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It’s Still Surly

Saturday’s was the first game of 2011 to leave me in Angry Bird/flipping bird mode when it was done, which seems awfully late considering much of this season’s first month was pockmarked by ugly Met losses. There were isolated incidences of ire through April, but they were usually situational, such as “how the fuck did Emaus does not pick up that ball fucking cleanly and get Capuano out of this fucking inning?” but mostly I had so few expectations for this team that they didn’t seem worth getting riled up about.

The surliest I got, probably, was when D.J. Carrasco let Chris Young’s small masterpiece against the Nationals turn into a no-decision that first home Sunday, with Blaine Boyer coming on soon enough to toss the entire team effort into an environmentally friendly Citi Field trash receptacle. But I was having a nice day in Promenade, so I chalked it up as (mostly) one of those things. Plus I was soon enough sated by how quickly the Republic of Aldersonia exercised informed impatience and disappeared those who committed game-blowing crimes [1]against the state.

But peace in our time has given way to pissed all afternoon into evening, at least since the 2:25 Roy Halladay devoted to folding up the Mets and slipping them in his back pocket expired. What a lousy fucking way to lose a fucking lousy baseball game.

• I hate how close to moral victory territory losing 2-1 to Halladay [2] felt, the way young Niese kept up with the old master. That’s great for Disney, not for the major leagues. They’re mortal over there, even in the rotation. Your guy pitches well, you should be capable of figuring out how to score for him, even against Halladay, against whom the Mets are 0-6 since he became a Phillie. We face this magnificent bastard far too often to revel the slightest in moral victory.

• I hate that Niese’s slim one-run margin through the middle of the seventh sat there so tenuously. The only other time this season when visions of a lead becoming a win danced through my oughta-know-better head was that Young game against Washington. That was my 500th official Mets game attended and I made the rookie mistake of trying to calculate how many wins I would soon have in the bag once the Mets nailed it down. The answer was one fewer than I dared to presume. Today, as Niese showed signs of just maybe besting Halladay, I wondered if just maybe I’d have to revise my Game 027 plans where The Happiest Recap [3] is concerned. Once John Mayberry took Niese past the flower pots in left field, that pondering was rendered moot. (Smooth move, Ferguson [4].)

• I hate that the thought of beating Roy Halladay looms as so momentous an occasion that I was actually considering it as potentially one of the two best 27th games in Mets history. The Mets, as I’ve learned through my hours of scouring box scores, used to engage in and win pitchers’ duels with some degree of regularity. It wasn’t that big a deal to beat the Roy Halladay of other eras once the Mets conquered Koufax — it wasn’t unprecedented, anyway. Nowadays, it’s not that the aces have gotten bigger, it’s that the Mets have gotten smaller.

• I hate that I spent eleven seasons on a series of living room couches watching the Mets crumble before one edition of Atlanta Braves after another, cursing everything about the team that could not be dislodged from the top of the National League East, finally ascending to the mountaintop via one fleeting six-month joyride [5] only to slide down the side of Everest yet again, left to stare up at another perennial division champion that’s just as formidable, just as indestructible, just as irritating to lose to too many fucking times in the course of a year.

• I hate that the six-game winning streak got me taking this stupid team more seriously than I’d ever planned on in 2011. As Joey “The Lips” Fagan tried to console Jimmy Rabbitte at the end of The Commitments, they raised my expectations of life and lifted my horizons…at least enough to make me think we were gonna ditch fifth place for the foreseeable future. Well, even that much hasn’t transpired. Fuck!

• I hate that the six-game winning streak was built on a foundation of hay. The Mets took one from the lousy Astros, three from the lousy Diamondbacks and two from the lousy Nationals before the lousy Nationals took one from us. You play who you play, I always say, but the Mets don’t seem to beat anybody who’s capable of sustaining superior play. They’re 8-7 against sub-.500 outfits and 3-10 against the thus far good squads. It’s eerily and unsatisfyingly reminiscent of how the Mets conducted themselves from June 11 through October 3 of 2010: 12-1 versus absolute dregs Baltimore, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, 35-54 versus all other comers. The Mets are the weasely third-graders who stick it to the first-graders just coming back from shingles, and can’t do a thing with the rest of the third grade.

Anything else to get my hate on? Oh, let’s see, I hate that…

the Phillies continue to have a nicer ballpark than we do;

that the character-starved people [6] (with the occasional Well-Meaning exception) who get to go to that ballpark leave it, as a rule, feeling just super;

that Charlie Manuel obviously had no compunction about letting Halladay bat in the bottom of the seventh of a tie game — as it should be, but it’s become so goddamn rare that it’s almost shocking;

that Buchholz can get Polanco out and Polanco still produces the eventual winning RBI;

that the whole world stops spinning and lefties have to be retrieved from under rocks the moment Ryan Howard shows his face/arms;

that Wilson Valdez has managed to make Chase Utley’s absence almost incidental;

that Vance Worley, Joe Grahe and Darrin Winston combined to shut us out for eight innings Friday night;

that they don’t miss fifth starters nor two closers;

that Willie Harris is a no-tool threat coming off the bench;

that Willie Harris isn’t given every opportunity to pal around with his buddies [7] in our nation’s capital;

that Ike Davis doesn’t know better than to swing at first pitches with runners on base;

that the Mets didn’t see Ball One until their tenth batter;

that there are still tailors who lovingly hand-craft double play balls and they all work for Roy Halladay;

that Fox chooses to save money by refusing to employ a professional play-by-play announcer and instead uses apparent contest-winner or obvious nepotee Matt Vasgersian to fill the spaces between Tim McCarver;

that the Mets continue to punish us by sticking us with Wayne Hagin;

and that exactly one-sixth of the season is in the books, we’ve had a lovely hot streak, yet we’re still a basement-dwelling 11-16 unit that might get better for a spell but will most likely revert to form, and whatever portion of the summer isn’t wasted worrying and wondering about which big contract will be traded — and for what — will be given over to teasing us with Matt Harvey [8] or whoever because all this team has going for it is a vague notion that the future will beat the present all while the present proves it has a perverse talent for sticking around clear to the end of September.

Other than that, good game.