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Inches and Streaks

Posted By Jason Fry On May 4, 2012 @ 11:08 pm In 1 | Comments Disabled

It wasn’t fun watching Ike Davis strike out, roll an ankle and let a grounder play him into a helpless knot on its way into right field.

It wasn’t fun watching Jon Rauch hang sliders and snap his big, tattooed head around to follow their flight into faraway parts of Citi Field.

It wasn’t fun watching Scott Hairston doing whatever the hell he was doing on that ball that became a ground-rule double.

None of it was fun.

The Mets have lost four in a row, their bullpen resembles a gang of arsonists, Ike looks as lost as he did in the early going, and bad luck seems to be nipping at the team’s heels whenever some aspect of their game tires.

Not so long ago the Mets took two out of three from the Rockies, looking resilient in doing so, then donned their cowboy gear and strutted down to Houston, where the not-yet-rebuilt Astros seemed like easy pickings. Instead the Astros smacked the Mets around pitilessly, what looked like a workaday win against the Diamondbacks spiraled out of control and became a teeth-grinding loss [1], and after this brief homestead the Mets have to face the Phillies and the Marlins on the road. They’re .500 and that glass sure feels half-empty.

But this is the tough part of baseball fandom just as it’s the tough part of the real thing — days when balls don’t land quite where you need them to, weeks when the statistical ebb and flow of the season goes against you, and either way as a fan all you can do is sit on the couch and fume.

Hang in there. Shut your eyes, stick your fingers in your ears and find a quiet place, in hopes that there you can find a renewed perspective.

It’s a game of inches.

In the second, Andres Torres drove a ball off the orange line at the top of the No Longer So Great Wall of Flushing. Josh Thole and Dillon Gee promptly struck out; Torres didn’t score. In the fifth, with two men on, Scott Hairston crushed a ball down the left-field line that hit less than a foot on the wrong side of the foul pole, wrapping itself around it and seeming to startle a maroon-clad security guy rather badly. Given another chance, Wade Miley struck Hairston out and then got Ike to hit into a double play. Give the Mets about 18 inches between those two hits and they win 9-5, with Ike’s struggles and the bullpen’s failures discordant minor notes as we crow about the contributions of newcomers and complementary guys.

(And that’s without mentioning Thole turning in a good at-bat in the eighth, contending against both David Hernandez and the strike zone before ramming a ball that lumbering Jason Kubel was just able to stick up his glove and snag, or Daniel Murphy ending the game on a laser beam up the gap that Gerardo Parra grabbed parallel to the earth. Inches again.)

It’s also a game of streaks, statistics blowing hot and cold.

Rauch and Tim Byrdak look terrible right now, but they looked like world-beaters in the first couple of weeks of the season. Neither scouting report was accurate. This will be true other places as well. David Wright isn’t going to hit .395. Ike Davis isn’t going to hit .172. You’re sitting on the couch waiting to get socked in the gut this week; last week Todd Helton hit a pinch-hit grand slam and you thought, “Ah, they’ll probably come back.”

It’s baseball. Cheer and yell and groan and pout, but don’t let it kill you.


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[1] a teeth-grinding loss: http://scores.espn.go.com/mlb/recap?gameId=320504121&teams=arizona-diamondbacks-vs-new-york-mets

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