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‘A Freak Accident:’ Michael Conforto’s Injury Sums Up the Mets’ Lost Season

The rising star outfielder’s shoulder ailment blots out one of the lone bright spots in the team’s snakebit campaign

Michael Conforto leaves a game with an injury, helped by a trainer for the Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

In the bottom of the fifth inning of the New York Mets’ day game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday, left fielder Michael Conforto, one of the lone rays of sunlight during this total eclipse of a baseball season for the franchise, took a routine swing-and-a-miss on a 2-0 count and then promptly hit the deck, hard. It wasn’t an air raid, and he hadn’t been beaned by a pitch: It was arguably worse. According to reports filtering out from Citi Field, the 24-year-old dislocated his shoulder on the play, an injury that will almost certainly put an end to his ascendant season.

Until now, Conforto was hitting .279 for New York, with 27 home runs and 68 RBI, a pace that had earned him his first All-Star nod just two years after he was first called up to the majors (to replace a then-injured Michael Cuddyer). On the season, he is second on the team only to now-former Met Jay Bruce in homers and RBIs. Two of those ribbies came just Wednesday, when he returned from missing a day on Tuesday with a sore thumb and went 2-for-4 against Arizona, helping the Mets win for just the second time in their past 10 games. “I knew it wasn’t going to be a thing where I would miss a lot of time,” Conforto said Wednesday night about his thumb, disastrously neglecting to knock wood as he spoke.

This will be the 26th time this year that the Mets have placed a guy on the disabled list—a number that probably would be even higher if the franchise didn’t have a stubborn aversion to sidelining players, Conforto included. On Thursday morning, shortly before Conforto’s probably final 2017 game, the team distributed a lengthy 10-player injury update that included the names Steven Matz (whose season is over due to ulnar nerve transposition surgery on his left elbow); Zack Wheeler (who has now been officially shut down for the year after not having played for the past month); Matt Harvey (who continues to rehab his shoulder in the minors); and Noah Syndergaard (who has seen more time on the Lannister army’s battlefields this season than he has on the Mets mound). Between those guys, Seth Lugo, Tyler Pill, and Jeurys Familia, the Mets pitching staff must be absolutely killing it in the Upside Down Professional Baseball League.

“A freak accident” is how CBS Sports described Conforto agonizingly clutching the chasm where his limb once attached to his body—but when it comes to the Mets, it’s starting to feel like the only freak accident was the brief and beautiful window of time, less than two years ago, when enough of the team was able-bodied for it to stagger all the way to the World Series. These days, the franchise once defined by its hale and hearty Dark Knight is now best represented by a Monty Pythonian Black Knight. And even that might be an overly optimistic assessment: The Black Knight at least kept his torso. The Mets right now are entirely devoid of their core.