Sometimes you get what you wish for and then it doesn’t turn out so well for you, as it didn’t in this case.
—Earl Monroe, Earl the Pearl: My Story
In the bottom of the fourteenth, I figured I was golden. David Wright was on first, but there were two out. Shaun Marcum was up. No way Shaun Marcum does anything here, I thought, and when he doesn’t do anything, I will have what I’ve been sitting here in Promenade secretly craving. I will have my first fifteenth inning.
Then what happens? Kevin Slowey hits Marcum and now Wright is on second and Justin Turner is at the plate. I once saw Justin Turner take one for the team with the bases loaded in the bottom of the thirteenth. Turner robbed me of a potential fifteenth that endless night in 2011. Now I privately fretted that my shot at setting a Log record for longest game attended was going to wither when Turner did something characteristically clutch.
Silly me. Nobody on the Mets is characteristically clutch anymore. Of course Turner grounded into a fielder’s choice and of course the Mets didn’t score Wright from second and of course they played on.
Of course. I can say “of course” free and clear of overwrought woe-is-Mets-fan self-pity, because if you saw Saturday afternoon’s and evening’s twenty innings of still-life baseball, then you know there was an inevitability to the end result of the Mets sticking around for six hours and twenty-five minutes that simply trudged by.
But I got my record, so I should be satisfied. Funny, I’m not. Once the giddiness of sitting in on history wore off — which coincided with Daniel Murphy lining out for the, I’m guessing, hundredth Met out of the day — I transitioned from fascinated to fuming.
Same old Mets fan.
Four fourteenth innings in my past, in 1998, 1999, 2008 and 2010, but those seem puny and insignificant now that I’ve been where homestanding Mets fans had only been twice before. Fifteenth? Sixteenth? Seventeenth? Why ever stop? Call up Ed Kranepool from Buffalo! Play Willie Mays at shortstop! Turn a triple play! Hand Ed Sudol another lineup card! Get Dave Schneck a twelfth at-bat! Let’s see if we can pick off Bake McBride finally! (And won’t Hank and Ryan Webb have some stories to trade come Thanksgiving?)
I’ll let you in on another secret besides my quietly rooting for the Mets to not resolve this game prior to the fifteenth once it became apparent it was going to take way more than ten to get anything done. Twenty innings with the Mets and Marlins, whoever wound up winning, cannot be characterized as “fun,” but it was no great burden to sit through every last bit of it (save perhaps for the last bits of it). This wasn’t Colorado in the cold or Flushing in the rain with suspension of hostilities looming or the joy of Marlins Park fifteen innings after dark. This was a beautiful day on the heels of a tropical storm’s offshoot that kept the Mets out of action for the previous 63 or so hours. When the PA embraced the five o’clock folly of this extended mix of offensive torpor and talentless exhibitionism and featured Chuck Berry’s “No Particular Place To Go,” I was sold.
I indeed had nowhere else I had to be. I had nothing to take cover from. My phone battery ran down as it tends to in extra innings, so I was cut off from all non-Mets civilization. I had no immediate companionship after my visiting Oregonian friend Andee had to vamoose to catch a plane once the tenth was over, which was too bad for both of us, but in what became Saturday’s Game 2.0, I stretched out among the ample empty seats and relished my veritable solitude. It was just me, the inept Mets, the stupid Marlins and assorted kindred spirits making use of a public space. I was in no rush to leave. Neither club was in any hurry to score. The sun shone, I had an unopened bottle of water, I was plenty full from my annual pregame trip to Shake Shack…I was set for a fifteenth inning and whatever it brought.
It brought nothing, natch. These were the Mets and Marlins. They are the co-champions of nothingness. The Mets and Marlins threw dazzling young-gun aces at each other, delivered exactly what you’d want to see from Matt Harvey and Jose Fernandez and it was still nothingness. Were Harvey (who left with a tight back, god help us if it’s anything worse) and Fernandez really as good as they looked from above home plate in 514? Or could Terry Collins and Mike Redmond march a parade of random relievers to the mound and achieve much the same outcome?
Pretty much. After a fashion we were down to Shaun Marcum and Kevin Slowey, two starting pitchers who became those guys who are instructed to go out there and suck up innings until their appropriate arms detach from their shoulders. Each did marvelous work — or they were nothing special but looked fantastic given who they were facing. Who can tell with the Mets and Marlins? And who could take an affair slathered in absurdity seriously enough to dissect what any pitcher was throwing in the bottom of an eighteenth inning?
Holy fudge, I was at a baseball game that had an eighteenth inning, among nineteen others.
