Well, tomorrow the fun begins again. After the four-day All-Star festivities – congratulations, Michael Conforto! – the Mets will return to the grind of the rest of the season. First the trading deadline comes at the end of the month, then the dog days of August descend like an anvil in a Roadrunner/Wile E. Coyote cartoon, then it’s the stretch run to the playoffs. If you ask a Met fan right now, he or she would most likely say the team will be sitting out that last part. At the moment, the 39-47 New Yorkers sit twelve games out of the division lead and ten-and-a-half behind the second Wild Card team, the Colorado Rockies, who conveniently enough, come to Citi Field for three games starting tomorrow night. At best, you would call the Mets’ battle for relevance in the 2017 race “daunting.” At worst, you would say “pointless,” or “futile.” But this team has a habit of confounding even its closest observers, so – in best New York parlance – ya never know.
A little less than a month ago, the Mets made a mini-surge toward respectability, winning seven-of-eight from June 23 through July 1. In the midst of that, injured ace Noah Syndergaard took to Twitter and said, “We’re a second-half team.” Of course, right after that – you know, being the Mets and all — they dropped five of their last six before the break. It probably won’t get any easier. Over the last couple of years, late July/early August have been the low points of the season. Even in glorious 2015, the rock-bottom of the year came in a monsoon on July 30 when the Mets blew a 7-1 lead to the Padres and lost in the ninth, leaving them at 52-50. After the acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes, they famously rode a 38-22 finish to the NL Pennant. Last year, the team sat at 60-62 on August 19, before putting on a blistering 27-13 run to the first Wild Card. Even in a lost year, 2014, the Mets gave some hope for the future. In ’14, they never had a shot, falling well behind early in the race. At the break that year, they were 45-50, seven games behind the Nationals, eventually reaching as low as 60-70, 15 games out on August 23. From that point, they clicked and went 19-13 to scratch out an almost respectable season. Before that, though? Not so much. If you’re reading this, you know all about “seven-up-with-seventeen-to-play” in 2007 and its smaller doppelganger the following year. Oh, there were famous finishes in 1969 and 1973, to be sure, but like Mets’ pennant-winning seasons, they were few and far between.
So can the Mets put on a 2015/2016-style run and get to the post-season? Your intrepid columnist would call it doubtful. It would appear that the hole they’ve dug for themselves is far too deep to offer any hope of recovery – even if all the injured miraculously return. The fear is that this time, it may be too late. As noted, the rest of the summer will offer different – if far less satisfying – rewards.
At this point, we’ll take what we can get.
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