Last Sunday I was at Citi Field for the Futures Game, and for the first time in forever I kept score, thinking that a decade from now the scorecard might be pretty amazing, with unknown last names whose first names I didn’t know having turned into acclaimed last names whose first names I didn’t need to mention. (Here’s hoping Syndergaard and Montero and Nimmo are three of them.)
The game was fun, except for the fact that it would have been cooler temperature-wise if it had been played on the surface of the sun. It also featured the rather odd experience of being in Citi Field and looking up at the big video board to see highlights … of the New York Mets playing a baseball game somewhere else. I laughed, but I was also a little wistful. Despite their frequent stumbles and valleys and perplexities in the first half, I was about to be deprived of my baseball team for the better part of a week, and it made me sad.
Monday, Home Run Derby. A ridiculous though entertaining spectacle, the baseball equivalent of eating an entire bag of Doritos while watching a sitcom. By the end you realize that yes, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, even home runs. There was David Wright, acquitting himself reasonably well as a hitter and even better as a captain and quasi-MC, but no Mets baseball.
Tuesday, the All-Star Game. Tom Seaver hamming it up in the beginning, Matt Harvey blazing his way out of trouble in the first, David Wright accounting for a third of the NL’s offense. Well-deserved accolades for the Mets as gracious hosts. Shame that graciousness had to be displayed celebrating a Yankee. The overstuffed game ended about an hour after I stopped paying much attention to it, and of course I immediately was sad it was over. Because now we’d gone from not much Mets to no Mets whatsoever.
Wednesday, no Mets at all. Boo.
Thursday, drive to Maine for brief family vacation. You know what would liven up these endless hours on I-95? Some Mets! No Mets. BOOOOO.
Tonight … METS! THEY’RE BACK! THERE ARE PHILLIES IN THE BATTER’S BOX AND JEREMY HEFNER ON THE MOUND AND LET’S GO! LET’S GO GO GO! AND …
Ugh. Rats. Ouch. Oogh. Gah. Shucks. Sigh.
Maybe those days of Mets withdrawal weren’t such a hardship after all.
Poor Hefner just didn’t have it, which has happened to him before against the Phils. You could kind of squint and convince yourself that the first inning was an aberration, marred by an apparent misplay by Kirk Nieuwenhuis and some bad luck. You could tell yourself that even more so after Hefner got through the second unscathed. But then the third, oh man. Maybe Philadelphia had just needed an inning to rest.
Hefner’s fastball was a few ticks slow. His slider all but screamed hit me. He was awful. The nice thing, if there is a nice thing, is that Hefner’s come far enough to earn the occasional stinker, when nothing’s working and the pitcher’s left out there naked and hoping that a completely empty radar map will suddenly turn brilliant red with freak thunderstorms.
I turned MLB At Bat off when it was 11-0, thinking my parents and wife would enjoy lobster on the dock in Boothbay Harbor more without someone squinting at his phone and muttering vile things. But of course I kept checking, and brightened when it somehow became 11-3, because what’s two grand slams between friends? But then it was immediately 13-3, which meant that I was less excited when that turned into 13-4 and then 13-6 and finally a cosmetically less awful 13-8. You can clean out an entire county worth of MACs and apply lipstick until your elbow hurts and you keep slipping and falling on empty tubes, but underneath all that glop you’ll still find a pig.