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September 30, 2007

2007 Mets, R.I.P.

The 2007 New York Mets never gave me great confidence, even when they were well ahead of Atlanta and Philadelphia. And I want you to know, I foresaw their untimely demise a few weeks ago, while it was merely a perverse fantasy of the baseball commentatorship.

But then again, I'm an eternal pessimist when it comes to the Mets, and only my brother, who makes me look like a mild optimist, is worse. I'll be watching a game and say to my son, "Delgado's about to hit into a double play." Or -- this actually happened not long ago -- the Mets will have come from behind in the top of the 9th against the Marlins, to take a three-run lead, and the Marlins will have put the tying runs on base. And I'll have said to my son, "They're going to lose this. You realize that, don't you?" In the game I'm thinking of, the Marlins tied the game in the bottom of the 9th and beat the Mets in the 10th.

When your team disintegrates before you in historic fashion, and finishes a mere one game behind the division leaders, you can look to many "what if's" to find one or two that would have changed the bottom line. Now, obviously, the Mets' pitching was a disaster on wheels in the second half, and just as obviously, Jose Reyes became a head case. But I look to August 29, in the middle of the Mets' four-game sweep at the hands of the Phillies in Philadelphia. In the 9th inning, down 3-2, the Mets had the tying run on third with one out, and Marlon Anderson on first. Shawn Green hit a weak grounder that should have been a force play at second, scoring the tying run. For some reason, Marlon Anderson, who was a fantastic bench player for the Mets after he was picked up late in the season, made a rough slide outside the basepaths. The umpire called interference, making Green the third out. Game over. And as far as I'm concerned, season over, too.

I have nothing against the Phillies, whose late-season surge brought them up to the border line between mediocrity and respectability. They legitimately won the division with 88 victories after the team in front completely imploded, though in fairness to the Phillies, they would have finished about 10 games behind if it had not. Last year's World Series showed that mediocre teams have a great chance to become World Champions, so it's fair to say the Phillies, likewise, could win it all.

If I said "May the best team win," that would obviously exclude them, so let me just say this: "Who cares?"

UPDATE (10/2): In April, the Mets team ERA was 2.96, in May 3.69, in June 4.20, in July 4.50, in August 4.93, and in September 5.11. Says it all.