To this day, the trauma lingers deep in the psyche of Mets fans, the memories stored away in the kind of dark corners reserved for bitter breakups.
September 2007. Up seven games with 17 to play. The swoon. The collapse. The heartache.
"You can probably ask the majority of guys in here," said Mets captain David Wright, one of the last remaining links to that spectacular failure. "They probably have no idea about that. I don't think about it. I've learned from it. But I don't think about it."
Perhaps fans shouldn't either.
Just how well have the Mets positioned themselves for their first postseason appearance since 2006?
After a month in which they remade themselves, assembling a lineup to match the best collection of young pitching in baseball, the Mets enter this weekend's three-games series against the Marlins with a 61/2-game lead over the Nationals.
With the right breaks, the Mets could deliver a knockout blow to their chief rivals in Washington on Labor Day.
"We put ourselves in a position where we've got to go out there and take care of business," Wright said. "And I think that you play a lot of games up to this point to put yourself in position to make the postseason. But there's still a long time to go. I know as well as anybody that there's nothing that's safe until it happens."
After beating the Braves on Sept. 12 of the 2007 season, the Mets had just a 0.2% chance of blowing the division, according to projections at the time by Baseball Prospectus.
Consider the Mets' playoff odds on Sept. 1. According to Baseball Prospectus, the Mets began that day with a 93.9% chance of making the playoffs, their best probability this season.
Manager Terry Collins will rely on the veteran leadership in the Mets clubhouse as the stakes get higher with each passing day.