Two weeks ago today, the Mets had a 2-game lead on the Phillies and were looking at a favorable two-week stretch of games against the Nationals and the Braves in front of them. Since Washington and Atlanta happen to be the two worst teams in the N.L. East, the Mets seemed to be in prime position to have a comfortable lead in the division coming into the final week of the season.
Instead, the Mets went 6-6 against mediocre competition and today find themselves 1.5 games behind the Phillies, who won 10 of 13 games against much tougher competition (the Marlins, Brewers and Braves). If Philadelphia holds on to win the division - and really, there's no reason to believe that they won't - it will be because they earned their crown. The Phillies have won big games when they needed to and have played well enough in September to end up with home-field advantage in their Division Series.
The Mets, on the other hand, do not deserve to make the playoffs. They are an incomplete team, one with fine starting pitching and an occasionally dangerous lineup that sometimes struggles with consistency. They also have a terrible bullpen, headed by a makeshift closer and six specialists of varying effectiveness. When the postseason party begins next week, the Mets have no right to be holding an invitation.
And yet, despite yakking 3.5 games in the standings in the last 14 days, the Mets are even closer to a playoff berth today than they were two weeks ago. That's because the Milwaukee Brewers have gone 3-10 during that stretch to drop 1.5 games behind New York in the Wild Card race.
I'll probably go more into it at Flushing University this week, but every year some undeserving team makes the playoffs because of the folly that is the Wild Card. If the Mets can simply be less incompetent than the Brewers over the next seven days, they will be that undeserving team this year.