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Garbage Time

At least Jerry played the kids.

There really isn’t a lot else to say about this one — Johan Santana spotted the Astros a three-spot while searching for his changeup in an ugly first inning, ripped a double past the third baseman instead of bunting, David Wright hit a home run, and Ike Davis started a nifty double play. Four moments that are already receding into the distance in a game that wasn’t very memorable [1], in a season fading to black.

Regarding Frankie Rodriguez, for posterity I’ll note that he was placed on the disqualified list, meaning the Mets won’t pay him while he’s injured and may seek to void the rest of his contract. As someone with an irrational hatred of K-Rod [2], I wish the Mets the best of luck with that, while assuming it won’t work. I fully expect K-Rod to be in St. Lucie, with mid-February a tedious succession of stories about how he has regrets but has grown and matured and is eager to take his newfound maturity onto the field. In other words, he’ll have endured some anger-management dumbshow and learned to make a display of scripted contrition at least 30 times.

So what’s left for 2010?

The best scenario, in my mind, would go something like this: The Mets realize they can contend in 2011, but not if they continue to waste roster spots and at-bats on players who offer veteran qualities but no particularly useful baseball skills. Jerry Manuel is excused in early September in favor of Wally Backman, still basking in the glow of the Brooklyn Cyclones’ first New York-Penn League crown. The kids get the bulk of the playing time for the rest of the year. Omar Minaya is reassigned in favor of a GM who will approach the offseason with something resembling a coherent plan. The Wilpons note the plummeting attendance at Citi Field and their team’s irrelevance and make a hard, expensive decision aimed at showing fans they are willing to admit mistakes, determined to put the best possible team on the field, and know they need to demonstrate that the team is on firm financial ground: Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez are released.

Since the chance of all that happening is pretty much zero, what can we realistically look for in terms of solace? Well, R.A. Dickey starts tomorrow, and watching our intrepid knuckleballer and wordsmith is always a pleasure. There’s the continuing development of Angel Pagan and Jon Niese, two question marks turned exclamation marks. There’s hope for more of the early-season Mike Pelfrey. There’s hoping that Ike and Ruben Tejada and Josh Thole and maybe Fernando Martinez go into October with some successes under their belts and lessons learned. (And while we’re at it, Bobby Parnell should be closing whatever there is to close.) There’s hoping that Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay can extract some positives from lost seasons, as they’ll be needed next year.

What else? Well, who knows? Perhaps Dickey will have the knuckleball dancing one of these nights, and this time there won’t be an enemy pitcher with a single well-placed hit [3]. (It’s gotta happen eventually, right?) Perhaps F-Mart can announce himself with a three-homer game, or Tejada can open eyes with a 5-for-5 night. Perhaps we get to play spoilers — I remember 2004 with shudders, but say “Victor Diaz, Craig Brazell and the Cubs” and you’ll see a silly grin on my face.

And amid our anger and dismay, let’s not forget this: There are 43 more baseball games left to watch. That’s a hell of a lot better than anything that 43 days of fall and winter will have to offer.