By Jason Keidel
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It was a perfect microcosm.
Of the men and the Mets.
Matt Harvey was three outs from perhaps the best World Series pitching performance in Mets history, only to be pulled from a game he deserved to finish, only to be replaced by someone whom had already proved he wasn’t up to the task, only to lose to a team that the Mets could have easily beaten in five, much less lost to in five.
That’s not to detract from the Royals, who were incredibly pesky and poisonous and intrepid all season. They belong here, rose the rungs and earned the rings, and make fine champions.
But aside from Game 2, you never felt you were stomped by a superior club. The Mets just fell apart. All the things they did so sublimely turned horrifyingly bad. Daniel Murphy went from G.O.A.T to goat. Yoenis Cespedes went from Superman to a sideshow, a clueless, golf-playing goofball. Jeurys Familia went from Mariano Rivera to Armando Benitez. Terry Collins went from Gil Hodges to Grady Little.
There’s no solace in second place. Not now. When you beat the Dodgers, and the best one-two pitching combo in the sport, you were flush with house money, doubtful you’d double-down on Chicago, and the hottest pitcher on the planet. Once you vanquished the Cubs, it became a dream ride into eternity.
Until that ninth inning in Game 1, when the cosmos suddenly stopped carrying you. And that heart-shredding homer became an omen. The Mets lost this series as much as the Royals won it. Again, kudos to KC, which had the fortitude and foresight to pounce on almost every Mets mistake. The world title doesn’t come with caveats. The Royals are real.
But kudos to the Mets, too. If you’d told anyone alive and lucid in June — when you had hitters named Plawecki and Herrera and Ceciliani — that this team would swing and hurl its way into November, you’d have asked for a Breathalyzer.
Once you get to the Fall Classic, with the hottest hitter and pitching on the planet, you want to win, expect to win, conjure daydreams of that elusive parade up the “Canyon of Heroes.” It would have been a moment for you and your parents and their parents, your kids and their kids, a memory passed like a baton down the generations.
Until that dream bubble burst in a haze of errors and strikeouts and blown saves. Maybe it was the layoff. Maybe it was something stronger. If there are baseball gods, they surely became surly to the Mets, waved their wands in the other direction. Maybe it just wasn’t your time.
Maybe there’s no joy in Mudville. But there should be pride in Flushing, the five boroughs, and beyond. You can’t frame in 140 characters, or 140 pages, what the Mets have meant to New York City over the last month … or two … or three.
One more time…
Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel