Oliver Perez rocked me to sleep late Friday evening, which was a nice change from the nightmares one usually experiences from watching him pitch. He was smooth, the Mets were winning, the Padres were quiet, it was San Diego at midnight…except for the lack of Southern California sunshine, it may as well have been the fuckin’ Catalina Wine Mixer.
Then I wake up, groggily absorbing the ninth-inning score of 2-1. Here’s Frankie Rodriguez, who can pull down three outs like the rest of us might grab forty winks. We may have lost all cachet this season, but K-Rod gives us prestige worldwide when it comes to closing out games.
I was awake for this. Marvin Hudson, however, was dead asleep. And while I sat approximately 2,447 miles from home plate at Petco Park, I was closer to the game’s pivotal play than he was.
Which would be fine except Hudson was the home plate ump who may as well have been on this side of the continent, snoozing on the other side of the couch from me, given where he positioned himself to call rumbling Kyle Blanks safe when, in fact, Blanks’ hand was tagged short of the plate by Brian Schneider.
Where I come from, the catcher tagging the runner before the runner can touch the plate is out. Where Hudson comes from, this is not the case. But Hudson comes from a place too far away to make an accurate call. He could have been on Long Island, he could have been on Catalina Island. The point is he was nowhere near home plate in San Diego.
Was I so drowsy that I think the Mets were robbed of a 2-1 win by a lazy umpire who couldn’t be bothered to open his eyes or move his feet? Not exactly. Putting aside the Mets’ standard-issue pacifistic hitting attack after the first (with no hits after the fifth), K-Rod’s definitely going through another Bramando Fragner phase wherein the Mets closer of record can’t be counted on to shut the door of a dollhouse. He did walk Blanks and did he allow a very long hit to Will Venable as prelude to Marvin’s misjudgment — but instead of it being 2-2, runner on third, nobody out, it should have been 2-1, runner on third, one out. Big honking difference, I’d say. Without Hudson’s river of carelessness, we’re not semi-intentionally walking one batter and then handing out four purposeful balls to the next guy. We’re not loading the bases and playing five infielders and two short-centerfielders and that whole desperation thing that generally never works.
Guess what — it didn’t work. Everth Cabrera, whom Gary and Ron were talking about Thursday as one of those Padres who couldn’t possibly be ready for the majors, lofted a grand slam to right as you or I might toss a crumpled up piece of paper into a wastebasket. Game over, a good nap spoiled, Marvin Hudson a disgrace, Ollie’s unexpected effectiveness nothing but a gauzy memory and K-Rod’s S-Lump yet one more Met concern to throw on the teeming pile of them.
This was the seventh consecutive loss the Padres have pinned on the Mets at Petco, which I’m told is a lovely place under more benign circumstances. Four of those seven have been walkoff losses, which is to say the Padres have made a habit of trampling some downtrodden Met reliever’s carcass en route to jumping all over themselves at home plate like preteen girls winding down a pillow fight. Schoeneweis, Feliciano and Wagner did the dishonors last June. Now it’s K-Rod whose ass has been Friared. The Mets have lost all five games they’ve played in SoCal this season, too. The last time they unveiled the five-infielder conceit, Jeremy Reed was the first baseman and he mistook the Dodger Stadium grandstand for home plate.
And that’s a horseshit shirt they’re wearing.
The San Diego Padres, a festering blight twice a year but otherwise inconsequential in the broader portrayal of our existence, are barely mentioned in Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets, available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or a bookstore near you. Keep in touch and join the discussion on Facebook.
Meanwhile, the Mets are finally paying tribute to a Mets great at Citi Field. Thanks to Metstradamus for the great reporting.