The Mets aren't collapsing. They are deflating. There's a difference. Time remains to pump them back up. But if they don't get the air back into the balloon, there's no shame attached. I did not dream amid the mess of April, May and June that the Mets would be clinging to the remnants of a division lead in mid-September. For the better part of July and August, even, I kind of waited for the inevitable sag. Maybe this isn't it. Maybe it is.
I'll accept the raised if potentially false hopes of summer as fleeting if indeed they do not translate further. And I'll take an explicable September crumple — no fifth starter per se, a fourth starter in name only, the wrong second baseman unavailable, temp closers nursing their groins — and not look upon it an overly harsh manner.
We know what last September was. This, however it turns out, isn't that. This barely had a chance of being where it is. This was wing and a prayer territory and look how far both got us. It got us a half-game ahead of (and fuck you Mike Schmidt, I'm not talkin' to you) a deeper, more talented and healthier rival. The Phillies ain't perfect but they do have Brad Lidge and they do have Brett Myers and they do have Ryan Howard and all of them are on fire. True, we have Johan Santana and we have three stellar hitters with a hundred RBI apiece and we've got heart, but we've also got deficiencies and then we've got nights where we forget to pack the bats for the road trip.
I could be wrong. I could be very wrong. I could be thrillingly wrong. I can't wait to be wrong. But I swear when I saw Elijah Dukes' home run flying toward the left field stands at Nationals Park, I decided we aren't winning this thing. Sanchez delivered. Dukes swung. And there I was…wavin' Two Thousand Eight goodbye. You can only write off an unreliable pen for so long before you have to put it in the books as possibly not meant to be.
We are, on the other hand, still in first. We do, on the other hand, still have 13 games to go. The Phillies, Lidge and Myers and Howard notwithstanding, ain't Superman and they ain't God. And no matter how you phrase it, this ain't an encore of you know what. That's not the way this one goes down.
I shall not permit it.