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Well, That Sucked

Winning streaks end, from the innumerable one-gamers to the historic 11-gamers. One day we’ll have an even longer one. It’ll end too.

There are all sorts of ways to lose a ballgame — insane Gotterdammerungs that end with one team barely standing, nail-biters that don’t go your way, slothful snoozefests that never get started, relievers-hiding-under-the-stands fiascos that can’t end soon enough.

Tonight’s game? It was lost for a pair of intertwined reasons: Jacob deGrom [1] wasn’t very good, while Michael Pineda [2] was.

DeGrom’s pitches were consistently too high, and as a result they went too far, with Mark Teixeira [3] depositing two fastballs down the right-field line and into the stands at Yankee Stadium. Despite my crabby tweet about parks that ought to have major-league dimensions, both would have been gone at Citi Field too, though Jacoby Ellsbury [4]‘s third-inning solo homer would have been a moderately difficult catch in the right-center alley. And even the cleverest complaints about the Yankees’ ludicrous park can’t make up for the unhappy truth that the Mets were taking aim at the same fences the Yankees were.

The difference was the Mets weren’t reaching them, and they weren’t reaching them because Pineda was fabulous, carving hitters up with a truly evil slider. Kevin Plawecki [5]‘s at-bat in the top of the fifth was simply cruel. Plawecki arrived at the plate with one out and Mets on first and third. The Mets were down 6-0, it’s true, but an 11-game winning streak allows you to fantasize a bit. It was early … OK, it was relatively early, the Mets’ only out of the inning had come when Teixeira made a nice play to rob Daniel Murphy [6] of a double, and it was Yankee Stadium. Pull one over that silly porch and it would be 6-3 with 14 outs left to play with, and who knows?

Pineda got a first strike on Plawecki with a darting, vicious slider. Then he threw another one that was even more hellacious. Plawecki straightened up and you could forgive him if he was thinking, “They sure don’t throw shit like that in Triple-A.” The situation was still the same, but Plawecki was doomed. He knew it and I knew it and you did too. He was pre-out, with the only question how the sentence would come down. He took a pitch, fouled one off, and Pineda erased him on another unhittable slider, one that bore down on the center of the plate at the knee and then swerved sharply at Plawecki’s foot.

Sometimes your pitcher is overamped or doesn’t have the feel or things just don’t come together. It happens — hell, it happens 25 times a year or so. Sometimes the other team’s pitcher has all his pitches working at once and can hit a dime over and over again at 60 feet six inches. That happens 20-odd times a year too. Sometimes these things coincide and nothing but loyalty holds you there until the loss is official.

I found exactly two positives from the night. One was the flawless debut of Hansel Robles [7], Met No. 992 in our fitfully illustrious history, who arrived with nobody out and men on first and second and none other than Alex Rodriguez [8] awaiting him. A-Rod reached on an infield single to load the bases, but no problem: Robles coaxed a foul pop from Teixeira, gunned down Brian McCann [9] with a fastball, and got old friend Carlos Beltran [10] with a slider. The game’s not that easy, but no reason to tell the newest Met that. He’ll find out soon enough; for tonight, he earned the right to be happy.

The other positive? It was that the Mets got waxed by the Yankees and I was annoyed because they lost [11] and not because of who they lost to.

The Yankees are a perfectly fine 10-7 and tied for first place. (Plus, you know, rings and shit.) But they’re old and fragile, they play boring baseball, their announcers are terrible, their park’s a corporate mausoleum, and their self-awareness of their own undeniably rich history has curdled into an embarrassing haste to frantically dry-hump anything they can monetize. Bernie Williams [12], a nice guy and respectable member of the Hall of Very Good, signed a minor-league deal and then retirement papers this afternoon despite having not thrown a baseball in anger since before the world first saw an iPhone. He threw out the first pitch and will be back next month so the Yankees can a) sell more tickets; and b) retire his number, which I think even Yankee fans would admit isn’t a slam-dunk. I kind of hoped the Mets would bring out, say, Rusty Staub [13] to announce he was retiring too, but they chose the high road.

Relatively harmless, I suppose, but the odd counterpart was this: If it had been Alex Rodriguez hitting two homers tonight — and thereby tying Willie Mays [14] for fourth on the all-time list — some Steinbrenner would have pulled a fire alarm and evacuated the stadium so the Yankees didn’t have to admit it was happening. This is part of a bizarre legal battle between the team and its best player. The Yankees have had to be shamed [15] into even noting in agate type that A-Rod is nearing one of those baseball numbers whose significance nearly every fan can instantly identify: 660 means Willie Mays, and if you’ve got a player doing anything that puts him in the same conversation as WILLIE FUCKING MAYS it’s notable, even if you’re pissed about steroids and everyone agrees A-Rod is kind of a tool and most importantly of all you don’t want to pay him $6 million.

But look, everybody — there’s Bernie Williams.

You know what? Whatever. The Yankees have always been a bizarre mix of vainglorious and petty, but in the last couple of years they’ve become a parody, a funhouse-mirror version of themselves. Rather than be enraged by them, I just find them embarrassing. We lost to them and I shrugged.

Here’s hoping we win tomorrow — and then win the next 11 games after that.

And if not? Well, it happens.