I don't know. At a certain point it was so off-the-chart bad — it got funny. My central nervous system was telling me something.
—Aaron Altman, Broadcast News
Let's be clear that these things happen in the course of a season, no matter how good a club is. Teams lose badly sometimes. It can happen with no warning, even at home in the middle of the day in the middle of the week. The Mets have a history of such degradations falling out of the bright blue sky and onto their heads — even the really good Mets.
The 1969 Mets were spanked hard in a daytime doubleheader July 30, a Wednesday afternoon at Shea, by the Houston Astros, 16-3 and 11-5; things got so unseemly that Gil Hodges marched straight to left field to legendarily inform Cleon Jones he was injured. The 1986 Mets, behind Dwight Gooden no less, took it on the chin and probably up an orifice or two from the Reds, 11-1, on the Wednesday afternoon of July 9.
It happens. It doesn't necessarily reflect your overall operation. It doesn't mean you are what you ate, even if you just ate it big time.
Sometimes, of course, it does. I don't know that the Mets losing this afternoon, another Wednesday, by an undeniably embarrassing tally of 13 to 1 means they are the kind of team that is barely good enough to beat an otherwise lousy Pittsburgh Pirates one night and horrid enough to get their heads kicked in by them the next day. I do know that since the truly scintillating evening that Armando Benitez balked Jose Reyes around the bases and Carlos Delagdo took him deep into the Flushing night, your New York Mets are a strictly break-even proposition: 69 and 69 dating back to May 30, 2007. That's 138 games. That's 84% of a full season, all managed by Willie Randolph, all masterminded by Omar Minaya, all featuring the stars David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, John Maine, Oliver Perez, Billy Wagner, Aaron Heilman and others.
69 and 69 is more alarming than 13 to 1. 13 to 1 is just plain ridiculous. Take it from one who witnessed nine frigid innings of it from Section 1 of the upper deck.
Yes! Yes, I went to this abortion of a debacle of a fiasco of a game! Yes, this was my chosen midweek afternoon in the sun! And yes, this was the absolute worst pounding I ever saw the Mets absorb at Shea Stadium in 36 seasons of Logging such matters. Except for one night in Detroit in 1997 when I was more concerned with the ballpark than the ballgame, I had never seen the Mets lose by as many as a dozen runs.
I have now.
Statistically, it was the worst home loss I ever experienced. Emotionally, it wasn't in the same ballpark as the Day of Devastation exactly seven months earlier, but having sat through September 30, 2007 and April 30, 2008, I detected some eerie parallels:
• Seven runs in an early inning off a starting pitcher who showed no gumption as things got worse and worse.
• Luis Castillo unhinging the starting pitcher with a fumbled double play ball.
• Luis Castillo making the last out.
• The Mets looking like amateurs against a team allegedly not on their level.
• No crowds to fight through on the way to the exits.
Differences? That was a numbing afternoon for reasons that have been exhaustively documented. This was just farcical. Also, today was like 40 degrees colder and the entire season was not at stake. Plus, we didn't start on time this time. I was with my friend Rich whose wife is expecting in about six days. Her water has yet to break, but the Mets' did. Add “been at a game delayed because a ruptured main wouldn't allow hosing of infield” to my lifetime attendance record.
Either way, the Mets delivered a twelve-run, bouncing loss.
Omar help us if there are any more days like this at Shea Stadium, but I mildly pity anyone who hasn't sat through one of these from late start to silent finish. Seriously. This was one of those days when you could really understand the instinct to boo, but after the umpteenth Met miscue, you didn't have the energy to take part. This was one of those days when you remembered what 1978 felt like every day, when you imagined what 1967 felt like all year. It was blustery and sparse and bad but not the end of the world because it wasn't the end of the season. You can handle this a little better in April, even on the final afternoon of April. This was one of those days when the Nikon Camera Player of the Game was either the school group that kept up a LET'S GO METS! chant as the innings grew late and the sun grew elusive or the school group that filed out after the eighth but not before shouting toward the field, BYE METS!
I hope we're not all saying that soon where the 2008 season is concerned.