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On One Game And The Grand Scheme Of Things

There are two reasons I want the Mets to turn this thing around. The first is obvious: Awesomeness. Making the playoffs is a thrill; the Mets have done it seven times in 46 seasons and every single time has been amazing to watch (though the first two preceded my birth, I have been able to relive them on video). Tons of crappy teams have proven that anything can happen once you make the postseason (see: 2006 Cardinals), so even if the Mets stumble to the finish line (see: 2000 Yankees) the clock gets reset once the regular season ends and the division series begins.

The second reason I want the Mets to make the playoffs is because I don't want to be subjected to another offseason of the can't-win-in-Septembers, didn't-have-the-hearts, and Phillies-just-wanted-it-mores from the local media. If the Mets fall short again it won't be because of any of those things. It'll be simply because they lacked the production necessary to come out ahead during the final three weeks of the season. If they lose out in 2008 the way they did in 2007 it'll be because they didn't play well enough, not because they didn't want it enough. But hell, we're getting ahead of ourselves here.

The Mets are a half-game back of the Phillies for first place in the NL East and a game up on the Brewers for the Wild Card. The Mets have ten games to play; the Brewers and the Phillies have nine apiece. The Mets and Phillies are tied in the loss column, so the difference between the two teams in the standings can be made up if the Mets just win their game in hand (that game will be played against the Cubs on the 25th while the Phillies take a day off). There are a lot of ways this can still end well for the Mets, though there will still be plenty of articles on the Mets' demise now that they're not in first place anymore. It's very reactionary (and popular, I guess) to get bent out of shape by the results of one game, but there are a lot of problems with that approach for me.

One of the challenges of writing about the Mets every day is fighting the tendency to micro-analyze everything that happens. What do we know today that we didn't know yesterday? Very little, actually. Regardless of what actually happened last night (or any night), it's easy to paint the Mets with last night's brush even when we know that their portrait is really the aggregate of everything that has happened to this point, not just what has happened most recently. If the Mets were a good or borderline very good team a week ago, a few crummy games doesn't really change that. And yet, every night I sit here and try to find things to write that make sense and aren't tragically rehashed versions of what I wrote yesterday or two weeks ago, while also avoiding the alarmism that pervades most daily coverage of anything, sports teams in particular (and the Mets of late most of all).

Analyzing the daily goingson of particular ballplayers is equally challenging. I'm about as objective and analytical as the next guy, but I think we can all acknowledge the near meaninglessness of a single day's worth of accomplishments in the grand scheme of things. How has Carlos Beltran done this season? Well, he went 0-for-4 last night, so I guess he sucks. But if we take a step back and look at the whole season, we see that he's been rather marvelous (again). He's third in the NL in Win Shares, trailing just Lance Berkman and Albert Pujols. But he netted doodily-squat yesterday; how many Win Shares is that?

The Mets have stunk up the joint this past week, losing their last three games to two pretty lousy teams. As fans, all we can do is stay positive, point to the long season during which they've generally played pretty well, and hope that that has more bearing on the home stretch than do the last ten games of stinky. I may hang my head in shame from time to time over the next two weeks, but I'm in it 'til the end, win or lose, and I'm pretty sure you'll all be there with me.