Optimistic or not, the best chance for the Mets to be serious contenders or fade out of it is coming this weekend. Fans often aren’t competitors, and give up before it’s seriously over. They make judgement based on what they believe will happen, and based on what has happened already, or based on small samples or bad losses. That doesn’t mean it’s true, or that the Mets are eliminated, but right now the signs do seem bleak as the Mets have had dozens of opportunities to climb back into the race and haven’t.
So with the chances slim and the pessimists laughing at you for holding out hope while the Mets still have their own destiny in their hands, each loss becomes a nail in the coffin of this season, each opportunity to gain a game missed hurts all the more. The Mets aren’t competing for a wild card spot although they’re not eliminated either. The Mets are one losing streak from the season being all but over, but right now they’re a tease of maybes and what-ifs. The Mets could host Atlanta seven (or six or eight) losses back in the wild card race, and sweep the series to get to four losses out with 50 games left to play, which is certainly on the fringes of the race. They’ve played the Braves well this season so it wouldn’t be shocking to see that happen.
It’s too early, perhaps only days too early, but too early nonetheless to give up on the season. Still, many see the high probability of the Mets staying home in October and start thinking about the future. They opine about where Murphy should play in 2012, and if he should be getting more time at 2B or RF right now. They think about which players will be here, and which won’t. Who will be a free agent? Which teams should we root for in the playoffs? (that’s easy, the Carlos Beltran Giants)
All that discussion is certainly fair given how the Mets have looked lately. But they’ll go through a stretch where they look good again too. Maybe it comes at the right time and they play the Braves tough. Maybe it doesn’t and they’re all but eliminated on Sunday. There will be plenty of time for player development discussion when the rosters expand and in the offseason. It’s a long offseason. You may believe it’s better that the Mets get knocked out now to save us the heartbreak later, but the offseason is long enough as it is and I’ll cling to that small glimmer of hope as long as I can. Stranger things have happened than teams like the 2011 Mets suddenly making the playoffs.