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Go Hug the Nearest the Mets Fan

Actually, no. Don’t do that. Please offer your condolences from a safe distance.

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

The Mets, at this point, might be wise to consider a seance. Also a great heap of burning sage, a Spencer Pratt crystal consultation, a Hail Mary or 10. Or a hundred. I would propose a human sacrifice, but they’ve done that several times over in an increasingly remarkable number of ways, and here we still are.

The thing about the Mets is — ow. On Sunday, we learned Noah Syndergaard was heading to the disabled list after contracting hand, foot, and mouth disease. A day earlier, closer Jeurys Familia was traded to Oakland for a pair of prospects; he picked up a win in a 10-inning game against the Giants the very next day. On Monday, the plague struck a person you may or may not consider an actual baseball player, but who at the very least has been raking with the Mets’ Double-A affiliate all summer: Tim Tebow went down with a broken hamate bone and is almost certainly out for the rest of the season. Yoenis Céspedes, meanwhile, was activated over the weekend after a two-month stint on the disabled list — and then told reporters that he would need surgery on both his heels, which would require an eight-to-10-month recovery, a diagnosis of which manager Mickey Callaway professed to be unaware. Syndergaard’s teammates, some of whom have had recent contact with the pitcher, are being instructed to wash their hands.

If you read very much about the Mets — out of divisional schadenfreude or morbid curiosity or because some cruel parent forsook your future autumnal happiness many years ago and planted an orange-and-blue cap on your sweet, innocent, unknowing infant head — then you know some of this is business as usual. The Metropolitans are a franchise of tough breaks, figuratively and literally: of confusion that arrives at only the worst moments, of ligaments that suddenly seem to weaken. But even by Flushing standards, all of this — an adieu to a closer for marginal cost savings, a hand apparently snapped doing nothing more than “swinging the bat,” a broken star outfielder, and hand, foot, and mouth disease — is baffling. That this should come at a tumultuous time on the front-office side — a platoon of executives is filling in for general manager Sandy Alderson, who is on leave while he’s treated for a recurrence of cancer — makes the pandemonium seem that much grimmer.

Mr. Met weepeth.

It’s Amed Rosario, the presumed savior, racking up minus-0.6 WAR. It’s Matt Harvey departing Queens and then miraculously looking like himself again in Cincinnati. It’s free-agency additions Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce out with a muscle strain and plantar fasciitis, respectively. It’s Jacob deGrom carrying a 1.68 ERA this season and the Mets being just 8–11 when he starts. It’s the headline “Even a Mets’ Todd Frazier pullover giveaway lands on the disabled list.” It’s, um, whatever was the matter with it. It’s just so many visits to the ominously named Hospital for Special Surgery. I would say to hug a Mets fan, but Mets fans are not the sort to like hugs. Plus, there’s disease going around.

Last week, The Late Show aired a segment in which Stephen Colbert visited the Mets to ask for their input on how to make baseball more entertaining. Is there a worse candidate for this advice? As far as packaged entertainment products go, it’s hard to think of anything that has prompted much more in the way of outright despair among loyal viewers; the name “Wilpon” is enough to make whole boroughs shudder.

And so, with the Mets 13 games out of the second NL wild-card spot — FanGraphs, somewhat cruelly, still gives them a 0.2 percent chance of making it to October — and an apparent rebuild looming, followers might just have to take comfort where they can find it: After this season, Chase Utley will never play against the NL East again.