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The Mets Do Their Best to Extinguish All Hope

We were all set this morning to hang on to our new optimism about the Mets, our cockamamie idea that a minuscule chance at the playoffs is just that: a chance! But we cannot kid ourselves. Last Tuesday, we postulated the Mets needed to go 37-14 to make the playoffs. Well, now they have to go 34-11. We didn't even last a week.

Last night, the Mets lost a dreary 3-1 game to the Phillies, and they're now back to one game under .500, and ten games behind the Braves in the AL East. (And eight games behind the Phillies and Giants for the wild card. They're only a half-game ahead of the Marlins — who would be ahead had the Reds not just swept them — and the playoff odds are now just barely above one percent.The Mets now start a seven-game road trip against two of the worst teams in baseball, Houston and Pittsburgh, and it's difficult to have much confidence in them, even against the dregs of the league. Of late, the Mets just can't hit.

The two losses to the Philles this weekend came on the heels of yet another Mets one-hitter/non-no-hitter, this time from man of letters R.A. Dickey. It does seem like the only way the Mets can win anymore is through a dominant pitching performance. But Jason Bay is taking batting-practice swings and may return soon, so that should fix everything.

It seems that only a matter of hours after the last pitch of the regular season — October 3, against Washington — manager Jerry Manuel will be fired. One would think this would bring the ax one step closer to general manager Omar Minaya's head, but one always thinks that with every Mets failure, and it never seems to happen. Though, as the Daily News compiled yesterday, the Mets aren't just bad on the field right now, they're embarrassing off of it. Often, that reflects on the general manager. Not always, but often. Usually.

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Photo: Mike Stobe/Getty Images