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Garbage Time Is Here Again

Watching Daisuke Matsuzaka get spanked the Tigers, I found myself depressed.

I wasn’t depressed because Matsuzaka got pummeled, though that wasn’t much fun — the Mets put up a bit of a fight early, then trudged through the rest of the game. Matsuzaka said after the game that he found himself after the Tigers’ initial barrage, and the play-by-play acknowledges that the results were much better, but I think it’s a charitable interpretation. The Tigers look like a superb, playoff-bound team, and it’s a hallmark of such teams that they play about as hard as they have to in unequal August contests. The Tigers put it in cruise control and were content to occasionally check the rearview mirror for Mets creeping up on their bumper, which the Mets never did [1].

And I wasn’t depressed because Miguel Cabrera hit an enormous home run that he then pimped like some mutant offspring of Carlton Fisk and Joe Carter, with an outside-the-dugout celebration that lasted a good 45 seconds. That made me mad, because no one on the Mets, in the ballpark or even on Twitter seemed terribly bothered by said display. I get that Cabrera is a majestic, monstrous hitter, but you don’t need to be Tim McCarver going on about Bob Gibson to wonder if a pitcher ought not to put up with this level of disrespect. Get off my lawn, Miguel Cabrera. Get off my lawn, modernity.

It wasn’t the presence of Matsuzaka that bothered me, either. After I got over the initial surprise, it struck me as a perfectly sound, potentially smart move. The Mets don’t want to disrupt their young hurlers who are approaching innings limits and see some value in letting their minor-league teams pursue their postseasons at full strength. I agree with both those ideas. Matsuzaka is accomplished enough and young enough that letting him audition is a low-risk, potentially high-reward venture. All good. And did I really want to see, say, the itinerant Chris Schwinden return to get pounded every fifth day? That would be no.

I think what’s depressed me is that the season’s truly over. No more debuts of note. No goals to reach that are really worth fighting for, not with the wild card long gone and the chances of reaching .500 slim at best. I know Max Scherzer faces Matt Harvey tomorrow, but ehh. It’s a curiosity. The only time I’ve been excited by the prospect of playing the Tigers was October 2006.

Daisuke Matsuzaka makes sense, with his tarnished glories and his maybe-healing elbow. But he makes sense because the season has shrunk to innings to be eaten, and games to be crossed off. It was inevitable that we’d get to this moment, but I’m still not happy to realize it’s arrived.