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Last Met Standing?

Shortly after the Mets wrapped up their third straight win [1] over the Marlins Wednesday night, I had an odd vision: Alejandro De Aza [2] hits the home run that proves to be the difference in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series. He’s mobbed by 24 Mets, all of them emergency call-ups from the minors. Shortly after accepting the award as World Series MVP, De Aza steps on a land mine.

Hey, it’s not much odder than what’s currently happening in Met Land, where the team seems to win a big game every night and announce the loss of another player who’s key to the team’s hopes. After Wednesday night’s game Terry Collins [3] pulled another of his press-conference bombshells, adding in an oh-by-the-way tone that Neil Walker [4] would be available the next day to explain his decision to have season-ending surgery for a herniated disc.

So if you’re keeping track at home, the lone survivor of the Mets’ Opening Day infield is Asdrubal Cabrera [5], currently playing on one leg. Travis d’Arnaud [6] is still behind the plate, though he missed a good chunk of the year and that faint crack I just heard down here in Jersey was probably related to an important TdA body part. In the outfield the original cast is down to some percentage of Yoenis Cespedes [7]; the hale but not always reliably hearty Curtis Granderson [8]; and De Aza, whose dizzying year has seen him gone from expected full-time outfielder to guy without a position to fans’ whipping boy to anointed savior to who knows what. Your guys missing until 2017: David Wright [9], Lucas Duda [10], Walker, Juan Lagares [11], Matt Harvey [12] and Zack Wheeler [13], Oh, and Justin Ruggiano [14] and Jonathon Niese, guys who weren’t part of the plan until they suddenly were, only now they’re history too.

And yet the Mets are still hanging around, making it impossible to rule out an October return. They’ve now passed not only the Marlins but also the Pirates in the hunt for that second wild card, and stand just 1.5 games behind the Cardinals. On Wednesday night, they did it behind the arm of wily, portly Bartolo Colon [15], the bat of Wilmer Flores [16] (off a right-hander, no less, even though Wilmer’s not supposed to hit them yet at this early stage of his evolution into a Proven Veteran™ who gets to play against everybody) and the bat of Kelly Johnson [17].

It was Johnson — a castoff turned callback — whose two-out, bases-loaded double brought home three runs and turned a 2-2 tie into a chance for Jeurys Familia [18] to set a new Mets single-season saves mark, pushing Armando Benitez [19] out of the record books without the added effort needed to push him out of our hearts, since he never resided there in the first place. Johnson worked A.J. Ramos [20] to a 3-2 count, got a slider that didn’t slide and rifled it down the right-field line.

Wednesday was Johnson’s night; Tuesday was a group effort led by late-to-the-party Granderson; Monday belonged to Cespedes. It’s good that there’s a different hero every night, because there’s no guarantee that tonight’s valedictorian will be able to limp into tomorrow’s classroom.

And yet here we are. The Mets may be a bizarre agglomeration that’s added the likes of Johnson, James Loney [21], Jose Reyes [22], Jay Bruce [23] and now Fernando Salas [24] in addition to a decent-sized chunk of Las Vegas’s starting rotation, but they’re facing a September schedule that’s two-thirds tomato cans.

Those moved to overconfidence by a slate filled with Reds, Braves, Twins and Phillies should, of course, remember the Mets making the Diamondbacks and Padres look like world-beaters. But those were the Mets before the latest bolt-on aftermarket part, the most recent frantic software patch, yesterday’s roll of duct tape and snarl of baling wire and blob of spit. Pick your metaphor, but ditch your crystal ball — they’ve been useless all year with this bunch.

September’s here; all we can do is hold on and see where the ride takes us. And, OK, hope it doesn’t break down and collapse before we get somewhere good.