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Such a Lousy Ballclub

What sufficed for succor in 2012 evidently lacks efficacy in 2017, which is an R.A. Dickey [1]ish way of saying that even when the Mets were routinely bad, Mets fans could take solace that R.A. Dickey was almost always good. Yet five years have passed. Tastes have transitioned. Roget’s Thesaurus is no longer the de rigueur reference book in Flushing. The Mets fan who wants to be in step with the times requires a comprehensive medical dictionary — and could probably use a thick self-help manual.

Some things, however, seem the same as they ever were. The Mets, such a lousy ballclub when Dickey was such a wonderful story, are such a lousy ballclub all over again. They’ve been growing worse and worse on a daily basis. Buddy Holly would be confounded by how much everyday it’s not getting better.

On Thursday, Dickey rematerialized and the Mets evaporated, 7-5 [2]. The result encompassed a sixth consecutive loss; a tenth defeat in eleven games; and a thousandth debilitating injury in approximately a week. This season’s sample size is no longer so small that you can’t take it to the lab and have it test positive for suck. The Mets are in last place, five under .500 and 7½ out of first. And that’s the relatively benign news.

Noah Syndergaard [3] was scratched from his prospective showdown versus the pitcher for whose past his future was traded. Thor’s nemesis on Thursday wasn’t the literary lion Dickey but a comic book villain named Biceps Tendinitis. The painful bastard kept Noah from raising his right arm above his shoulder [4] on Wednesday. No, that doesn’t sound serious at all. Depending on who or what you wish to believe, Noah could be back in action as early as Sunday or disappear down the tunnel with Ray Ramirez until Odin knows when. You’re familiar with how Met injuries go. Or don’t go.

Matt Harvey [5], an earlier model of mythic fireballing acedom, served as emergency starter his second start in a row. He used to be the Dark Knight. Now he’s Sean Gilmartin [6] Deluxe. Matt wasn’t tipped off that Noah wasn’t feeling tip-top, so he went ahead with his regularly scheduled exhaustive workout. As a result, the thoracic outlet syndrome recoveree didn’t quite have enough gas in the tank to vigorously compete with a 42-year-old knuckleballer. Ad hoc Harvey Day was over in the fifth.

Yoenis Cespedes [7] doubled in the fourth inning, and if that’s all we said about it, you’d think, hey, great. No, not great. Cespedes and his high-strung hamstring came up limping well short of second, which sent Cespedes where all Met hopes must eventually go, directly down Trainer Ray’s Tunnel. We’ll see Yoenis in our dreams, but not in our lineup.

R.A. Dickey, now an Atlanta Brave, is no longer capable of lifting our spirits, but he had a better Thursday than all who have succeeded him at the top of the Met marquee. He wasn’t Cy Young [8] superb, but all he needed to be was quotidian because he was facing the lousy Mets. He got through five innings, two of them with a spasming left quadriceps, which is exactly the sort of thing R.A. Dickey would a) have and b) ignore. Really, how calm does a pitcher’s quad need to be when the opponents are the Mets?

The quad acted up when R.A. was running to first in the fourth. He ran to first in the second as well, on a play that foretold what kind of day it was going to be. With one out and the bases loaded after Harvey gave up two walks and a single, Dickey squibbed a ball to Jose Reyes [9] at third. Reyes, not a third baseman, could have…no, should have thrown home to force Kurt Suzuki [10]. Instead, he threw to Jay Bruce [11] at first. Bruce, not a first baseman, made the putout on Dickey while Suzuki was scoring. Later, Suzuki blasted a three-run homer off Harvey. That also encapsulated what kind of day it was. As did ramblin’, gamblin’ third base coach Glenn Sherlock waving Bruce — as much a sprinter as he is a first baseman — to his watery doom at the plate. Jay was running from second. Ender Inciarte [12] was firing from center. Sherlock liked those odds. The laws of physics didn’t.

The Mets eventually scored five runs, none of them remotely threatening to Dickey’s determination to garner a decision. R.A. was followed to the mound by Eric O’Flaherty, whom we dared mock in the wake of Opening Day [13], when we fancied the Mets a rock-solid contender. O’Flaherty was a disaster against the Mets on April 3, just as he was a disaster for the Mets in the otherwise sunny year of 2015. On April 27, O’Flaherty retired all four Mets he faced.

Reyes did slightly redeem his earlier miscue by throwing home from third twice on two other obvious throw-home-from-third situations and by hitting a solo home run at some inconsequential juncture of the contest. Neil Walker [14] had three hits. Curtis Granderson [15] had one, which is the Curtis Granderson April equivalent of three. Josh Smoker [16] set down all eight post-Harvey hitters he encountered. Mostly Syndergaard couldn’t go and Cespedes couldn’t stay, but I figured I’d mention the handful of nominal positives in case you’re planning on not giving up the ghost with 141 games to play.

That’s assuming the ghost hasn’t already gone on the 10-day DL.