Today the Mets completed one of the most brilliant collapses in Major League Baseball history. Few teams have fallen apart on a level comparable to the Mets' recent implosion.
As play ended on September 12, the Mets held a seemingly insurmountable seven-game lead over the second-place Philadelphia Phillies. With with just 17 games to go in the regular season, the Mets were a post-season lock and a favorite to make it to the World Series.
What happened next has left me in stunned disbelief: between September 13 and today the Mets played their worst baseball of the year--winning just five games and losing 12--while the Phillies played some of their best, going 13-4 over that same stretch. In the end, the Phillies edged out the Mets for the division title by just one game; the Phillies go on, the Mets go home.
Tim Marchman puts into words exactly how I felt recently:
For the Mets and their fans, the last two weeks have been less like a late season collapse and more like a mystical experience in which science and religion have converged and become one. Many baseball teams have lost a lead down the stretch, but few, if any, have become the center of a temporal dislocation in which the precise same thing happens at the precise same moment, every single day. Were a theologian and a quantum physicist inclined, they could no doubt plumb the mysteries of reason and faith simply by examining these two weeks minutely; those of us who do not contemplate the meaning of existence for a living can just stare on in horror.The impact of today's loss runs deep. A win would have guaranteed at least a tie for the division title and a one-game playoff with Philly, or kept them in the running for the wild card playoff slot. Instead, the Mets threw their season away just 10 minutes into the top of the first inning--they were down 7-0 before two outs had been recorded. Such a display is nothing short of deplorable at such an important time, and it encapsulates a sea change in how fans may now view this team:
This disaster changes the Mets' basic identity. Before yesterday the story of the Mets, from 1962 to now, wasn't about how good they were, but about the way they played, and how they were always worth believing in because they played tough, ruthless baseball, win or lose. When they were great, they won the greatest victories; when they were just good, they lost admirably, and sometimes even won.Marchman further details the team's disintegration, and how improbable and ingloriously historic it was here.