When the Mets are officially eliminated from postseason play, not just any run-of-the-mill loss will do. The clinching game must include the key elements that sunk the season - an injury, a stupid baserunning play and no offense.
It might have been nice to throw in cringeworthy fielding play for old times' sake, but the fielding has actually been less of a problem since the first half of the season. Moving Daniel Murphy to first was a big part of that. But Murphy would show that he can be even more dangerous on the bases than he was in left field.
First Fernando Tatis left the game in the second with a sprained finger. Then the Mets offense was completely shut down by ex-teammate Pedro Martinez. With two outs in the eighth, Daniel Murphy doubled. Charlie Manuel pulled a Grady Little and left Pedro in, though he was approaching 130 pitches.
Some say the unassisted triple play, which ended the first game Pedro pitched against the Mets this year, sums up the Mets season. I disagree. That play involved a lot of bad luck, though it represent more dubious strategy on the part of the Met brain trust to have both runners going.
But Murphy bolting for third when the ball rolled a few feet away from Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz - that's just dumb. Murphy is already in scoring position. The ball did not go that far. And Murphy is not a good runner.
It's plays like this that sum up the season. Jerry Manuel did not have much to say about the play after the game, saying that Murphy knows what he did. Maybe Manuel did not have a lot to say because it was less Murphy's mistake and more this team's consistent strategy to try to take the extra base, no matter how hopeless.
Either the strategy is bad or the Mets have a lot of fundamentally unsound players, which ultimately gets back to management.
Bobby Ojeda said after the game that he thought the Mets have lost eight to ten games this year on such blunders. That's an astonishing and unacceptable number.
As for Pedro Martinez, I am still a Pedro fan, but I can still see why the Mets were reluctant to sink any more money in him after only getting 1 1/2 good years out of a four-year, $52 million contract.
But Pedro is doing so well that his Philly stats now rival those of Cliff Lee:
Pedro with Philly: 5-0, 2.87 ERA, 1.00 WHIP
Lee with Philly: 6-2, 3.11 ERA, 1.07 WHIP
Meanwhile, Met starts Tim Redding, Bobby Parnell, Nelson Figueroa and Pat Misch are a combined 8-21. Redding did pitch well Sunday night, dropping his ERA to 5.52.
At least the Mets can still participate in other teams' meaningful games in September.