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

Mulligan Not Needed

There was nothing particularly memorable about the Mets’ Labor Day matinee against the Reds: Bartolo Colon [1] was really good, Matt Reynolds [2] had a nice day, and the Reds played terrible baseball whenever it was helpful to the Mets for them to do so. That about covers it [3].

But this was a game that deserves to be remembered more than that. Because the ho-hum nature of the victory was itself pretty extraordinary.

The Mets were expected to lose this game, and most of us would have grumpily excused them for not just losing it but sleepwalking through it. When ESPN claimed Sunday’s finale of the Nats series for an 8 pm start, Major League Baseball should have moved Monday’s game to 4 pm. Instead, 1 pm stayed 1 pm, and the Mets were forced into a brutal turnaround. They didn’t get to their hotel in Cincinnati until after 3 am, and were at the park by mid-morning. That’s not a schedule those of us who do less than physically taxing stuff such as move money around or make PowerPoints or write stuff would have accepted; most of us would have rightly complained that it was a lousy recipe for effectiveness. Yet the Mets, with their five months of wear and tear and aches and pains, didn’t have a choice.

With his team having been screwed by MLB, Terry Collins [4]‘s reaction was very stubbornly TC, however one might want to define that: he gave his frontline starters (or at least the ones not already lost for the season) a blow, sending out the JV in their stead. No Curtis Granderson [5], despite being one of Sunday’s heroes. No Jose Reyes [6], despite having become the sparkplug of the lineup. No Asdrubal Cabrera [7], despite having saved the Mets time and time again of late. No Yoenis Cespedes [8], despite being Yoenis Cespedes. Jay Bruce [9], one suspects, was only sent out for duty because his return meant so much to Reds fans, and came complete with a pregame ceremony that included his wife.

Put those things together and this didn’t look like much of a game to bet on.

But, well, there’s a reason they play ’em. Colon, one of the heroes, had at least arrived a day early — one likes to imagine delighted Mets fans stumbling across him in the Queen City on Sunday, snacking on chili and dispensing Zen wisdom. The other big hero, though, arrived even later than the rest of the Mets: Reynolds got on a plane in Salt Lake City around 11 pm Sunday, flying to Cincy via Boston (not recommended unless you’re on a mileage run) and arriving around 9 am. Reynolds played the matinee on two hours of sleep at best.

So of course Reynolds went out and collected three hits, including a home run.

Even the Mets’ failures came with pretty decent silver linings. Wilmer Flores [10] seemed determined to turn his day into baserunning clinic, demonstrating for all you kids out there what not to do. In the first, Wilmer whistled a ball into the left-field corner, tried to stretch it into a double and was thrown out by Adam Duvall [11]. In the fourth he cranked one to much the same spot, but higher. It just missed being a home run and bounded away from Duvall. Wilmer, who’d thought it was gone, now turned on the jets to reach third, except Wilmer doesn’t have jets. This time Duvall threw him out at third.

Such sounds like the stuff of tragedy or farce, depending on your philosophical bent, except both balls were socked off right-hander Robert Stephenson [12]. For a guy who supposedly doesn’t hit right-handers, Wilmer’s doing pretty well of late at it — and his BABIP of .244 suggests he could be doing even better.

So there you have it: a sleepy hero, a day of rest for guys who needed it, a player making the case that he’s evolving as a hitter, and Bartolo being Bartolo. Oh, and a win. That’s not a bad holiday, not at all.