Say this much for the Mets: when the most fevered dreams of their most diehard fans are snuffed out, they end in the most excruciating way possible.
The Mets could have just lollygagged their way to a loss against the Braves on Sunday, fallen nine games out of the Wild Card and made the rest of the year something to watch on nights when there wasn't something more appealing on television. No one really expected them to make a really serious run at the playoffs, so it wouldn't have hurt too much if they went away quietly.
That could have happened but it went in a different direction. We probably should have expected that the Mets season would end with as much pain as fans -- and players -- could possibly endure.
Jose Reyes and Daniel Murphy both left Sunday's loss to the Braves with injuries, leaving the team with a makeshift infield -- David Wright, shortstop! -- and little offensive punch. Of course, that didn't mean they got blown out.
No, that would have been expected and the 2011 Mets have specialized in the unexpected. They rallied to tie the game at 5 despite having a lineup that some Double-A teams would see as easy pickings before Bobby Parnell gave up a run in the top of the ninth and handed the Braves a 6-5 win.
We won't see Murphy again this season. He has a torn MCL in his left knee and won't be seen again until 2012.
That's a shame because Murphy has proven this year he's capable of doing a number against big league pitching. He still doesn't have a position, though, and could really have used these last two months as time to try and improve his glovework enough to nail down a regular spot in the lineup for years to come.
The news is a bit better on Reyes. The team says he has a mild hamstring pull, which sounds pretty good until you remember he just missed three weeks with a mild hamstring pull.
Another injury to Reyes' legs will obviously lead to discussion about its impact on the contract he'll receive as a free agent after the season. Maybe it plays into the Mets' favor, but only so far as you think laying out big money on a player with injury issues wouldn't wind up blowing up in their faces.
That's not a knock on Reyes, it's just that Sunday served as a vivid reminder of the way that bad news has hovered over the Mets in recent years. You spend so much time taking shots to the gut, you start to expect them and there'd be none bigger than an injured Reyes early in a long-term deal.
Mathematically the Mets are still alive, but those of us who specialize in other academic disciplines know that means nothing. The Mets will keep playing hard and keep being as likable as any team that will finish way back of the pack in the National League, but it would be foolish to forget how days like Sunday also represent the current state of the Mets.