Eighty-nine wins clinched the division for the Phils in 2007, but cleared the calendar for the Mets to book October tee times in 2008.
Yesterday at Shea, the Mets season ended appropriately, with the jerry-rigged bullpen letting up the game-winning runs in another last-day, season-ending loss to the Marlins, while in Milwaukee, mid-season pickup C.C. Sabathia proved to be the missing piece for the playoff-bound Brewers.
In fairness, it seems the 89-win Mets haven’t been extended nearly the same Big Apple courtesy as the 89-win Yankees for battling through injuries. At times, you would look at the Mets’ lineup, with guys like Marlon Anderson starting in left and retreads like Nelson Figueroa on the hill, and wonder how they were hanging in at all. Guys like Fernando Tatis could easily be playing for the unaffiliated Long Island Ducks.
Nevertheless, relying on broken-down veterans like Pedro Martinez and others to turn back the hands of time was a risky proposition from the start. Although the Mets held a 3 ½ game division lead as late as Sept. 10, they were relying on Carlos Delgado to stay unconscious and the bullpen to produce using smoke and mirrors.
While the Phils and Mets can boast a comparable nucleus of home-grown talent, they separate in terms of supporting cast. In the end, the better team got hot at the right time, while the flaws of the weaker team were exposed. There was no collapse. The better team won.