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It Could Be Worse Somehow

Here’s some good news: the Mets didn’t lose Michael Conforto [1] in the middle of a playoff hunt. Man, that would hurt. Hurt like Conforto’s left shoulder appeared to when he dislocated it after swinging and missing [2] against Arizona starter Robbie Ray in the fifth inning at Citi Field on Thursday. Conforto went down on the ground in agony. The Mets were in the process of going down to the Diamondbacks [3] for the sixth time in seven games this year, though that took an emotional back seat to losing our only 2017 All-Star, one of our building blocks for 2018 and beyond.

Because these Mets never entered the playoff hunt, the loss of Conforto hurts only on a few levels, none of them intensely competitive. Hurts because he’s Conforto, mostly. Because he’s a Met, naturally. And because he’s a human being. By the by, Ray is a human being who was hit in the head by a batted ball in July, yet he returned to tame the eminently tamable Mets just weeks later. It’s a result we can’t applaud too heartily out of brand loyalty, but we should feel good about the essentials. Ray’s success at our expense is a reminder that talented players can overcome episodes that look painful to us and feel painful to them. Different injuries, but at least one positive resolution is in the books.

Every Met, with a couple of exceptions, has been injured at some point this season [4], so reflexively our empathy for Conforto was shared with our sorrow for ourselves. “We can’t have nice things” is the trite phrase I read repeatedly after Michael left the game. Cripes, we can have nice things. We just need more of them and better methods for protecting them from calamity, though I’m not sure how you preemptively guard against a dislocated shoulder to your best hitter. Conforto had been to bat nearly a thousand times in the majors since 2015 and hadn’t dislocated his left shoulder once while wearing a Mets uniform. Sometimes weird stuff happens.

Ofttimes weird stuff happens to the Mets, admittedly. But we already knew that.

UPDATE: An MRI revealed a tear in the posterior capsule in Conforto’s left shoulder [5], an issue to add to the dislocation. So, yes, it can always be worse.