I do believe the Mets just got themselves barnstormed. Big, fancy hittin’ show done pulled into town and rolled over our humble, local baseball enterprise. Raised lots of money and entertained a whole lot of folks, so I guess it was all in a good cause.
It’s better to look at the weekend just past — particularly its final inning — as a Globetrotters @ Generalsesque exhibition series than to divine from it any competitive conclusions. There was nothing competitive about any of it. If you look at what the Detroit Tigers did to the New York Mets Friday, Saturday and Sunday, you won’t want to go back to the ballpark ever.
Late summer’s considerable charms and the company of my buddy Joe notwithstanding, what a lousy afternoon to spend at Citi Field. Miguel Cabrera homered so deep into the Acela Club, Rawlings Splattered Prosciutto is now an official Market Table Selection. Dillon Gee held steady against incredible odds after that top-of-the-first keynote address by the delegate from Michigan — the Mets even led briefly as Travis d’Arnaud typeset a Rick Porcello pitch in all caps — but the ultimate outcome never didn’t feel inevitable.
That’s not lazy Mets fan fatalism taking the place of incisive analysis just so I can finish writing this in time for Breaking Bad. Prior to the top of the ninth, I had watched the Tigers spank baseballs and the Mets who delivered them for 26 innings…and pitching’s our strong suit. The only missing element from the pastiche of paw prints was a passel of Tiger runs. They’d scored but 13 times on 34 hits from the outset of the Matsuzaka experiment Friday to the middle of the eighth Sunday. I attributed their relative restraint to most of their players being aged, immobile and infirm.
But then — after the home team’s adorable attack of former and apparently current Met Lucas Duda walking, being bunted to second and taking third on not much of a wild pitch somehow failed to light up the various Citi Field matrix boards — the Tigers got what they came for.
Ohmigod, did they get what they came for. It was as if the basepaths had one of those nauseous headaches that you know is only going to go away if you reluctantly allow yourself to throw up. LaTroy Hawkins and Scott Atchison gave the Tiger bats a sudden case of bulimia, simultaneously making those of us in the stands not rooting for the Tigers want to puke. In a flash, the game went from a teasingly tense 4-3 deficit that was going to bother us all the way home once we lost to a cleansing 11-3 rout that made it clear we were never going to win.
No, it didn’t feel good to watch the Mets get trampled by seven Tiger runs on seven Tiger hits and perhaps an actual rabid Tiger, but at least it reflected reality. The tally for the weekend wound up being Detroit with 20 runs on 41 hits versus New York’s 4 runs on 17 hits. And even the cumulative score makes the weekend appear closer than it actually was.
Given the Tigers’ other-league status, this one didn’t hurt all that much. They barnstormed into town, they made us ooh and aah and they left politely. Perpetually annoyed by the Braves and preparing to be incited by the sight of the Phillies, I’m not going to waste an ounce of animus on the Tigers (I even made sure to thank of one of their well-behaved fans for his team’s good deed last October). The Mets on the other hand…except for being stuck with being stuck on them, I can’t stand them anymore again.
Duda’s rematerialization from the agate type of the Basic Agreement rated warm applause from many in the crowd, probably for the same reason I once heard my fellow theatergoers give Mark Linn-Baker a hearty hand: they recognized him from having seen him on TV a lot. Duda’s familiar, but I wasn’t in the mood to welcome him back. I was more like Terence Mann with the insecticide sprayer in Field Of Dreams when Ray Kinsella shows up unannounced at Mann’s apartment in Boston:
“Out! Back to April and May’s horrible 17-29 start! Back! There’s no place for you here in the future! Get back while you still can!”
The same warning goes to Ruben Tejada if he’s thinking about showing his face in Flushing anytime soon.
To be fair, I also never want to look at erstwhile Renaissance Met Omar Quintanilla ever again. Have you ever seen a shortstop make more unnecessary leaps for line drives 20 feet over his head? He will strain something before he catches something. His seatmate for the next bus out of town can be Justin Turner, taking up space at third, jogging to first and too nice for me to actively dislike as a person but not good enough for me to endure as a player. Actually, I’m getting cranky about just about everybody who isn’t a consensus building block for Better Days Ahead. I’m in that dangerous mode of loving the Mets so much that I’m on the verge of despising almost everybody in a Mets uniform.
I can deal with a random opponent being as good as the Tigers were this weekend. I can’t take much more of the Mets being this bad. I mean, yeah, I’ll take it, because they’re the Mets but…uh…
Ah, you know what I mean.