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Grumble, Grumble, Stupid Yankees Etc.

Not so long ago, the Mets losing two in a row was something that happened at least twice a week, and three times if the week were particularly unlucky.

Now, it’s vaguely shocking. Waitaminute, we lost? But we’re great! We didn’t come back? Our starting pitching wasn’t dominant? Everything didn’t turn out OK?

In truth, Johan Santana wasn’t bad — though there are more disturbing signs at the margins of his aura. Take, for instance, his declining ability to put hitters away after recording two strikes, as discussed by Mark Simon [1] of ESPN New York.  The Yankees’ four-run third inning didn’t exactly feature a barrage of hits: There was a clean single, an infield hit, a bunt the defense turned into a baserunner, and then Mark Teixeira’s drive bouncing atop the outfield wall just above Jason Bay’s glove and vanishing into the stands for a grand slam. Yet, for all that, there’s the definite feeling that Santana has descended Mount Olympus to take up residence in its loftier foothills. The fastball is not what it was, the change-up’s location has decayed in reliability, and that makes him a different pitcher. A very good pitcher, make no mistake, but not the same pitcher. Such is the road every power pitcher must travel, and Johan’s smarts and will argue that he will make the transition just fine. But such changes aren’t immediate. This process will take more trial and error, and we have to live with that — and admit that it’s not sacrilege to ask whether the ace of the Mets’ staff, the guy you’d want in that happily imaginary one game to determine the fate of the world, might now be not Johan Santana but Mike Pelfrey.

Anyway, Mark Teixeira hit a grand slam, the Mets did absolutely nothing [2] against C. C. Sabathia, and 2010’s Subway Series ended in a 3-3 draw. Thank God that’s over, and we can get back to … oh, fuck, more interleague play. Time for the Mets to renew their savage, age-old rivalry with the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins! Sigh.

On the bright side, the Mets did finally send Jenrry Mejia down to Binghamton so he can do what he should have started doing at the end of March — namely, put more notches in his belt as a starter. All praise to the Mets for finally maximizing the value of their full roster or at least getting close to that goal; continued pointed questions about why it took the Mets until nearly the summer solstice to get right what no shortage of observers had been suggesting since the equinox.

Sticking with the bright side, the Brooklyn Cyclones took two out of three from the Staten Island Yankees to kick off their 10th campaign and Wally Backman’s return to the managerial ranks. Emily and Joshua and I were in attendance last night, having watched Joshua’s Little League team lose its season finale and the Mets lose their game to the Yankees. Happily, the Cyclones broke the streak, beating the Yankees with help from approximately 12,000 Yankee errors. Less happily, the newly christened MCU Park was a mess in a way we’ve never seen it in 10 years of taking in Cyclones games: Numerous concession stands ran out of hot dogs in the early innings and nearly everything else by the end, communication was nonexistent, and the team couldn’t even manage the t-shirt toss the first time around. Going to the Cyclones is such a reliable joy of summer that one is left devoutly insisting this was Opening Night jitters, or the stress of a record crowd — nearly 10,000 filled the park Saturday night. Here’s hoping.