Every year it seems we play one team far more often than we play anybody else. Or maybe every week it seems that way. Four games in San Diego felt like an eternity, and it was long ago proven the Padres don’t actually exist. Either way, WTF’s with having to play the Braves every five minutes in 2013?
This afternoon will mark the 14th time the Mets will have thrown down against the Braves over their last 81 contests. That’s more than one of every
four six games in a half-season of baseball dedicated to taking on a single opponent. That’s roughly one Braves game per week if one chose to apportion them as such.
Which I don’t. I see the Braves coming and going. Suspended games. Makeup games. Walkoff games. Games in which horrific injuries are sustained, games in which first wins are gained, games in which first hits are obtained. And all the while, Braves, Braves and more Braves.
Enough already with the Braves.
Not enough already with beating the Braves, which the Mets somehow held on to do Tuesday night behind Zack Wheeler starting; Scott Rice, Gonzalez Germen and LaTroy Hawkins relieving; Eric Young and Daniel Murphy running; Marlon Byrd and Ike Davis (!) slugging; and Travis d’Arnaud naud longer going 0-for-evah. Naud complaints there. If the Mets could be said to have some contender’s number, you might say 25 guys in Flushing are carrying around a scrap of paper that has scribbled upon it a 404 area code. While the Braves have blazed to an insurmountable first-place lead, they are saddled with a losing — 7-8 — record against our intermittently scrappy ’tropolitans. You might go as far to say that the one team Atlanta wouldn’t want any part of in October would be the Mets if the stars were to align, an apocalypse were to overcome the planet, Shawon Dunston were to be activated and Wheeler could take the ball in Games One, Four and Seven.
You might, even if it would be a stretch worthy of Willie McCovey, but I like having something to feel good about amid the Braves’ march to their first National League East title in eight years, which, incidentally, looms more like their 15th divisional crown in 23 seasons. Yeah, that sounds more accurate. Has a team that’s failed to finish first for seven consecutive seasons ever seemed less deserving of “finally” getting back on top?
If you had no dog in the fight, you could imagine generating empathetic cheers for, say, the Cubs when they made their first postseason in 39 years (though it was a disgusting episode to us, since we were the ones they leapt over to do so in 1984). You could think in 1995, hey, the Yankees haven’t been to the playoffs in 14 years, there are a lot of fans who’ve hung in there with some bad teams, good for them (I didn’t think that, mind you; those are dangerous thoughts, as 1996 would prove). Completely devoid of attachments, you could look at the 2007 Phillies, out of the money every season since 1993 and…we’re not gonna do that, but you know what I mean.
But the Braves? Let them go wander in the desert for another generation. The Braves don’t know how to suffer. Their N.L. East dynasty crumbled after 2005 and they were perfectly fine by 2010. They collapsed in a heap worthy of the 1964 Phillies (and 2007 Mets) in 2011 and were back on their feet, angst-free, in 2012. They lost the first-ever Wild Card Game amid one of the most controversial postseason calls in recent memory and they picked themselves up, dusted themselves off and got on with their business. In the face of the alleged Washington Nationals behemoth, they raced out of the gate this year to a 12-1 start. Their high-priced sibling outfielders fizzled? They played indifferent ball for three months? They saw their inspirational ace go down in look-away pain? Their stone-handed second baseman used his personal days to go in for Lasik surgery? They had to replace their Hall of Fame third baseman?
It doesn’t at all matter. They’re the Borg or the Terminator or whatever science fiction thing that is grim and unrelenting, at least until the leaves start to change colors. Somebody always finds their number come October. But they sure do know how to blot out a summer.
By Friday night, the Braves will have departed Citi Field and Social Media Night will have arrived. Buy a ticket, get a Jay Horwitz bobblehead, find out if the Mets have the Tigers’ number, listen to Third Eye Blind and, mostly, lend a hand to one of the best causes imaginable: Hope Shines for Shannon, which is raising funds to help Mets communications person extraordinaire Shannon Forde in her fight against breast cancer. Please check it out here.