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Now The Fun Stops?

Vast stretches of the current season could have served nicely as an All-Star break. Four days? The Mets could’ve taken off almost any four weeks there for a while and not have been much missed. But now? Now that we’ve decided we love them again? Now that they’ve decided to express their affection for us by elegantly executing baseball like it oughta be?

Guys! Guys!

Don’t go! Stay!

And keep the Marlins here with you!

A lovely weekend sweep capped off a ten-game homestand that grew — to use a highly technical term not normally applied to this franchise’s actions — funner and funner as it went along. Sunday couldn’t have been much more fun, what with nine runs scoring and just one being allowed and the fourth-place Mets becoming the third-place Mets and a tangible sense materializing that this is no passing fancy, that this is…

Well, who the hell knows what it is? It might have been a matter of catching the historically bad Rangers, the due-to-go-flat Braves and the not-so-hot Marlins at consecutive fortuitous junctures, but the prosecution wishes to direct the court’s attention to Exhibit Cubs, a.k.a. the series we were swept at Wrigley in June at the hands of an allegedly inferior opponent. The Mets play lousy teams and listless teams throughout the season. They have a way of propping them up.

That didn’t happen on this homestand, did it? They beat their lessers from Texas, their betters from Atlanta and their peers from Miami. Boy did they beat Miami on Sunday. And Friday. And in between, they snatched Saturday away from them late and clutch. Good teams find an array of ways to win. Coincidentally, that’s what the Mets did against the Marlins.

Not that we’d ever want to mistake these guys for a good team. Start doing that and you let yourself in for grave disappointment. Or so it has seemed since [use any instance you like from this or the previous century]. Then again, with an All-Star break that looms as long as Jacob deGrom [1]’s tresses, permit yourself a flight of fancy if you like. Allow yourself to believe that the Mets won’t spend their upcoming trip to San Diego, Seattle and Milwaukee making you regret what you believed on the heels of that last 9-1 thumping of the Fish [2].

Go ahead. Believe, if you so choose. You don’t gotta. Not yet anyway. But maybe you can.

Sixty-seven games remain (interesting MLB math that reserves 41.4% of the schedule for the so-called second half). I don’t necessarily believe that the 45-50 Mets are going to storm the Bastille clear through to September 28; or double their win total per certain misguided preseason projections; or relentlessly ratchet up the passion factor from the Field Level to the Promenade the way they did over the past week. What I want to believe is that they won’t totally disintegrate on contact upon their West Coast swing and that they won’t limp deep into the heart of oblivion on their succeeding homestand.

Met postbreak records of recent vintage are not suitable for framing. So don’t produce another performance along those lines, OK? As you’re playing ’em one game at a time, maybe think to win more than you lose. That would be a sweet prize at the bottom of the “second-half” Cracker Jack box. Win no fewer than 34; lose no more than 33.

You do better than that, outstanding.

You do worse than that, then, god, Mets, I don’t even want to know you [3].

All the stuff about developing the young pitchers and d’Arnaud and Lagares still stands, but for the ongoing tease party to show signs of a truly happy ending, let’s get some over-.500 up in here. Not necessarily for the entire season. That would take 37-30. They haven’t cultivated that kind of faith in me, not after just these three series, invigorating as they were. No, I’ll take one more win than loss and call it victory.

Though it wouldn’t snap the sub-.500 string that extends back to 2009, 34-33 would indicate genuine accomplishment is legitimately in progress. It would be the step in the direction that we desire. It would echo resonantly the final two months of 1983, when a dismal start of 37-65 could be immediately consigned to the past because the 31-29 finish that followed foreshadowed the brighter future we so very badly craved. Thirty-one and twenty-nine to close out ’83 was when I knew in my heart the Mets were on the verge of escaping the mine shaft in which they’d been trapped since 1977.

History can’t be asked to repeat itself on demand, but after so much lousy baseball over so many lousy years, is it too much to ask of precedent, “yo, a little help here?”

That’s my Christmas In July wish. Not an extrapolation of the .875 winning percentage of the past eight games; not 1973 reincarnated; not 1984 2.0 on the fly; not every cylinder firing to unreasonably enhanced expectation. Simply win more than you lose over an extended period. And no losing 33 straight after winning 34 in a row. Keep us reasonably engaged to the end of the campaign. Don’t make September at Citi Field so lonely. Don’t leave each of us to assume we’re the only ones still watching. Hover above awfulness for the remainder of 2014.

Ya think ya could do that? Because if you could, it would be really great.

Also great: this extremely flattering shoutout [4] from a couple of extraordinary voices. Thanks to Jason Bornstein of Remembering Shea [5] for providing the audio.