If you went to bed at 10 and looked at the box score in the morning, maybe you thought, “Eh, ho-hum loss. Mets didn't convert hits, Padres got to Sosa early, Heilman stank.”
But it's not so. Or, rather, it's not the whole story.
Sosa was fine and the Mets fell apart late, but you could see the collapse coming. They were like a car that left a trail of little, seemingly inconsequential parts — washers and bolts and what-not — on the side streets before dropping a transmission in the middle of the freeway.
As Gary and Ron ably chronicled on SNY, even when the game was close, the Mets kept doing dopey things — dopey things that won't show up in the box score. Like Wright being too aggressive in the sixth and getting instantly erased by a lefty hurler's pickoff move. (Though charging for second without bothering with the rundown was a good try.) Like — and this was the one that really stuck in my craw — Shawn Green working the count to 3-1 against an obviously overamped Heath Bell, then grounding out on a shoulder-high outside pitch. Like Reyes inexplicably watching a 3-1 cookie go down the pipe and turn into a caught stealing for Gotay. Like Feliciano rushing a throw to third on a catcher. The same stupid shit we've seen over and over and over again since Memorial Day, in other words.
The best thing for this team would be two weeks in Port St. Lucie running the kind of drills teams run in February. Failing that, what? I guess we could hope that the Braves and Phillies play .400 ball for the rest of the season. (And even that might not win us the division.) We could convince ourselves that Moises Alou has been rehabbing in a time machine. Or we could keep telling ourselves that a 35-year-old starting pitcher with surgically repaired parts will fix everything just by showing up.
The longer we keep talking about June and July and ruts and funks, the more we have to admit another possibility: Maybe April and May were the outliers. Maybe this team just isn't that good.