In this new post-realization era of 2010 Mets baseball — in which we fully realize we’re toast — 7-6 losses of games which we once led 3-0 should seem, as R.A. Dickey might eloquently put it, inconsequential. For the big picture, sure, but in terms of leading by three and losing by one, it’s pretty frustrating.
We scored six runs, we had our untitular ace on the mound and we lost anyway. We got the go-ahead run to bat against Carlos Marmol with two out in the ninth, but ultimately Josh Thole couldn’t handle it when Carlos served up his patented spiked Marmol Ade. As is, Josh doesn’t look old enough to drink anything stronger than apple juice.
Wrigley Field was the perfect place for these ever-youthening Mets to spend Friday afternoon. The Near North Side Day Care Center gave them a chance to learn to play with others. Big kid Lucas Duda demonstrated promising social skills, becoming familiar today with his bat (a ringing double to right) and his arm (a laser throw from deep left). And little Luis Hernandez — not so young, but a new kid to us — really took to Show & Tell, sharing his very first home run with the children on the other side of the fence. He gets to take Thole’s recently vacated 69th spot in Club Hessman as a reward.
(Mike Hessman: No kid, but with a .139 average in his knapsack, he’s swinging like a toddler overmatched by tee ball.)
Encouraging moments in the potential redevelopment of this sagging franchise, but not enough to compensate for knuckleballs that didn’t knuckle. And to think they flew R.A. Dickey to Chicago ahead of the ballclub so he’d be well-rested.
That may be the problem. Chicago is notorious among ballplayers for its tempting nightlife scene. Not that ballplayers really need much convincing to partake in a thriving nightlife scene or maybe overdo it on the Jack Daniels. Tim McCarver used to wink at us about road trip evenings spent visiting “museums and libraries” (wink, wink). Thus, my theory is R.A. got into town yesterday and, being R.A., actually visited museums and libraries. Shoot, he was all alone and the Art Institute stays open late on Thursdays.
Why did Dickey look so bad against the Cubs? Maybe R.A. overdid it on the Edward Hopper.
Or maybe the Cubs are just that good. Lemme check the standings…no, they’re not really any good. They’re technically much worse than we are. Who knew? I didn’t.
OK, I did. but the point is we play the Cubs infrequently and at odd intervals. Our last six series against them:
• April 2008 @ Wrigley
• September 2008 @ Shea (sniff)
• August 2009 @ Citi
• September 2009 @ Wrigley
• April 2010 @ Citi
• September 2010 @ Wrigley
Are these regularly scheduled games or some kind of recurring goodwill tour? I suppose all non-divisional opponents kind of pop in and out of our lives without much rhyme or reason, but we never seem to get the Cubs when there’s anything on the line for everybody. Lately it’s because neither of us in any good, but that September 2008 series was strange as could be for a different reason. We were contending and needed it desperately. They’d already clinched and didn’t need it all (which didn’t stop them from impolitely taking two of four). The rest of the time it’s as if the National League carefully constructs its grid of matchups and then remembers at the last minute, “Damn, we forgot somebody.”
Forgetting or barely remembering the Cubs, I was surprised to find out who comprises them these days. Xavier Nady? No kidding! When we were good and he was ours, Xavier Nady was the definition of a complementary player. We’d bat him sixth or seventh, he’d get a big hit now and then, he’d play a competent right field, we’d trade him and act like it was no big deal. If we had him now, he’d be batting cleanup for us (and then he’d suffer a concussion). And Blake DeWitt? On the Cubs? No kidding! That guy used to kill us when he was with the Dodgers?
Now he kills us when he’s with the Cubs.
This seems an appropriate interval to go crotchety and demand to know why we don’t play the Cubs more often, irritating presence of Xavier Nady and Blake DeWitt within their ranks notwithstanding. The Mets and Cubs used to be an event, even if the event was a battle for fifth place. Friday afternoon, Wrigley Field, weird camera angles, hung over ballplayers, Dave Kingman breaking windows for or maybe against us, games suspended on account of darkness…you didn’t need a pennant race to make it interesting. You just needed the Mets and the Cubs doing this regularly.
Well, one trip a year to the ivy-covered burial ground is better than nothing, even if nothing is what we came away with this Friday afternoon. Good to know, per the late Steve Goodman’s timeless lament, that they still play the blues in Chicago when baseball season rolls around. And it’s surprising to know that Omar Minaya takes JetBlue to Chicago when the baseball season has gotten out of hand. If, as Deadspin reported, his fellow passengers were a little frank with Omar, I imagine they might have thrown a Wilpon from the plane.
Though I imagine Fred and Jeff fly private.
Huge dork that I allegedly am, I think I’m going to prepare for tomorrow afternoon’s game by staying in tonight, relaxing with a little Tin Tin and repeatedly checking the forecast for Wrigley Field. You know what they say about the weather in Chicago: If you don’t like it, wait ten minutes and it will change. Let’s see what they’re expecting, nonetheless…
Weather.com says it will be a sunny 65 degrees at gametime, with the wind blowing from the west-northwest at 18 miles per hour. Sounds like it could get a little chilly, and with our best young pitching prospect making his first start, I am — given my terrifying memory — filled with dread and visions of Tim Leary’s aching right forearm from when another long-ago baseball season rolled around.
It was too cold for such a valuable arm to be put at risk that April day in 1981, so my advice for our kid pitcher Jenrry tomorrow?