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Mission Accomplished but Another Awaits

As Greg over at Faith and Fear noted on Monday, the Mets were at the point at which they had met one of my silly preseason goals. They were assured of finishing 2007 with a worse record than they had in 2006.

Y'all may remember my preseason slogan- "Ya Gotta Get Worse!" in which I illustrated how the Cardinals took the biggest tumble among teams from 2005 to 2006, yet still won the World Series and how I felt if the Mets took a small step back, they'd be able to take a small step forward in October.

Looking back on it today, I can tell you this. That mantra sucks. This is no fun.

But I'm not ready to start an essay on Mets Choke-Offs and Other Minutiae just yet. Instead, let's for a moment harken back and remember the way of the 2005 Indians.

The AL Central wasn't really a race that season, not until the very end. On August 17, the Indians got shut out by the Rangers and were 11 games out of first place. The White Sox were the team to beat, having played great baseball from wire to wire and showed no signs of slippage. The 2007 Mets aren't really comparable to that team, but indulge me for a moment on this.

From August 18 through September 24, the Indians were insanely good. They went 28-7 and the White Sox played ordinary, win a few, lose a few baseball. Their lead slipped to 1 1/2 games and my understanding is that Chicago was in full panic mode.

On September 25, the Indians went for the sweep of the 53-102 Royals and had a 3-0 lead after one inning, with quasi-ace Jake Westbrook pitching. It was 3-0 until the sixth when the Royals managed three runs to tie, then went ahead in the 7th inning on a Westbrook wild pitch.

Undaunted and fully believing that this was meant to be for them, the Indians staged a 9th inning rally against Royals closer Mike Macdougal. They tied the game on an RBI groundout by Casey Blake and threatened to take the lead before Macdougal struck out Coco Crisp to end the threat.

The last of the 9th was one of those karma-changing innings that we've come to hope will happen for the Phillies. Angel Berroa singled to start the inning and old friend Joe McEwing successfully sacrificed him to second base. The next hitter was a third-string catcher, Paul Phillips and he lofted a harmless fly ball to centerfield.

The harsh Sunday sun played a role along with the baseball gods. Indians centerfielder Grady Sizemore totally lost the path of the ball, and when it trickled off his glove for a double, Berroa came home with the winning run.

Still, even walking off the field, Sizemore had this grin on his face. He figured that the good charms from the last several weeks would remain in their usual place. But these fickle masters don't do that. Once they sense the karmic change, they disappear and normalcy is restored. The White Sox won that day, boosting their lead to 2 1/2 games and resumed kicking ass into deep October. The Indians won once more the rest of the season and didn't make the playoffs.

The last two days I thought we might have one of these kinds of moments with the Phillies and Cardinals, with the way those games have gone, but it has not yet come to be. Is it too much to ask for something like this to happen soon. Maybe tonight?

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