One Last Dashing of Hope in the Mets Season

Late loss to Marlins obscures positive developments

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Over the fence went the ball and the last flickers of hope for the Mets season.

    When David Wright hit a home run in the top of the seventh inning in Florida on Monday, you could feel the old yearnings pulling you back in.

    You could see the way Wright's return sparked the team this weekend, his six hits and six RBIs providing the offense with a jolt that made it seem downright acceptable for the business of contending in the National League. You heard the reports of Johan Santana getting close to a rehab start and could close your eyes and imagine him on a Citi Field mound in August pitching in a game that mattered.

    The Mets were winning in the seventh despite getting a mediocre start from Dillon Gee that could have been worse if not for his ability to dance around the danger he created for himself. They were winning even though the defense was sloppy at every turn and seemed hellbent on making the team a loser in the final reckoning.

    Trade rumors about Carlos Beltran were flying fast and furious, but you could look out at the field on Sunday afternoon after Wright's homer and convince yourself that there was another option available to a team that could make it this far without the season completely coming apart on them. Teams of destiny overcome the improbable to make things happen and perhaps these Mets were just such a team.

    And then the eighth inning happened and reality became inescapable.

    Bobby Parnell, attempting to make the transition from ordinary reliever to late inning shutdown guy, gave up a home run to Logan Morrison followed by a single and a double to give back the lead and, ultimately, the game to the Marlins. The 5-4 loss was the second straight for the Mets, dropping them one game below .500 and leaving them 8.5 games out of the Wild Card.

    That means they've lost a game to the Braves over the last two weeks and it means that there's really no more sense in thinking about anything but turning the page on the 2011 season. There are still strides to be made and players to develop over the final 61 games, but the rose colored glasses should be put in storage.

    The only question now is where Beltran lands and when he gets his walking papers. There are all kinds of reports on this front, many of them contradictory -- Beltran wants to stay in the NL, Beltran is willing to play for Boston or Texas as long as he isn't a DH -- but all of them certain of his departure.

    Buzz has the move coming sooner rather than later so that the Mets can avoid the possibility that teams make other moves. It's hard to argue that the impending deal has been a distraction as this Mets loss didn't look much different than plenty of other ones this season, but it won't be a bad thing for the team or the fans to get this done with as soon as possible.

    After all, once Beltran leaves the upset level of watching the team blow one in the eighth will go from extreme to mild because the larger battle has already been conceded. For a moment on Sunday it felt like it was still alive and that wound up making it hurt all the worse.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.