I was traveling for a week and a half and did not get to see any Met games during that time. So, despite the way the season has turned out, I looked forward to finally watching a game in its entirety tonight.
I never root for the Mets to lose, but tonight's 9-3 shellacking by the Braves has its bright spots. Now everyone can finally concede that the Mets are out of contention. No more talk of, if the Mets sweep the Braves, then go on a run, and so forth. Boy am I glad I missed all the theoretical dream scenarios while I was away.
The worst thing about this wishful thinking is that it ultimately comes down to believing the Mets can stage a miracle run because the NL East's first place team collapsed in both 2007 and 2008. In other words, the Mets choked, so the other guys can as well.
Only there's nothing to suggest that the Braves will choke (putting aside blowing a 10-1 game last week). And even if the Braves did choke, the Phillies are right behind them. So both the Braves and the Phillies would have to choke, and the Mets would still have to go on a run.
Now that there will be no meaningful games in September, at least we can look forward to the future. The Mets could signal a new beginning by firing Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel now, or at least Manuel. Instead, we'll get to hear Manuel talk about how excited he is when Jenrry Mejia gets added to the rotation, when it was Manuel who wanted to keep him in the bullpen in the majors and delayed Mejia's progress.
At least Manuel gave Bobby Parnell a chance to close Friday night, but Manuel need to give him more than a couple of batters before yanking him. Manuel is so quick to change players' roles that it's no wonder everyone seems to be playing tight, afraid to make the mistake that sends you to the bench.
Seeing Billy Wagner set down the Mets in the ninth served as a reminder that not all Met free-agent signings were busts. In fact, if Wagner had not gotten hurt in 2008, the Mets might well have made the playoffs. They probably wouldn't have won a World Series with Wagner, who has a bad history in big games, but at least they would have gotten to play big games.
Here's how long a season it's been: The first game I went to at Citi Field this season was on April 23 against the Braves. John Maine started, Ike Davis hit his first major-league homer, Squawker Lisa cheered for Melky Cabrera, Hisanori Takahashi struck out seven in three innings to get the win, and the Mets swept the Braves in a three-game series. The Mets allowed only three runs in those three games, going on to win seven in a row. The Braves played poorly and did not look like a contender, much less a team that would hold a 11-game lead over the Mets before the end of August.
Maybe I should go on another trip.