The Mets’ Closing Day Preemption Tour touched down in Philadelphia on Sunday. One week after the final regular-season home game didn’t feel particularly final , the last date on the previously published schedule gave way to one more afternoon that didn’t jibe with the customary rhythms of the baseball calendar. Game 162 is supposed to be the end of all that is right and good in our lives, unless things went overwhelmingly well in the previous 161 games, in which case, rightness and goodness live another day.
So they do, literally, one more day. That day is Wednesday, 8:08 PM at Citi Field, ESPN on your device of choice. It’s us and the Giants, for all the marble…singular. Only one is manufactured in each league, redeemable at the MLB postseason popup shop following conclusion of the extra-bucks contrivance otherwise known as the Wild Card Game. Here’s hoping our team grabs said marble and turns it into a voucher valid for admission into the series of five within the round of eight. All the marble will permit us to continue postponing our goodbyes until we’re damn well ready to express them.
Until then, here’s to the Ultimate Fate TBD Mets of 2016, who won three fewer regular-season games than their direct predecessors, tying the 2000 Mets for slightest franchise falloff from the playoff year just before it. No “Year After” Mets have ever outwon the postseason team that set their bar vexingly high. The 1970, 1974, 1987, 1989, 2001 and 2007 Mets each delivered at least nine fewer wins than, respectively, the 1969, 1973, 1986, 1988, 2000 and 2006 Mets. But by minimizing their stumbles following 1999 (97-66) and 2015 (90-72), the 2000 (94-68) and 2016 (87-75) Mets returned to the playoffs. Though in our hearts they never registered as quite as beautiful a creation, the 2000 Mets went further than the 1999 team. If the 2016 Mets can outpoint the 2015 gang — with whom they seem to have surprisingly little in common — then, boy, are we gonna be happy a month or so from now.
But one marble at a time.
This still-active team of ours got hot for a concentrated spell in April and then went on a lengthier jag that covered late August, all of September and the First of October. The spectacular 13-2 and 27-12 stretches were the Bachman and Turner of our season, providing the Overdrive necessary to take care of business. At the outer edges and in between, the Mets went 47-61. All the pieces added up optimally after 162, which was the only math that mattered.
Notify the MLB Network programming department that by qualifying to keep on keepin’ on, the 2016 season elevates itself into the Top 9 of all Met campaigns. Nine Mets teams have made the postseason, this one included. If you’re just going by records, ’16 wasn’t as sweet as a whole bunch of seasons that preceded it. In fact, it ties 1989 for 16th-best record in club history. The 87-75 Mets of 1989 were a mostly sour experience  to have lived through (despite the acquisition of a pitcher nicknamed Sweet Music ), as were several Mets teams with larger victory totals. It’s all about context and — let’s face it — expanded postseason eligibility. The 2016 Mets made the most of the former and took advantage of the latter. They’ve earned commemorative apparel, a champagne shower, a prime time slot on national television and, forever more, at least a mention in the chronological procession of pride that until Saturday began with 1969 and ended with 2015. How emphatic a mention we’ll find out soon enough.
Your 1985, 1987, 1990, 2008, 2007, 1998, 1997 and 1989 Mets had more or as many regular-season wins as 2016, but they don’t get to be in the same conversation. Sorry, fellas. Some of you were actually pretty sweet seasons, but your Closing Days wound up as definitive.
Not 2016’s, as perfunctory a 162nd game as the Mets have played and lost in ages. The Mets hadn’t ended a regular season on the road since 2012  and hadn’t finished up on the road on a Sunday — which works much better than midweek for Closing Day — since 2006  (when they also had bonus baseball in Flushing directly ahead of them). The last time the Mets put one of their seasons in the books in Philadelphia, they weren’t done writing it yet. That was August 11, 1994, the eve of the strike that wiped away 49 never-played games and a postseason in which the Mets weren’t on track to participate. Given the lack of familiar parameters, perhaps it’s not surprising that October 2, 2016’s 5-2 defeat at the hands of the Phillies  didn’t fire on many traditional emotional cylinders.
We almost certainly saw somebody perform as a Met for the last time yesterday, but unlike Ryan Howard  where we were tuning up for the Giants or Vin Scully  where the Giants were knocking out the Cardinals, we can’t yet identify who is leaving us for good. Reflection will have to be retroactive, which is a leading indicator that this regular season was put to splendid use.
The postseason’s applications can be extraordinary. Let’s run as many as we can.