The Marlins would win, which doesn’t make them any less awful. They beat the Mets. That’s what the Marlins do. My advice is to stop treating their savantish knack for defeating our team and nobody else as anything out of the ordinary and just chalk it up as one of those things. You’ll feel less frustrated than you already do.
The Mets would lose, which doesn’t make them any more awful. If anything the already-awful Mets improved as a result of their twenty-inning loss to the approximately-as-awful Marlins because it nudged them to delete Rick Ankiel five seconds after it was over. Saturday wasn’t Ankiel’s fault. Saturday was everybody’s fault. But boy was Ankiel not helping. He was Dave Kingman in 1983 after Keith Hernandez came over, overswinging and completely missing. May he enjoy whatever he does with the rest of his days. If any of them are spent playing major league baseball after proving useless to the current editions of the Houston Astros and New York Mets, you can assume he has pictures of some GM doing something illegal, immoral or embarrassing.
Ankiel’s out. Can we get rid of most everybody else, too? Probably not. The answer to Ankiel is the return of Kirk Nieuwenhuis, supposedly better prepped this time around. Whatever. Send Kirk out there to share center with Juan Lagares. Juan Lagares started against a tough righty Saturday and, well, the Mets lost in twenty innings, but Lagares played smart defense and drove in the single, solitary run for the home team. He was overmatched as the day wore on, but so was each and every Met not named David Wright. We’ll suffer with Lagares and Nieuwenhuis in the short term, but at least there’ll be a theoretical point to their growing pains.
Snap judgments one makes after twenty innings of this:
Buck can go. Davis can go. Duda can more or less go but won’t. Turner is a cheerful sort, so he can stay. Quintanilla’s not supposed to be here anyway. Murphy has surpassed ragingly adequate as a defender but ran the bases like retro Angel Pagan in the twelfth when the Mets had their last, best chance of winning (with eight innings remaining, for crissake). But Daniel Murphy is the second-best everyday player the Mets have. As established the other day, Marlon Byrd is the third-best, and he’s Marlon Byrd.
I offer this ad hoc roll call because as I whiled away the hours in the sun, now and then offering an unsolicited comment to one of my two Promenade neighbors, it occurred to me that I had no faith whatsoever in anybody getting the big hit or even accidentally driving in the winning run. Other than Wright, that is, and, because what’s baseball without a touch of hope, Lagares. Murphy I’d have faith in on a good day, but this wasn’t a good day. The rest of them are Ankiel-plus. Catch me on a better day and I might not be as harsh. But the Mets are twenty-inning losers more on merit than by chance.
And stop with the bunting already. Terry can go, too.
The bullpen that succeeded Harvey and preceded Marcum was real good. Or they faced the Marlins. Whichever, it wasn’t their fault. David Aardsma looked Aa-OK as he knocked Don Aase from the top of the Mets’ all-time alphabetical chart. That and getting in on a fifteenth through twentieth inning should have made today a personal success. I live for such historical oddities. Plus the nice weather. And the leg room. Lots and lots of leg room. I like nice weather and stretching out.
I didn’t get sore until it was over, and even then it was good-natured “can you believe this team?” pique. I didn’t mutter about wasting six hours and twenty-five minutes on them because that was my choice and the day was so pleasant in so many ways. I don’t think it was until I arrived at Jamaica and saw dozens of temporarily horsy types returning from the Belmont Stakes. I’ve lived within theoretically easy reach of Belmont Park all my life and have, when not detained by a twenty-inning Mets-Marlins game, watched its big race on TV most every year. Yet I had absolutely no idea people dressed up for this thing. I mean dress up like they’re extras at Roger Sterling’s Derby Day party. And it’s so clearly a put-on. They’re not swells. They’re not even degenerate railbirds putting on the dog. They’re like 19 and pretending to be genuine gentlemen and real ladies. With hats.
And? And they all looked like they had a nice time at a sporting event. Nothing makes me angrier after a Mets loss than discovering people are happy after a sporting event or looking forward to a different sporting event from the Mets loss I’m still brooding over. I don’t even like the non-Mets teams I usually like when I’m coming home from a Mets loss. I don’t like when people at a Mets game the Mets are losing discuss other sports. My universe is the Mets in those hours (in those hours, in particular, I mean). My universe is thus shattered by a Mets loss when I’ve so committed to it. How dare these children in their white linens and pastel sundresses laugh it up when the Mets have lost in twenty innings?
But that was later, after Marcum finally gave up a run and the Mets couldn’t short-sheet Steve Cishek. Before that, it was all as hunky-dory as twenty innings of the 2013 Mets could be if you’re predisposed to that sort of thing.
Which I apparently am.