The final day of the Mets’ 2013 season started with a flashback. A 20-minute pregame ceremony to honor Mike Piazza a symbol of better times in Mets history attracted a sellout crowd just the third this year kicked the afternoon off at Citi Field Sunday.

A video tribute flashed on the big screen displaying Images of Piazza’s most memorable moments over his eight seasons in Flushing. Former Mets players were presented. The 41981 in attendance roared with each highlight and name. Piazza and his father cried. A rare sense of excitement engulfed the usually empty ballpark.

The Mets won the game that followed tapping into the energy to top the Brewers 3-2 to conclude their season at 74-88 and in third place in the National League East.

Jon Niese allowed two runs over six innings. Eric Young Jr. swiped two bases in the first inning to finish season with 46 stolen bases and take the National League crown in the category. Juan Lagares added his 15th outfield assist of the season the most by a rookie in the majors since Delmon Young compiled 16 for Tampa Bay in 2007.

But the result was ultimately irrelevant. Their fate a fifth straight losing season was sealed weeks ago. This time next year the Mets expect a different regular season finale. They are banking on not requiring a novelty act to play in front of sellout crowds. They intend to contend.

“I was just telling those guys the same thing: ‘What you guys went through today next year at this meeting we’re going to have we’re going to be talking about where we’re going to play tomorrow’” Mets manager Terry Collins said referring to the start of the postseason. “And they better get ready for it.”

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has frequently reiterated that the Mets foresee becoming perennial playoff contenders beginning in 2014. A significant amount of money – at least $43 million between Johan Santana and Jason Bay’s expiring contracts – is coming off the books this offseason.