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Jets left fans with empty feeling Mets’ faithful can relate to

It’s been damn near three months now, and if you happen to run into a Mets fan at the right hour in a saloon, the laments will flow like the beer taps on the other side of the mahogany. Yes, Steve Cohen’s spending spree (even with the Coup d’Correa still unfinished) has been a helpful salve. But that only goes so far.

Funny thing, too:

If you’d talked to those same Mets fans back on Dec. 19, 2021, the day the Mets hired Buck Showalter, and asked them the following: “You’ve been absent the playoffs the last five years and haven’t even truly come within shouting distance of the playoffs; what would you say if you made the playoffs next year in Year 1 of BuckBall?”

This is what most of them would have said:

“Where do I sign up?”

Ah, but things happen. Things change. The Mets came charging out of the gate, seized first place in the NL East and kept it themselves for 4 ½ months. They endured extended visits to the shelf by their co-aces, Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, and kept winning anyway, and didn’t finish until they’d piled up 101 wins and tied for first in the division.

They moved the goal posts, is what they did.

David Peterson (l. to. r.), Daniel Vogelbach and James McCann watch as the Padres celebrate eliminating the Mets from the playoffs.
Corey Sipkin

And so by the second weekend in October, it was hard to remember any one of those 101 wins, difficult to enjoy any of the highlights accrued across six mostly prosperous months. Year 1 of BuckBall would not be an innocent climb but a wicked tease, all the good that came before shrouded by three awful games in Atlanta against the Braves and two worse games at home against the Padres a week later.

“No regrets,” GM Billy Eppler said a few days after that. “We gave this everything we had, every member of the organization.”

That may be true. Doesn’t make Mets fans feel better at last call.

Which brings us to the Jets.

Jets fans have had two full days to absorb the latest piece of a five-part collapse, the Jets ringing in the New Year with a familiar old storyline. And, as a fair proportion of Mets fans also happen to be Jets fans … well, yes, you can find them filling their glasses with a frosty pint of regret right about now, if they haven’t chosen to go Dry January (though that seems a poor choice by any Mets/Jets fan, if you think about it).

If you’d talked to those same Jets fans back in August, in the middle of training camp after years of utter futility, and asked them the following: “You’ve been absent the playoffs the last 11 years and haven’t even sniffed them in seven; what would you say if you won seven games this year and were ‘in the hunt’ all through December?”

Mike White and the Jets saw their playoff hopes end with a loss to the Seahawks on Sunday.

This is what most of them would have said:

“Where do I sign up?”

Ah, but things happen. Things change. The Jets pulled out a miracle win in Cleveland in Week 2. They won at Pittsburgh, a longtime haunted city for them, in Week 4. They were 6-3. They were 7-4. There was actually a mathematical path for them to steal the AFC East if they kept winning. Whatever modest ambitions ruled the day before Week 1, they were sure different by Week 11.

They moved the goal posts, is what they did.

And so now, it is all but futile to draw a happy face on this season, even if they go and win a what-the-hell game in Miami this week. The harsh reality of an 0-5 plunge all but camouflages all the wonderful surprises that helped the Jets grow that 7-4 record.

“We didn’t finish the season the way we wanted to,” linebacker C.J. Mosley said, “but we’re fortunate enough to be healthy enough to be playing one more game this season with our teammates, with our coaches. We just have to enjoy that moment as much as we can.”

In a sobering time around the NFL community, that is a perfectly reasonable take. But it doesn’t minimize the sting of the last five weeks, even if you started the season as a Jets fan with perfectly reasonable aspirations. But things happen. Things change. That emptiness you’re feeling as a Jets fan? You’ve earned it.

Same as the Mets fans did.

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