This is the way they build a ballplayer in the factory, the kind that gets his uniform dirty in batting practice, whose eyeblack runs all over his face because of sweat, not because he layered it on like war paint, who’s got his head down for three-quarters of a grand slam because it wouldn’t occur to him to admire a ball he has treated so harshly.

Yes. This is your center fielder, Mets fans, and this is your team. Even now, with a day to enjoy yesterday’s 11-2 stomping of the Padres at Citi Field, with another day to savor it, you’ve probably still kept your illusions in check, probably allowed reason and reality to temper your happiness just a little.

And that’s OK. Really. Sometimes, what you need as a fan is a team you can like because of how it plays, not how often it wins. Sometimes you need a team with guys like Collin Cowgill, too busy digging for a triple to notice his scalded line drive had cleared the fence for a victory-lap slam in the seventh.

“Hey,” third base coach Tim Teufel had to finally tell Cowgill, dusting the dirt off his uniform. “That went out.”

Cowgill shrugged and trotted the final 90 feet.

“We provide chances,” Mets manager Terry Collins would say. “It’s up to you what you do with them.”

So the Mets are 1-0, on the way to 65-97 or 77-85 or 81-81 or whatever awaits across the next six months, and even if the Padres aren’t likely to make the Giants or the Dodgers quiver out west, they are a major-league club, one that finished with two more wins than the Mets last year, and that didn’t seem to matter to the 41,053 at Citi Field yesterday.