If is a magical word, especially when it comes to being a sports fan. And it is a key foundation piece to a met fan staple "There's always next year!" It is also the reason why I don't believe that the Mets have no shot for 3,4,5 years to come (or heck, even in 2012).In sports, teams (and players) are unpredictable from year to year. between age related performance changes (up and down), injuries, and roster moves, there is no way you can say with certainty at the end of a season what a team will do the next year (well, maybe in 1979 you could...), never mind 3 years down the road.So I just don't accept the concept that many posters in the Mets blogosphere have accepted as gospel of no hope of being relevant again to maybe 2014. Or 2015. I have seen as far out as 2020. Teams turn over players at a rapid pace (the Mets finished 2011 with 3 guys from the 2006 LCS left, and the Cards had 2). And change does not have to come from prospects in the system graduating to the big club.So, back to the "If" word. If a few things go right for a change (and yes, that can happen with the Mets too), they absolutely can make a run at the playoffs in 2012, and every year beyond, and that is without including a $170,000,000 payroll.Just a few IFs:• Ike’s ankle heals and he picks up where he left off last year• David Wright revitalizes his career after the field dimensions (and his mental approach) are adjusted• The FO trades for a solid SP and finds another productive one out of the FA pickings. Neise takes a big step forward and finally turns his potential into a sustained run of strong pitching.• Duda continues to develop as a power hitter, and combines with Davis to form a scary heart of the order.• Just for the heck of it, Jose re-signs and repeats last season, without the DL stints.• The new pen arms (and there will be many) actually add some valueNo, not all these things will happen. But, there are probably some others that will happen for the good (someone finally nails down the 2B job?). And frankly, taken individually, none that are outlandish IMO.My point is, there is not that much separating this team from the teams of a few years back that won in the upper 80s and were competing for a playoff spot up until the last day.Of course, bad things can happen and the team could drop 10 wins and become the Astros. But if that level of change is possible, so is adding 10 wins and challenging for a playoff spot. IF IF IF. And not impossible.