Sox collapse has familiar ring to Mets

New York Mets third baseman David Wright teamed with reliever Bobby Parnell after the game Monday to lift a couch, trying to locate a missing part of Willie Harris' earring.

"If you weren't hitting .300 this month, we wouldn't be over here," Parnell lightheartedly told Harris in a relatively chipper clubhouse, given the Mets had just lost to the Cincinnati Reds 6-5.

Four years earlier to the day, on Sept. 26, 2007, the postgame atmosphere in the clubhouse at since-demolished Shea Stadium was far more somber. Philip Humber, getting his first major league start so Pedro Martinez could get extra rest, allowed five runs in four innings en route to a 9-6 loss to the Washington Nationals. It was the final day the Mets occupied sole possession of first place in the National League East and was days from the completion of arguably baseball's all-time worst collapse -- squandering a seven-game lead with 17 to play.

It is now a scene being replayed with the Boston Red Sox, who were caught Monday in the wild-card race by the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Red Sox led the Rays by nine games on Sept. 3 but since have lost 17 of 22.

"I don't sit here and say I play favorites. I'm not rooting for one team over another," said Wright, who is one of the few holdovers from that '07 Mets squad, along with Jose Reyes and Mike Pelfrey. "But I feel for what they're going through because it's not fun. Any time you talk about losing the lead late, it kind of wears on you. You see the press conferences after the game, and they're kind of saying a lot of the same things we did. You feel for what they're going through. You know what they're going through. But they're a talented team. It should make for an interesting couple of games."

Asked to elaborate on the similar utterances between the '11 Red Sox and the '07 Mets, Wright added: "You try to put it into context that you're still in the driver's seat. If they win both of their games, then they're still in control. They don't need any help at this point. I could see the looks on their faces were kind of the same as what we felt that time. But, like I said, they've got a lot of talent."

The Mets four years ago did themselves no favors by antagonizing the Florida Marlins, who had extra motivation to deliver the fatal blow in scoring seven first-inning runs against Tom Glavine in Game No. 162.

"We did it to ourselves," Wright said back then, on the day of the elimination. "It's not like we didn't see this coming and it just blindsided us. We gradually let this thing slip away. Shooting yourselves in the foot over and over again down the stretch, in all honesty, we didn't deserve it. We weren't playing playoff-quality baseball. We didn't deserve to make the playoffs. You finish a homestand -- the biggest homestand of the year -- 1-6, that's not good enough."

It's still easy to vividly recall how Wright looked in that postgame interview. Pale. Stunned. His eye black running.

"What could have went wrong, went wrong," Wright recalled Monday night about '07.

Harris' earring piece was located, by the way. Reliever Tim Byrdak found it.

"Since he didn't have any hair in the front," Wright quipped about Byrdak's receded hairline, "he can get closer to the ground."