I hope everybody had a good Labor Day. Which is another way of saying I hope you didn’t waste a perfectly good holiday witnessing whatever it was the Mets spent their afternoon doing. Terry Collins said it wasn’t a big-league baseball game, and he was right. The Marlins were horrible too, with Marcell Ozuna managing to heave a ball from center into his own dugout and making a number of lazy plays in the field and on the basepaths, but they weren’t as horrible as the Mets.
Few things could have been. The record books show the Mets also made six errors a couple of years back in Colorado, a horror show I vaguely remember. In 1996 they made seven against the Pirates, which I’m glad to say I no longer recall. Certainly today was one of the worst ballgames I’ve ever had to endure. It was bad enough that MLB should burn the tapes, expunge the game from its records and consider contracting both franchises.
Where do we start? David Wright made a horrible error that undid Zack Wheeler when it looked like he’d manage to inch across the fifth-inning mark as starter on the long side. Jeurys Familia has emerged as a wonderful pitcher, but few things are more frightening than seeing him preparing to throw to a base. Travis d’Arnaud has reassured us about his future as a hitter while worrying us about his future as a receiver, sending far too many throws sailing into right-center and letting far too many balls past him at home. Dilson Herrera made two errors in the field himself and dropped a throw at first, though he earns a pass because he’s adjusting to the faster pace and better fields of a game two professional levels above where he was just playing. (Not to mention that he slammed his first career homer today and followed it with a triple, causing me to pause and hector the Mets’ Twitter person about where my HERRERA 2 t-shirt is.) Eric Campbell made a gallant dive for a ball in left that hit him in the palm and kept going. It was just miserable and endless.
With the Mets have crawled off into the rubble they’d created, Emily and Joshua and I met up with friends to watch the Brooklyn Cyclones’ final regular-season game in Staten Island against the Yankees. The Cyclones entered the day tied with the Connecticut Tigers in the race for the New York-Penn League wild card, but that familiar scenario came with an asterisk: Connecticut had the tiebreaker in the season series, so the Cyclones had to beat the Yankees (who’d been eliminated earlier in the week) and have the Lowell Spinners beat the Tigers.
The Cyclones did their part, beating the Yanks 3-1 in a game that wasn’t one for the Staten Island annals — one Yankee got called out for missing first base, which is dunderheaded even by the anything-can-happen standards of short-season A ball. Throughout the game I was on Twitter and milb.com, suddenly very interested in the outcome of a Lowell-Connecticut tilt up in Norwich. The Spinners were up 3-0 and then 3-2 and then 4-2 and then 4-3 and then 5-3 … and then the roof caved in. It was 5-5, and then 6-5 Tigers, the latter score announced gleefully by SI Yanks fans in the grandstand. (The half of the crowd that wasn’t pro-Brooklyn was openly and in fact operatically rooting for Connecticut while essentially ignoring the sub-.500 home team. Stay classy, Yankee fans.)
The Cyclones won, but as the ferry pulled in it was 9-5 Connecticut, and on Twitter the Cyclones themselves sighed and suggested we wait till next year. Which was premature: It was 9-7 Connecticut, and then 9-8 Connecticut, and the Spinners had the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on second with two outs in the ninth as the Statue of Liberty loomed to port, and hey, yaneverknow.
It’s true that you never know. But you can usually guess. Connecticut escaped and the Cyclones’ season was over. Having had my fill of farce, I didn’t really need a side of tragedy. But baseball makes no promises. You might see things that make you question your sanity, like Marlins heaving balls into dugouts and Met relievers heaving them past teammates. You might see runners miss first base. You might wait for reports of an astonishing, death-defying comeback … and you might be brought short by a rally that ends with you mourning what might have been, if only this little thing or that little thing had been different.
Baseball makes no promises. That’s part of what makes it so much fun … and most of what makes it so crushing.