Come back Pirates! We promise we’ll show up! We’ll even clear the tornadoes out of the area for you!
Drat the luck that we had to play a good team with something on the line this weekend. For 24 dreamy hours before the Braves replaced the Pirates on the Citi Field scoreboard’s top half, we were a winning team again, our record floating three ethereal one-thousandths of a point over the .500 mark. We were 74-73, with 81-81 seeming graspable, 82-80 not looking so crazy and at least one delusional blogger wondering for approximately one-millionth of one microsecond, “What if we sweep the Braves? Is it even possible…”
No, it wasn’t possible. The Braves weren’t the Pirates. More substantially, the Mets — tragic number for playoff elimination: 1 — aren’t much of anything when they’re not playing the Pirates or their American League doppelgängers, the Orioles and Indians. When the Mets faced those three plucky if undersized baseball squadrons in 2010, their record was a tidy 12-1. When they didn’t, they’ve been a mess: 62-75. They all count, but after a while, you’re forced to pick on someone your own size. The Mets’ true calling, alas, has been swaggering bully against three teams, pliable punching bag for all the rest.
Another statistic to note: 0 vs. 12, as in the Mets have hit no grand slams this season but have surrendered a dozen. Is it even possible? Apparently it is, but it’s pretty much unprecedented. ESPN says no team has ever finished a season with this kind of ratio slamming them in the face over and over and over (times four) again.
You don’t have to be some journeyman junkballer to have gotten in on the action; two-time Cy Young winner Johan Santana gave up three grand slams on his own. Most of the four-run homers, however, have been served up the ham-and-egger corps of Met middle relievers, including two by the generally competent if quickly forgettable righty Manny Acosta. The former Brave didn’t exactly have it goin’ on Sunday against his old club when he entered a tie game in the top of the seventh. The bases were loaded, two were out (a situation facing seven of the previous eleven grand slam pitchers) and Acosta worked Derrek Lee to 3-and-2.
Manny threw a strike, and Lee struck it.
Twelve grand slams given up by Met pitchers this year…and the Mets’ record in those twelve games?
0-12, of course.
It seems almost unfair to equate these Mets of suddenly late September with the Mets who occasionally raised our hopes during frisky portions of April, June and those four games last week. These Mets are dropping like flies…or opposition grand slams into second decks of stadiums. Since this month dawned, Santana, Jenrry Mejia and Luis Hernandez have all gone out for the season. Even with an expanded roster, the Mets are losing the war of attrition.
Yet these Mets are technically those Mets, at least as far as the disappearing slate of 162 games in concerned. As things stand now, these/those Mets’ final record for 2010 will fall somewhere between 74-88 and 88-74. I think it’s safe to say it won’t be 88-74 and, even after getting swept by the Wild Carding Coxmen, it will probably be better than 74-88. Here’s what’s left to play and to ponder:
• 2 @ FLA (Mets 0-4 in Miami plus 1-2 in regrettable San Juan)
• 3 @ PHI (Mets 2-4 in Philly)
• 4 vs. MIL @ home (the Brewers haven’t been to Citi Field since April 19, 2009; have you missed them?)
• 3 vs. WAS @ home (Mets 2-4 in Queens against the Nats — a last-place team we can’t handle with ease)
If you’d like to accurately remember this season as a winning proposition, the Mets will have to go 8-4 in their final twelve. If you believe the Mets’ win one/lose one ethos should be properly reflected for posterity, they’ll need to put a 7-5 on the board. And if you’re pretty sure 2010 can be summed up by the way they’ve allowed grand slam after grand slam while hitting none, then you probably assume they’ve lost about a hundred games already.
They haven’t. It just feels that way when they’re not playing the Pirates.