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Mets Morning News: NL East champs focused on home-field advantage, Nationals focused on hilarious irrelevance

Your Tuesday morning dose of Mets and Major League Baseball news, notes, and links.

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Meet the Mets

The National League East champions were off last night, but they're playoff-bound. Over at Fangraphs, Dave Cameron wrote that the Mets are a scary playoff team, mainly because of their starting rotation but also because of their respectable offense.

Speaking of the playoffs, the Mets are now focused on home-field advantage in the NLDS. They'll try to maintain their advantage in that regard in Philadelphia, where Travis d'Arnaud and his brother Chase will play against each other for the first time as major league players.

If you wanted a peek into Keith Hernadez's life—or to see "I wasn't talking about the hot dog" in the New York Times—Michael Powell has you covered with his profile of the former first baseman and current SNY color commentator.

Michael Cuddyer sounds pretty happy to have turned down a qualifying offer from the Rockies last offseason to sign with the Mets instead.

The Daily News reviews what the Mets' current players were up to back in 2006.

Around the NL East

If you pay attention to baseball, you're almost certainly aware of Jonathan Papelbon's attack on Bryce Harper in the Nationals' dugout on Sunday. Although Nationals manager Matt Williams claimed he wasn't even aware of what happened in his own dugout, he's still managing the team. But Washington suspended Papelbon for the rest of the season—four games, technically, since he ended his appeal of a three-game suspension handed down by Major League Baseball for intentionally hitting Manny Machado with a pitch. Papelbon is a pretty swell guy.

Of course, there are Papelbon defenders, and there's more bad writing about all of this out there if you're inclined to find it yourself. But if you're looking for good writing on the subject, Adam Kilgore, who covers the Nationals for the Washington Post and knows everyone involved, sums things up nicely. Ted Berg says that Harper is not to blame for the Nationals' disappointing season, and he's right. Ben Lindbergh has a good piece at Grantland, too.

It wouldn't be a big baseball story if Grant Brisbee didn't write something great about it, too. And former major league pitcher Dirk Hayhurst writes about the ridiculousness of the unwritten rules and veteran players' inclination to enforce them, whatever they actually are.

Oh, and the Nationals won yesterday, not that it mattered at all to anyone.

Around Major League Baseball

In the first round of the NLDS, the Mets are incredibly likely to face the Dodgers, but they still haven't clinched their division just yet. They lost to the Giants last night in the first game of a four-game series. Los Angeles needs just one win over the Giants to clinch. The Dodgers now trail the Mets by two games for home-field advantage.

The race for the second Wild Card in the American League remains tight this morning, as does the race for the division in the AL West. Starting with the division, the Rangers lost their third-straight game last night. The Astros beat the Marinerstoo, which leaves Houston just one-and-a-half games back for the division.

As close as Houston is to the division lead, they still have the Angles and Twins on their heels for the Wild Card if they can't overtake the Rangers. Both Minnesota and Los Angeles won last night, and they remain one-and-a-half and one-half games behind the Astros, respectively.

The Mariners hired former Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto as their new GM.

The Cardinals and Pirates played an exciting game, which St. Louis won, but Stephen Piscotty had to be carted off the field after a violent collision. Initial reports sound promising, but here's hoping he is okay.

Yesterday on Amazin' Avenue

Matt Callan might not write as often as he used to here, but his piece that ran yesterday is fantastic and well worth your time.

Join us in making a community Mets playoff roster!

Even the podcast is sounding cheery with the Mets' division championship.

Jon Niese is up for a bullpen role in the playoffs, which makes sense since the Mets seemingly have four starters lined up for the playoffs.

David Wright's routine to get ready for games is much longer than it used to be thanks to the condition of his back.

Todd Frazier thinks the Mets are the team to beat in the playoffs after their pitchers dominated the Reds over the weekend.

There's plenty to watch this week, even though the Mets have already wrapped up the division.

Meter Avenue has your weekly review of the Mets' pitchers and position players.

See if you can name every pitcher who has pitched in a division-clinching game for the Mets.

This date in Mets history

On this date in 1975, Casey Stengel, whose number is one of just three retired by the Mets, passed away.