Get out your microscopes, because we’re going to examine a very small silver lining.
For much of the spring, as horrific loss followed horrific loss, I advised you to do something else with your summer, even as I knew I wouldn’t take my own advice. I didn’t and I’m glad I didn’t, because the Mets are interesting again — they’ve got superb young pitching, a couple of interesting young hitters and a certain spring in their step.
But the downside of caring … well, it’s caring. And so when Chad Fairchild put his hand up for what sure looked like ball four on Juan Lagares, denying the Mets the tying run, I was furious, despairing, indignant, numb and then started the cycle over again. Obviously that wasn’t Chad Fairchild, but Angel Hernandez in a very lifelike Chad Fairchild mask. Chad Fairchild is obviously the love child of C.B. Bucknor and Jerry Meals. And so on.
Some buts? Oh, why not.
Contrary to the prevailing sentiment in Metsopotamia, I didn’t think Jeff Kellogg’s ruling that Lagares had gone too far on the check swing was a travesty or even obviously incorrect. Very close? Yes, but not a miscarriage of justice. As for the called third strike, I thought it bent around the plate, and once again I was left wailing for baseball to send the all-too-fallible human element packing in favor of ROBOT UMPS NOW. But the closest thing we have to robot umps is PITCHf/x, and PITCHf/x saw that Ronald Belisario pitch as catching a corner (hat tip to James Kannengeiser) meaning our new robot overlords would have sent Lagares back to the bench too. As others have noted, an overhead view might settle it and convince me that I’m wrong. In the absence of such evidence, I’m going old-school and saying that 37 years of watching baseball is worth something, that pitch was outside, and PITCHf/x needs some more tweaks. (Which isn’t meant as more than mild criticism; tweaks are how such systems get better and better.)
And whatever the outcome, ROBOT UMPS NOW. There’s evidence of why nearly every night.
There’s another useful bit of relevant baseball wisdom here, one I may or may not have imparted to my son one night when he was innocent lad of six and I was a bit drunk: When you’re going horseshit they fuck you.
Because the Mets had certainly been going horseshit. They erased a fine start by Jenrry Mejia — another fine start by Jenrry Mejia — with a nightmarish sequence in the bottom of the sixth. First a Carl Crawford bouncer up the middle just eluded Daniel Murphy, who was a little short in terms of range. Then a Mark Ellis bloop just eluded Murphy, who was a little short in terms of height. Marlon Byrd had a play on Crawford at second, but bobbled the ball and the chance was lost. Enter Adrian Gonzalez, who hit a clean single that Juan Lagares threw to third, where it skipped by Wilmer Flores and an out-of-position Mejia for two runs and a blown lead.
Throw in nine Mets left on base, a Carlos Torres gopher ball served up to Nick Punto (of all people), and you’ve got a recipe for a loss, however Chad Fairchild defines a corner. It stinks, but it’s baseball — and at least it left me feeling something. After the head-shaking surrender of the spring, I’ll take it.