On September 18th, 2008 — exactly one year ago — the Mets had a record of 85-67, and were a half-game behind the league-leading Phillies (86-67).
What a difference a year makes.
The Mets were also at the top of the Wild Card standings, a game and a half ahead of the Brewers and a full five over the Astros.
Despite being armed with deadline pickup C.C. Sabathia, the Brewers were in a tailspin and fading fast. Things were so desperate in Milwaukee that they fired manager Ned Yost two days earlier, with only a dozen games left in the season, as a last-ditch effort to spark the team. The move shocked the baseball world, and despite some issues with the bullpen, things were looking good for the Mets.
In fact, the very next day — September 19th, 2008 — the Mets and Phillies flip-flopped in the standings, with the Mets in the lead of the NL East once again. The Mets in first place, the Brewers were dead, and eleven games to play. You could taste the Champagne.
Ah … but for the second straight year, that cork would not be popped. We had no idea.
So what’s worse? Being over 20 games out of first place right now, with the postseason an impossibility and next year looking similarly dismal? Or sitting on a rollercoaster that’s about to go off the tracks?
(Interesting coincidence … today, the Mets play the Nationals. Last year on this day, they played the Nationals. 40 years ago today, they played the Expos – as the Nats used to be called. Do the Mets always play the Nats/Expos on September 18th?)