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The Wreck of the Jeremy Hefner

In light of the dreary weather through which all concerned were compelled to muck Thursday night, the New York Mets have announced tickets from their 11-5 loss to the San Diego Padres can be redeemed for complimentary admission [1] to tonight’s game.

But only if you’ve been bad.

Your conscience would have to wracked by a gaggle of guilt to voluntarily submit to the punishment of another Mets-Padres tilt under dicey skies so immediately soon. “I haven’t suffered enough for my sins, I should also wear a promotional replica batting practice cap [2] that looks like a novelty yarmulke run amok but is even more tasteful thanks to the humongous auto parts chain logo I will display as if a bumper sticker affixed itself to my head.”

Hey, nobody said you had to be a Mets fan. You could’ve quit the habit before 7:10 last night. You could’ve looked at the oddball lineup card Terry Collins handed Jeff Nelson…


…and begged off, citing, “Who?” Granted, that might not hold up in a court of Met law, since if you’re a murky-Thursday-night kind of Mets fan, you are expected to know your inventory, even if it’s stock from the back of the Quadruple-A warehouse, yet you’d be perfectly within your rights to ask yourself, “How?” How did it come to be that as the 45th game of a generally pleasing season (disturbing frequency of blowout losses notwithstanding) arrived that we wound up with a batting order we’d pick apart for using fake names if we saw a shot of it in the Original Lifetime Movie presentation of The David Wright Story?

Rottino? Johnson? Hefner? The Mets never had anybody on the team like that the year David hit .400 — did they? Who’s ‘Torres’ supposed to be? And Cedeño leading off? David never played with Roger Cedeño — I call continuity error! Oh, and Hairston batting cleanup? That’s totally unrealistic.

The other story point that seemed off was the umpires deciding the game would start in a downpour, though to be fair, the Mets were never better than when the Padres couldn’t properly handle a wet baseball. Even with that element of nature working for us, we could build only a 1-0 lead before the umps determined they could no longer officiate without an ark.

Things became immensely more entertaining during the rain delay, thanks to the airing of Mets Yearbook: 1968 (Kooz still wants spaghetti for dinner) and Mets Yearbook: 1972 (Willie still disembarks from that cable car), but then somebody with no sense of reverence rolled up the tarp and somebody with no sense of what 68-minute rain delays do to starting pitchers sent Jeremy Hefner back to the mound to replicate his two-inning magic.

It couldn’t be done, which was sad less for the predictable outcome [3] than to think about a pitcher making his first major league start, having had his family fly in from Montana to witness it, and then throwing helplessly as it all unraveled like a cheap giveaway cap. Maybe other starters have been allowed to pitch after an hour and eight minutes on pause, but I couldn’t think of any recent examples (other than Eric Stults, I suppose, but we already knew he’s superhuman [4]). Then I realized the Mets wouldn’t have tried this with any of their shall we say real starters. This was the kind of night when you protect a valuable arm and send some stray Bison onto the field to soak up the innings when the gales of November [5] came early. As Jeremy Hefner was that Bison…well, good luck, kid.

When you buy a ticket, you’re not entitled to a win, but you are entitled to something approximating a legitimate attempt to attain one. The Mets (save for Wright, of course) seemed to approach Thursday as if it was a predestined defeat. So why not keep Hefner in the game? Why not roll out whoever in whatever spots in the lineup? Why not forget how many outs there were in any given inning, as Rob Johnson did in the seventh, leading to two Padre runs that made the score 9-3 and the outcome academic…as if it wasn’t already since how were we supposed to beat the baffling Eric Stults anyway?

To be fair, Johnson’s best position is pitcher [6] and Terry was using him to catch.

Other than Mr. .405, the only Met who came out of this looking better than he went into it was Ike Davis, who it was decided will try to find his mojo not way the hell upstate as popularly suggested [7] but while dancing between the major league raindrops when not sitting against Stultsifying lefties. Before Mets Yearbook ran, Sandy Alderson gave some half-Omar’d explanation to Gary and Ron that everybody likes Ike and who knows if a Buffalo miracle cure would work anyway? Resounding vote of confidence cast, Ike came off the bench and delivered a two-run pinch single in the eighth that cut the Padres’ lead from enormous to merely formidable. Ike’s on a two-game hitting streak now and the ol’ average has risen clear to .164.

So it’s not like the Mets were all wet last night.