A loss to the Phillies in September. The knowledge that they're hot on our heels and just got a little closer. Bah. I'm not scared.
These are not the 2007 Mets, Willie Randolph's Mets, the Mets who admitted that sometimes they got bored out there. Nobody gets bored on Jerry Manuel's watch. To be sure, this difference is no guarantee of a postseason spot, or anything at all … well, actually that's not quite true. It's as close as you're going to get to a guarantee that these Mets will go down biting and clawing, if defeat is to be their destiny. (And it might not be. You never know.)
Friday night's showdown was a tense, sweaty mess — in October's cooler weather it might have been described as taut and gripping, but a blanket of sticky summer heat made it more leaden and aggravating, with the weather compounding the frustration for the Mets and all of us as inning after inning slipped by with Brett Myers still out there untouched.
Yet this game was deathly close. Yes, Myers was absolutely terrific, but Mike Pelfrey was awfully good too. Take out uncharacteristically sterling defense by Ryan Howard, a shoddy play by Jose Reyes on Shane Victorino's first-inning stolen base, and raise Ryan Church's glove half an inch and this one could have been 0-0 after nine. And even that 3-0 lead was built on sand: Brad Lidge spent the entire ninth on the edge of disaster, recording his outs on rockets by Daniel Murphy (with an at-bat that was superb even by his precocious standards) and Ryan Church, sandwiched around a Beltran blooper that almost eluded Eric Bruntlett.
It wasn't to be, of course: Myers was better and the Phillies got all the breaks, which is perfectly fair even if it wasn't much fun. But it wasn't the kind of loss to leave us shaking in our shoes. They drew first blood, which isn't ideal. But we'll get our chance, when the weather allows, and you get the feeling things will be different. And both the standings and our Met-fan souls should be a reminder that we'd rather be us than them.