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Eleven Under

Thanks to Baseball Reference, everybody’s an ace researcher today, hence data points that previously only obsessives like me were aware of become instantly disseminated fact. On Sunday night, after the Mets lost to the Dodgers — and I should have a key on my computer that will type out “the Mets lost to the Dodgers [1]” via a single keystroke — it was widely reported that the Mets had fallen to eleven games below .500 for the first time since July 5, 2014.

In a warped way, I’d been waiting for this particular depressing shoe to drop, as I keep a list of the last junctures at which the Mets were exactly this or that many games above or below .500. The last couple of seasons had been about upward motion. As the Mets forged a winning record in 2015, they set new recent standards clear up to 22 Games Over .500 (last hit on September 27, 2015, at 89-67). This was exciting to track. Prior to 2015, the Mets hadn’t spent a day as many as 12 games over .500 since residing at Shea Stadium in 2008. 2015’s progress allowed me to delete and replace stubborn entries from 2012, 2010, 2008, even a couple from the semi-sainted year of 2006.

The 2016 season didn’t soar quite as high as 2015’s, but it made headway, providing most-recents up to 13 Games Over .500 (87-74 last October 1). I figured that once 2017 got going, it would steamroll 2016’s relatively small potatoes, take aim at 2015’s impressive margins and, should the Mets be on the roll almost universally predicted for them, make further inroads into the numbers still on the books from 2006, everything from exactly 23 Games Over .500 on August 16 to the ’06 peak of exactly 35 Games Over .500, last reached on September 13.

Ten games into 2017, the Mets climbed to 7-3, permitting the record to show the last time the Mets were 4 Games Over .500 was April 13. Child’s play for a contender like the ’17 Mets. Soon I’d be updating the listings for 5 Games Over .500 and 6 Games Over .500 and…well, you can do the math.

That is if you are up to date on subtraction. The Mets lost on April 14, meaning we had a new most recent 3 Games Over .500 at 7-4. Fine. We’ll just make up for it by winning the next game. No, actually, the Mets lost their next game, so we had a new most recent 2 Games Over .500 at 7-5. A couple more losses followed, but then a win let me type that the last time the Mets were 1 Game Over .500 was April 19, 2017 (8-7).

Enough screwing around, fellas. We have ground to make up here.

We did, except in the wrong direction. My file has been telling me for nearly the past four months that the last time the Mets were exactly 1 Game Over .500 was April 19, 2017 (8-7). It continues to tell me that. And that the last time they were At .500 was May 9, 2017 (16-16). And that that they haven’t been as few as three games under .500 since May 13 (16-19). Several times they’ve struggled to 4 Games Under .500, most recently on July 25 (47-51).

And since then, it’s been the wrong end of a thrill ride. On Saturday, the Mets matched their low-water mark for the season, replacing the 10 Games Under .500 record of 31-41 from June 22 (“achieved,” if you will, when the Mets lost to the Dodgers), with 49-59 on August 5.

Sitting directly beneath it, right where it had been lounging blissfully undisturbed for three years and a month, was 38-49, July 5, 2014. It wasn’t just a statistical notation to me. It was a reminder that you never can precisely tell when things are going to start getting better for your team. In the wake of July 5, 2014, I assumed the Mets would soon be exactly 12 Games Under .500 for the first time since September 25, 2013 (73-85) and then exactly 13 Games Under .500 for the first time since September 26, 2013 (73-86) and…well, you can do the math.

That was if you were up to date on addition. The Mets ignored my expectations and went in the preferred direction during the rest of 2014. It wasn’t a straight upward trajectory, but they revealed that they had reached a bottoming out, at least where that year was concerned. Their record for the final 75 games of ’14 was 41-34. Winning baseball. A hint, perhaps, of good things to come. We weren’t headed for 2013. We were headed for 2015 and all it would come to imply. We were on our way.

You couldn’t have known that on July 5, 2014, after the Mets lost to Texas, 5-3, at Citi Field, but we found out in a matter of days. The Mets started winning more than they lost, and we left all but the uppermost reaches of Under .500 in the dust until 2017. Now it’s all 2017 until you get to 12 Games Under .500, which I wouldn’t bet against becoming 2017’s too.

The unmourned Met campaign of 2013, sadly, is on notice. That season bottomed out at 17 Games Under .500 on September 14 (65-82; first game of a doubleheader). Everything from 18 Games Under .500 on September 13 (63-81, night half of a doubleheader) to 25 Games Under .500 on September 30 (67-92) is property of injury-riddled, karma-targeted 2009, and, based on how the Mets have looked since the middle of the San Diego series when they last touched 4 Games Under .500, almost any descent seems possible.

Beyond 2009, is 2003, from 26 Games Under .500 (63-89 on September 18) to 29 Games Under .500 (season-ending 66-95 on September 28). Then comes the dreaded year of 1993, a place that I, in every sense of the word, don’t want to go, and I doubt the 2017 Mets will visit. To brush up — or down — against as many as 30 games under .500, the Mets would have to be as ceaselessly dreadful against almost everybody as they were against the Dodgers. Thank heavens, they’re done playing the Dodgers for 2017.

Their next game is against Texas at Citi Field, just like it was when they plunged to 11 Games Under .500 on July 5, 2014. I was there that night. [2] I’ll be there tomorrow night. I’d say I’ll do what I can to stem the downward tide, but I don’t determine these outcomes. I just keep lists of them.