In Metsmoriam: Mourning the Death of Youth, Hope, Love, Joy, Beauty, and All Other Abstract Nouns

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Carlos Beltran strikes out with bases loaded; the Cardinals head to the World Series.Photo: Getty Images

The saddest thing about the Mets’ loss in Game 7 last night — sadder than wasting maybe the greatest catch in the history of catching, sadder than the franchise player striking out with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth to end the season — is not that the team has been knocked out of the playoffs, but that it’s been knocked out of existence. This is not to say that they’ll look much different next year — the core of the team (Beltran, Reyes, Wright) has been locked in with monster contracts — but the vibe is gone forever.

These Mets have officially passed from innocence to experience. The municipal joyride is over. The blank slate has been scribbled on. The budding superstars are now just plain old superstars. Reyes has been crowned the most exciting player in the game, which automatically makes him slightly less exciting. The once-infallible Wright has picked up a reputation for big-game failure that could, if he’s not careful (or if he’s too careful), end up defining his career. And Beltran is no longer the most charmed clutchmonster in human history; he’s just a very good outfielder.

These Mets can never overachieve again. They’ve entered the life cycle of success: Next year they’ll improve from good to great; they’ll get either bitter (if they lose) or smug (if they win); and in a few years, they’ll degenerate back to good, then mediocre, then bad, then terrible. This was the official first step of their slide from spontaneous youthful magic to bloated Yankee decrepitude. The miracle window has closed until at least 2025.

Sam Anderson