Back in the day, the Mets confined most of their April home games to afternoons. The thinking went something like this: it gets cold here at night. You might even say it gets bitter.
Thursday the Mets went back to the day, a scheduling decision we “20,561” on hand (an accurate figure if you count inner selves) couldn’t help but appreciate. The newly installed temperature readout on the scoreboard indicated we were blessed by as many as 63 degrees. Seventy-two hours after shivering my Schatzeder off, I spent several innings in shirtsleeves.
The warmth represented an outstanding antidote to what I was watching. The Mets were about as bad as they were the night before, but this presentation felt better, not bitter. You could get mad at them for losing 8-2 and starting the season 0-3…but it was sunny and 63, and the only reason you got to bask in those conditions for a few hours was the Mets were foresightful enough to plant a baseball game in the broadest of daylight.
So that part was good.
Said baseball game, however, peaked early and not very often. The friendly sun did a number on Denard Span in the first inning, serving to set up two Met runs. Zack Wheeler’s hard stuff as viewed from spectacular Delta Club seats procured by dear friend Sharon Chapman (and enhanced by her and John “Metstradamus” Coppinger’s presence) held its own against a Nationals lineup that, from a Citi Field demon perspective, seems to be constructed of nine Troy Tulowitzkis. But Zack never quite had command and Ryan Zimmerman refused to retire, which really put a crimp in the part of the day that wasn’t weather or eating or conversation. Wheeler threw 114 pitches in six innings.
The bullpen, of course, threw too many if it threw even one. Tough to pin the third act in this week’s Trilogy of Trounce squarely on our relief remainders, however, since the Mets effectively held their fire against emergency starter Tanner Roark. It was good to see Curtis Granderson’s hellacious swings convert a couple of strikes into doubles and welcome Daniel Murphy back from his unintentional inflammation of the Troglodytic set, but the club’s final eight inning-bottoms encompassed precisely four hits, three walks, no runs and zero fight.
Maybe I should be as prickly about losing Thursday afternoon as I was Wednesday night. I wasn’t at the game Wednesday night but I could taste the bile through the TV. It’s hard to watch these walking-dead Mets stumble around in the dark and not generate bitterness toward them. But you get a sweet afternoon like Thursday, you don’t get that riled up over getting swept. Like the players you’re close enough to sense a vibe from (these were really good seats), you just accept it. You say, ehh, the Nationals are deeply talented, we have a bizarrely unbalanced roster, somebody goes on the DL practically every day, management never did get around to improving the bullpen, and you forget to be disgusted. One Nationals sweep blends into another. Last September becomes this April. The hapless home start of 2011 — when the incumbent brain trust was new so it was granted the first in its endless series of passes and mulligans — comes back around to be reincarnated in 2014. You are cognizant of all that won’t click but you don’t let it do an Anthony Rendon on your psyche, which is to say you don’t let it get the best of you.
Keep telling yourself it’s only three games even if you’ve been subject to hundreds and hundreds like these over the past five seasons. Keep telling yourself something special is under construction despite all the same old debris you see blowing around. Better yet, take off your jacket and feel the sun on your arms.
It’s the brightest thing going in Flushing these days.