The MLB calendar says the playoffs don't start until next week. Except that for the Mets, for the second straight year, they've turned the final week of the season into must-win playoff scenarios.
There's a positive to this, I guess. If they make it in, they've earned it (unless Milwaukee continues to go backwards, allowing the Mets to back their way in). And they'll have played good baseball, so there's no downtime to re-adjust to meaningful games once the playoff games start. The Mets will end up going right from intense baseball to intense baseball, with no lag time in between.
The downsides, though, are more stark. The Mets - already strapped for pitchers - won't be able to set things up the way they want to...Especially considering that with Johan Santana going against Chicago tonight, he'll be pitching the season finale on Sunday with regular rest, with everything on the line. So he then wouldn't be available until the middle of the first round of the playoffs.
Another downside is the incredible pressure the Mets have put on themselves. To play this way with the Phillies breathing down your neck is understandable, I guess. It's a high-pressure situation. But to do it for the second year in a row ramps up that pressure a huge notch, and then to have to face the best team in the National League, followed by a team in the Marlins who would love nothing better to knock you out for the second year in a row....that's a little much.
Though I'm stressing these downsides, I'm not feeling sympathy for the Mets. They deserve what they get. They put themselves in this situation by playing terrible baseball for a month and a half early in the year, and not making the right moves to improve their situation in the bullpen all year long. So if they don't make the playoffs, I won't be surprised.
If they do make it though, it's a playoff spot well-earned. If they win the division, they did so because they won enough games to do it - not because Philadelphia choked (the Phillies have played too well until this point to consider anything from this point out a choke). If the Mets get the wild card spot, they'll probably have beaten the Cubs to get it, and then will have a chance against the Cubs in the first round of the playoffs.
For the Mets, the playoffs have begun. It's a six-game series from this point out. The Mets need to take five of six (five of seven before last night) to win the pre-first round.
(I thought what I was writing sounded awfully familiar.......)
Meanwhile, the Jets looked terrible last night against the Chargers on Monday Night Football. I honestly thought the Jets would take one of these two games (home against New England, at San Diego). Now that they've lost both (both games they could have won, with Cassel at QB and if their defense had stopped one play by San Diego last night), they need to go on a tear.
Arizona is looking like a tough draw this year. The Jets have them at home on Sunday - it's a short week for the Jets, but a long road trip for Arizona (they stayed on the East Coast after playing in Washington last week).
All I know is - if the Mets season comes down to Sunday, and the Mets and Jets both lay an egg like last year in the same situation - I don't know if I can handle that happening two years in a row.