- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

Nothing Doing

In this post-primary, pre-convention interregnum when we speak of presumptive nominees, I must confess I was nervous when the Mets were declared presumptive winners, perhaps sweepers, of the Atlanta Braves in advance of this past weekend’s series at Citi Field. The Braves have been remarkably bad in 2016. The Mets had been pretty good to occasionally very good. Yeah, how could we lose a set of three games to these bozos?

How presumptuous.

I can’t tell if Atlanta is building something formidable based on their having swept this trio of contests from the Mets. Maybe they’re better than we were led to believe. The Mets, based mostly on their recent sample of baseball, don’t appear to be particularly able at all.

It’s not so much the loss of three games to a last-place club as it was the pulselessness that was displayed one through eight from Friday to Sunday, particularly Sunday. The Mets’ trademark starting pitching was good enough to compete if not overwhelm in all three games, but the Mets’ starting hitting, save for a handful of swings, never really began.

Sunday dreadful Sunday [1] was the worst, which is saying something after how Saturday night went down. You can accept with grace one loss [2] to a rebuilding entity like the Braves. You can rationalize away a second loss [3] defined by a third base coach’s ill-advised green light. But the third, for which your batters produced one hit and no other means of reaching base?

That’s not gonna get it done, if you’ll excuse my using technical terms. It’s not much of answer, but on Sunday, the Mets didn’t look like much of ballclub. The real victims were all the kids who were looking forward to the Mr. Met Dash. Without their heroes setting an example, these boys and girls were left completely clueless as to what one does when one encounters basepaths.

I heard “shakeup” mentioned in the postgame press conference. If possible, I’d treat the current roster like a snow globe and, after swapping out Kevin Plawecki [4] for Travis d’Arnaud [5], send down any four guys and bring back any four guys who aren’t named Eric Campbell [6]. There is a handful of Mets who are performing to expectations and several others who don’t seem to be doing so badly yet also seem to be doing nothing.

Fix that, would ya?

During Saturday night’s game on Fox, one of the announcers I didn’t want to hear referred to the Mets as unathletic. How could that be? I wondered. They’re athletes. I take it that “unathletic” was intended as a synonym for slow. They are slow…but they’re also a little creaky, they don’t proceed with fluidity, and they’re not exactly nimble on their feet.

Fandom often boils down to older, unathletic men expressing dissatisfaction with younger, athletic men for not being less like them. I can be slow, creaky and look pathetic on my own very well, thank you. The Mets went 1-for-28 versus Julio Teheran [7]. I can honestly say I couldn’t have done a whole lot worse.

For all the mostly justified kvetching, the Mets carry the exact record they held after 68 games last year and remain in position for a Wild Card spot this year, but now it’s the second one and they’d be traveling to frigging Marlins Park to face elimination. You’d like to believe the statis will cease and instead of “remaining in position,” they inject themselves with some dynamism. I swear these aren’t terrible players, as long as one of them isn’t Campbell.

I’d also like to believe I’m a better fan than the Mets were players on Sunday. I’d like to think that if I’d been at the game, I would have tepidly applauded Teheran when he came to bat in the eighth. Appreciation for the other team’s starter’s excellent outing is a dying art, just like standing for the seventh-inning stretch (a timeless ritual that mystified my section last week). Though it’s difficult to comprehend that anybody can pitch worse than his record indicates against these Mets, Teheran had been throwing his heart out all year and had two wins to show for it. A giveaway cap can be tipped lightly in his direction.

The Reds made a classy gesture last September. (Image courtesy of Studious Metsimus.) [8]

The Reds made a classy gesture last September. (Image courtesy of Studious Metsimus.)

Granted, one-hitters are useless to have thrown at you, whereas no-hitters are historic. On Channel 11, given that Sunday was Father’s Day, we were shown the last pitch from June 21, 1964, Jim Bunning [9]’s perfect game at Shea Stadium. Between Bob Murphy’s enthusiastic call of and the Mets fans’ supportive reaction to that 6-0 whitewashing, you understood a great performance had transpired and you might as well appreciate it. I thought the Mets should have acknowledged the no-hit successes of Chris Heston [10] and Max Scherzer [11] last season on the Citi Field scoreboard (they didn’t) and I thought posting “CONGRATULATIONS ROYALS” wouldn’t have been out of line at the end of the World Series, as painful as it was to come out on the short end of that little get-together.

The return of the Royals to Flushing this week will elicit several regrets, and the paucity of institutional sportsmanship demonstrated by Met management will be pretty far down the list, but if a championship is captured in your midst by a worthy opponent who isn’t from across town, it really wouldn’t hurt to give the ol’ “good game, good game” before turning out the lights. Watching the Cavaliers accept their NBA hardware Sunday night on the Warriors’ home court, I really had to hand it to Golden State fans who sat and absorbed the scene implicitly commemorating their team’s demise without wadding up their yellow t-shirts and firing them in the general direction of LeBron James. Admittedly, it’s a tough line to toe without tripping on your emotions.

Listen in as Mike Silva and I dissect a below-average weekend and recall the chaos of seasons past on the Talkin’ Mets podcast [12]. I join Mike at around the 20:00 mark.