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Trashy Yet Fun

Let’s just make this clear: Saturday afternoon’s Mets-Marlins game was garbage.

The Mets put the leadoff man on in seven of the first eight innings (and eight of nine overall) but somehow managed to be down 3-2 with just five outs remaining. Bartolo Colon [1] was crummy but mostly got away with it because the Marlins couldn’t get out of their own way; Hansel Robles [2] was crummy and yet again did not get away with it.

And then there was the Wilmer Flores [3]Kevin Plawecki [4] follies of the second inning: with the Mets down 1-0, the Marlins had the bases loaded with one out. Pitcher Justin Nicolino [5] smacked a sharp grounder to Flores at third. Rather than go for the round-the-horn double play, Flores came home for the force. (He said later he didn’t have a good grip.) An understandably startled Plawecki caught the ball, but his foot was next to home plate rather than on it, as is recommended for force plays. Instead of being out of the inning, the Mets were down 2-0 and Terry Collins [6] looked like a man sentenced to the rack.

Plawecki led off the third, which at least allowed him to escape extended tut-tutting from coaches, and seemed to have redeemed himself with a double … until he got picked off. Before rising and slinking away, Plawecki lowered the bill of his helmet in the dirt and lay there for a moment, perhaps contemplating the void. He then fanned in his next two at-bats, leaving three Mets on base and making me recall Anthony Recker [7] having one of the worst nights I can recall [8] for a catcher in this same hideous ballpark. Not exactly what Plawecki had in mind with Rene Rivera [9] on the verge of snatching away his job.

But if the game wasn’t exactly the stuff of instructional videos, it was also a reminder that garbage baseball can still be kind of fun, the way mainlining Oreos by the glow of late-night TV can seem like a great idea at the time. The Marlins have problems of their own, and allowed their hapless opponents to hang around. In the bottom of the sixth, with runners on second and third and two out, Ichiro Suzuki [10] lashed what seemed certain to be his 2,966th hit to left-center. It was going to be 5-2 Marlins … except Juan Lagares [11] flung himself through the air, looking like a man making a racing dive into the pool, to snatch the ball before it could touch down. Inning over and dreariness averted, somehow.

In the eighth, with the Mets down 3-2, some players badly in need of pick-me-ups came through. Michael Conforto [12], who had spent the night determinedly ignoring the inside fastballs that have bedeviled him, fought through a tough at-bat and singled up the middle off David Phelps [13] to bring home James Loney [14] and tie the game. With Conforto on second and two out, Matt Reynolds [15] lined Phelps’s first pitch over the head of Miguel Rojas [16] for his first career RBI and a Mets lead.

All of that was fun [17] — and the kind of fun the Mets will need more of to survive this current stretch. (Oh, and they somehow picked up another game on the Nats.) But this being Miami, there of course had to be a scare in the ninth and assorted annoyances at other times.

One of those annoyances was self-inflicted: is sending Jacob deGrom [18] up to pinch-hit really wiser than keeping Rivera idle in case of an injury? Jake entertained himself, which I suppose is nice, but this seems like a case where the premium on the insurance is so high that one should just accept that life comes with risks. (Though given Plawecki’s night he might well have wound up eaten by piranhas leaping out of the Loria fish tank sometime in the 14th.)

The other annoyance is as I type no one’s quite sure how badly Lagares hurt his thumb on that heroic dive. He came out of the game, but further information wasn’t available because there’s no doctor on site at New Soilmaster. I assume this is just more evidence that Jeffrey Loria is a despicable cheapskate whose interests don’t extend to the basic duties expected of a major-league owner. And if that’s not the case I don’t really care, because Loria deserves such suspicions.

The Marlins are a deplorable shell game practiced on the decent people of Miami and all but designed to drive them away from the game, a travesty that Major League Baseball has aided and abetted for decades. Every commissioner can invoke the best interests of the game in taking action; a conservative reading of baseball’s best interests surely includes banishing Loria from any further association with the sport, up to and including wheedling change in a stadium parking lot.

My near-feral hatred for the Marlins (which, to be clear, has nothing to do with their long-suffering, shamefully disenfranchised fans) is well-known here [19] (see other eruptions here [20] and here [21]), but every series against them seems to intensify it until seemingly innocent items of conversation bring up bile. For example, at one point, SNY’s trivia question was to identify the Marlins’ all-time wins leader.

The long answer: “I shall sort through the sordid history of this garish screw job disguised as a franchise and try to remember which starting pitcher was most capable before being sold off as part of a con artist’s cynical teardown.” And such mental gymnastics might or might not have yielded the name Ricky Nolasco [22].

The short answer: “Who gives a fuck?” Which, given all of the above and so much more, I contend is in fact correct.