There they go, off to a farm upstate, and I don’t mean Binghamton. Your 2013 New York Mets are no longer mathematically alive for postseason consideration. Spiritually they never showed much of a pulse, either, give or take a delusion or two that sprouted amidst the heat of late July. This season still somehow has 18 unplayed games packed into its tail end despite having seemed to have come to an abrupt halt the moment the phrase “partially torn” entered our reluctant conversation. There are no goals left for this team of ours other than to survive it with their hamstrings and innings limits intact.
Passing the decrepit Phillies for third place would be nice, but c’mon, let’s be realistic. We’re not really deep enough at this stage of the schedule to outdo decrepitude.
On the night the Mets succumbed to ensure they will commence 2014 eight years removed from their most recent playoff berth, Zack Wheeler wriggled out of a couple of jams and gave up but one solo home run to Davey Johnson’s hard-hitting, late-charging Nationals. It was the kind of performance that had it been surrounded by the slightest hint of life you’d take in a second as a sure sign of better days ahead, 3-0 defeat notwithstanding. If young Zack keeps throwing and keeps learning and keeps his UCL out of harm’s way, it can only be to the good in the future.
But on nights like Wednesday — which is all the Mets have anymore — it is nigh impossible to be encouraged by anything other than the fact that their 18 unplayed games are due to be reduced to 17 later this afternoon.
Wheeler almost impeding Washington’s still slim chances. Lagares putting down a very sweet bunt for a base hit in the ninth. Den Dekker and d’Arnaud allowing us the slightest of peeks at their respective potentials. Flores, if his right ankle is taped tightly enough. Vic Black’s hard stuff, more successful some outings than others. Evidence that Ruben Tejada wasn’t designated for oblivion at the ripe old age of 23. You want to see the kids in September? You got ’em this September. Yet it’s still not encouraging. How can you be dropped smack into the middle of this particular month and watch the Mets continually score nothing in front of nobody and say, “Hey, I can really feel the excitement building here!”?
The most sensitive of seismographs would be incapable of picking up an iota of enthusiasm in as morbidly lost a September as the Mets have authored in the Citi Field era — and that includes the first wretched one from relentlessly dismal 2009. Since this month began, either the Mets get mercilessly clobbered or they engage in faux pitchers’ duels, low-scoring affairs in which a Wheeler or a Gee leaves it all on the mound and whoever’s throwing for the other side outdoes our guy regardless. Our guy goes up against major leaguers. The opposing pitcher gets to face the Mets lineup. Case inevitably closed in the opposition’s favor.
Into this epic darkness, the Mets puzzlingly air between-innings come-ons for 2014 season tickets. “Enjoying what you’ve been seeing tonight? Now imagine paying for it 81 times next year!” Wait until the dead of winter and lure us while we’re vulnerable and have forgotten what Mets baseball actually looks like. Don’t run commercials for Mets season tickets during a series that is the opposite of a commercial for Mets season tickets.
Besides, aren’t the Mets set for customers? Every game this week has drawn a paid attendance of “20,000,” which is great for a team on the cusp of official elimination with 18 games to go. Capacity at Citi Field is around 42,000, so as you’ve been able to tell if you’ve watched any of these games, that means just about every other seat is filled throughout the stadium. If the Mets claim they’re drawing “20,000” now, by next year they’ll surely be jamming six figures into their brickly confines.
Finally, the Mets didn’t wear the first responder caps after BP, distancing themselves by another year from their small but meaningful heartfelt tribute in 2001 when during games they wore ballcaps representing firefighters, police officers and members of all the agencies that acted unfathomably heroically in the face of tragedy. David Aardsma says he was “contemplating” wearing his FDNY cap during the game, “but they took it from us long before we could wear it.” Totally justifiable move by MLB, since it is indeed licensing agreements that make this country great. No doubt the sight of Mets caps being used in competition Wednesday night had Mets fans everywhere rushing onto mets.com’s shopping page and clicking the icon marked “CAPS”.
It was to return previously purchased Mets caps, probably, but commerce is commerce.