Sunday night's 6-4 win over the Braves was, in many ways, a microcosm of the 2011 Mets season.
There was ugly relief pitching to follow a surprisingly good start, there was an injury to a key player and there was absolutely nothing of use provided by Jason Bay, who finally got benched by Terry Collins.
But there was also Jose Reyes making things happen as only he can and there was a victory thanks to a lineup that overachieves at almost every turn.
Throw in a modest crowd and Francisco Rodriguez finishing a game that moved him closer to payday, and you've got yourself a fairly typical night at the old ballgame. It wouldn't have been any less typical if things had wound up going the other way and the Mets lost in the late innings -- they've had a lead in the seventh inning or later in their last six home losses -- but things worked out on Sunday night.
And, in a way, that's a problem. Winning is never something to cry about, but the longer the Mets do the dance of competency the longer it is before they can make any real decisions about how to build the team for the future.
Those signals aren't hard to find. The Mets went 5-5 on this homestand, but they could/should have been closer to 10-0 with anything resembling effective relief work.
Those swings, from pretty good to downright awful, are hard to take and harder to comprehend in the framework of what it means for the season over the long term. The hardest of all is ignoring the fact that the team keeps finding ways to win.
When you can do that without Ike Davis, Johan Santana and David Wright and with the gaping hole that is Bay, it is very tempting to stay the course so that you can see what happens when the team is firing on more cylinders. The danger is that you wait so long to see how it plays out that you blow your chance to make deals before watching the team go belly-up near the finish line anyway.
Or you can wait so long to do something that one of your assets loses its value. That had to be going through Sandy Alderson's mind as he watched Carlos Beltran writhing in pain after fouling a ball off his shin guard hard enough to crack the thing.
X-rays were negative -- aren't they always for the Mets -- but the feeling of what a serious Beltran injury would mean can't totally be ignored. Without his bat, it is impossible to see the Mets remaining above water which, when combined with not being able to trade Beltran, would truly be the worst-case scenario for this season.
After the last two-plus years, though, how can the Mets not take a shot at making the improbable run if it presents itself? It would be easier to sell if they were zipping along instead of treading water, but the law of nature says you don't stop doing the later and drown yourself for no good reason.
We're early in June so there's still time to figure things out. Until they do, the Mets will remain a confounding riddle that's as enjoyable as it is worrisome.