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Toss It On the Pile With the Rest of Them

World War II ended in 1945, yet there were handfuls of particularly stubborn Japanese soldiers in far-flung outposts who hadn’t gotten word or refused to believe what they were told about their nation’s surrender. One, Hiroo Onoda [1], was found to still be fighting a war that was no longer in progress as late as 1974.

And if you’re waiting for a Met collapse, there might be a jungle in the Philippines with your name on it.

The eight-year battle against inevitable humiliation is about to be settled in earnest, comrades. Come in from the isthmus and grab a remote control so you can watch the glorious conclusion for yourselves. The post-September 30, 2007, world we’ve inhabited far too long is rapidly giving way to a brighter day.

Technically, the Mets haven’t won anything in 2015 besides 82 games (for the first time since 2008) and a commanding advantage over whoever our archrival was supposed to be six weeks ago. But we know for sure the Mets haven’t lost a damn thing in seven games, no matter how hard they seemed to try not claim the seventh.

For those of you who believe a practically prohibitive divisional lead serves as no more than a Trojan horse brimming with bad news poised to leap out and stab us in the proverbial heart, Sunday appeared to be your Day of Karmic Rebuttal. Bad enough that Washington actually won a game. The Mets were sloppily assembled — all kinds of regulars were simultaneously seated for the Turner Field finale — and they treated their time in the field as defense-optional. For the vast majority of the afternoon, it felt like one of the most ostentatiously mediocre games a Mets team above or below .500 had ever played.

The provisional result was a 7-4 deficit in the top of the ninth with nobody on and two out. Although one could have rationally argued everybody is entitled to an off day (let alone a day off), the experienced Mets-Case Scenarioist could have just as justifiably ranted that a team preoccupied with resting pitchers in September should make absolute certain there is an October to rest them for, therefore enough with the piggybacking starts chatter [2] and sitting significant starters during getaway games. The bit about “…a third of your games you’re gonna lose…” is tough enough to accept without presenting one of those allegedly predestined losses to ancestrally detested Atlanta on a veritable silver platter.

Turns out the Braves are allergic to silver and thus dropped the gift the Mets so generously attempted to give them (though like all episodes of clumsiness Sunday, it was officially scored a hit for Nick Markakis [3]). In baseball, you can’t fall on the ball and run out the clock, but on the first Sunday when baseball endured pigskin company, Fredi Gonzalez basically called Joe Pisarcik out of the Braves’ bullpen and ordered him to hand off to Larry Csonka.

It didn’t work for them. It sure as hell worked for us [4].

The details for those hiding in a tree and waiting for definitive orders from the emperor were as simple as they are beautiful: Gonzalez, having seen Peter Moylan [5] give up a double to Juan Lagares [6] (a double almost but not quite caught by Cameron Maybin [7], perhaps paying penance for having caught the final ball ever hit at Shea Stadium), replaced his veteran reliever with rookie Ryan Kelly [8]; Kelly walked Curtis Granderson [9]; Kelly then faced Daniel Murphy [10], who had spent the day otherwise disguised as a minus sign.

Murphy then launched a three-run homer to tie the game at 7-7.

It was exhilarating. It was breathtaking. It was, as Casey Stengel [11] surely described it from wherever he was observing the action, Amazin’ cubed.

Also, it was as close to business as usual as something forged from completely out of thin air could be for this team. This was, what, the fifteenth or sixteenth comeback like this in the past week? Maybe more, maybe less. Who can keep track anymore?

We’re past the point of counting them or ranking them. We simply ask that they keep arriving regularly at the correct address. We promise to send thank you notes in the offseason.

After the Mets scored the three runs in the tenth that would provide them a 10-7 triumph — their seventh consecutive victory overall, not to mention a four-game sweep at formerly intimidating Turner Field (cripes, I almost felt sorry for the Braves fans in attendance) — I saw a stat that identified Murphy’s shot as the third of its kind in Mets history. The only other home runs that made up a shortfall of three or more runs with the team down to its final out previously were those hit by Carl Everett [12] in September 1997 and Victor Diaz [13] in September 2004. Those were touchstone home runs of their era, each a cherished memory for me as a fan.

Murphy’s? Yeah, his improbable game-tying dinger was swell, too. Just toss it on the pile with Nieuwenhuis’s from the other night. And Johnson’s. And all of those from Cespedes. It’s September 2015. We’re growing harder to impress.

OK, I’m not that jaded yet, but as Roger Angell put it regarding the deciding contest of the 1986 World Series, “It was another great game, I suppose, but even noble vintages can become a surfeit after enough bottles have been sampled.” We still anxiously await the bottling, corking and ultimate uncorking of 2015 — it’s been a very good year — yet the mind-boggling comebacks are beginning to blur.

Never, however, has my mind been so willing to expand to accommodate them all.

I was certainly happy with the outcome. I imagine every Mets fan worth his or her blue and orange was similarly delighted. Yet I also imagine that somewhere somebody — maybe even a reader of this humble blog — had a sharp-tongued comment all cued up and ready to post. Now, we’d see, that the Mets were just setting us up. Now, we’d see, disaster was about to unspool. Now, we’d see, the worst was yet to come.

Then the Mets had to go and spoil it all by doing something sublime like reshaping destiny to fit their own giddy purposes. Alas, for the naysayer out there, there was no nay to say on Sunday. Instead we high-fived across the virtual universe and subtly saluted the likes of Wayne Garrett [14], Lenny Randle [15], Frank Taveras [16] and Tim Teufel [17], some of our most distinguished wearers of 11, for what that number’s worth.

The Mets continue to lead the National League East by 9½ games, except now with only 19 to play. Nobody can vouch for what might transpire in the playoffs, but nobody in his right mind would suggest the Mets won’t be a part of them.

If your mind tells you otherwise, grab a sweater. A lonely jungle might get chilly at night.