Oct. 1, 2007. With the New York Mets squandering a seven game division lead with only 17 games to play, the Mets would find themselves needing a win on the final game of the season in order to make the playoffs.
It would be a home game against the lowly Florida Marlins. The matchup favored the Mets greatly: the game was at Shea Stadium, the Marlins were in last place, and the Mets had an all-time great pitcher on the mound in Tom Glavine.
It seemed a foregone conclusion that the Mets would make the post-season.
It wasn't meant to be, however, as the Marlins knocked Glavine out of the game after only one-third of an inning, roughing him up for seven runs. The Marlins would score once more, winning the game 8-1, and consequently ending the Mets season.
Sept. 28, 2008. The final game at Shea Stadium would find the Mets in the same situation as a year earlier.
The Mets squandered another late September division lead, and were now needing a win on the final game of the season, again against the Florida Marlins.
The Marlins were in third place, a much improved and more confident team than in 2007. It has even been said that prior to the final game of the 2008 season, Hanley Ramirez predicted that there would be no October baseball in New York.
After a brilliant three-hit shutout the previous game by Johan Santana, the Mets would fail to capitalize on that momentum and ultimately lose the final game in the house that Seaver built by a score of 4-2.
This season has been just as disappointing for Mets fans, except for the fact that they didn't have to wait for the final game of the season to have their hearts broken.
In fact, one could argue that since losing game seven of the 2006 NLCS, the Mets have been the most disappointing team in baseball, having not lived up to expectations for the last three seasons.
It is becoming harder and harder to look for bright spots in what's left of this disappointing season. The Mets big four of Beltran, Reyes, Delgado, and Wright are all out due to injury, and may be hard-pressed to come back at all this season.
Gary Sheffield is beginning to become a problem, and Billy Wagner, after one inning pitched for the Mets this season, will probably be dealt to the Red Sox, who claimed him off waivers on Friday.
It may seem cliche, but the only bright spot for fans—other than watching Jeff Francoeur—is to play spoiler for teams in the playoff hunt.
But there is one team in particular the Mets can not only play spoiler to in the final month or so of the season, but also extract a little revenge against. No, it's not the Phillies: that team is the Florida Marlins.
The Marlins started the season on fire, then hit a losing streak before finally leveling off, spending most of the first half bouncing between third and fourth place in the NL East.
In the second half, however, the Marlins have been one of the hottest teams in the National League.
They currently sit in second place in the division and third in the wild card race, only five-and-a-half and three games out respectively. They are also fresh off of a series sweep of the division-leading Philadelphia Phillies.
From now until the end of the regular season, the Mets will play nine games against the Marlins, six of which will be in Florida (8/25-8/27 in FL, 9/8-9/10 in NY, and 9/25-9/27 in FL).
While it may be a long shot, especially with the Mets fielding a team of mostly reserves, beating the Marlins to the tune of six wins and three loses in those nine games would go a long way in giving the fans something to root for this season, as well as serving as a little payback for the past two collapses.
If the Marlins have a chance to make the playoffs by the time the Sept. 25 series in Florida rolls around, the Mets could really make a statement by winning the series and either knocking Florida out of contention completely, or at the very least making their playoff hunt all the more difficult.
Not only would it be great for the fans who have had to watch the Marlins end the Mets' season the past two years, it could also end the season on a high note, and maybe even finally move the team out from the huge shadow cast from two monumental late-season collapses.
Maybe there still are meaningful games in this dismal Mets season. In fact, there are nine of them.