent it from infiltrating their psyche.
Last season, the Mets did not win a series away from Citi Field until sweeping consecutive June interleague series at Baltimore and Cleveland. The Mets did not win a road series in a National League ballpark until Aug. 20-22 at Pittsburgh's PNC Park.
It was getting swept in a four-game series at Florida last May that prompted chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon to greet the team during their next stop in Atlanta and set off alarm bells about then-manager Jerry Manuel's future. Between series in Miami and San Juan last season, the Mets went a combined 1-8 on the road against the Marlins in 2010.
"I think it's very important psychologically if for no other reason," said R.A. Dickey, the winning pitcher in Sunday's 9-2 rubber-game victory. "We kept thinking [last year], 'We've got to win on the road. We've got to win on the road.' ... I think last year we went on the road, everybody made such a big deal -- 'When you go on the road you're this, and when you're at home you're this.' So we started to buy into that. I think if we can get out of the gates good, all of a sudden there's a team psychology that kind of comes into play that, 'Hey, we're a good team no matter where we are.'"
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The Mets had a .395 winning percentage on the road last season.
And 2011 started favorably, even after Marlins ace Josh Johnson held the Mets hitless through six innings and Florida ultimately won, 6-2, on Opening Day.
"The first game was more of what Josh Johnson did than what we didn't do," third baseman David Wright said. "All in all, it was a good weekend, especially since the last couple of years we've had a lot of trouble here. It's good to get off to a good start. We're going to have to play just as well in Philadelphia [next series]."
Asked about how the Mets rebounded from the loss to Johnson in Game 1, Davis brought up the 2010 road woes without prodding.
"It's just great to get a series win on the road to start off the year," the sophomore first baseman said. "Last year we struggled with that. We're trying to improve on everything. So far, so good. Josh Johnson pitched a helluva game. And we came out the next two days and made up for it."
Said Dickey: "We eclipsed our win total from all of last year at Sun Life Stadium. We won two of three. ... So there's a lot of good things going on. After the first game, you didn't see anybody hang their head. You just came to work the next day. It's a real professional environment. I think that's going to be good."