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Too Much and Yet Just Enough

In the ninth inning of Monday’s nightcap, which if memory serves ended about an hour ago if it’s not in fact still going on, Braves pinch-hitter Dustin Peterson [1] tried to take first base on ball three. The various onlookers laughed; so did I. It had been a long, often ridiculous day and night that by now was overstuffed with baseball. Hell, by then the day was the overinflated Mr. Creosote from the famous scene [2] in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. Even a wafer-thin final pitch seemed like an offer best declined.

But that was the day’s final course. Let’s start with the repast offered by the first game.

Better get a bucket.

That first game was just … so 2018 Mets.

I missed the entire Brewers series while at Phoenix Comic-Fest, following it chiefly through disbelieving double-takes at At Bat’s scoreboard long after disaster had ensued. So I was braced for impact during the first game’s twists and turns, grimly certain that the Mets would succumb to their inevitable Metsiness in some awful fashion, and the only questions to be settled were who, what and when. (We’ll forget the why for now, as I just don’t have the emotional fortitude.)

Another reason to brace for impact: that was Jacob deGrom [3] out there. As Greg noted in his Miller Park postmortem [4], almost nothing has gone right for the Mets since deGrom exited in the eighth inning of Game 15, and he’s been at the center of the absurdity, repeatedly undone by his supporting cast. Since that ill-fated no-decision against the Nats, deGrom has pitched seven scoreless innings against Atlanta (Mets blew a 3-0 lead in the ninth); beaten the Padres; pitched four scoreless innings against Atlanta (left after hyperextending elbow, Mets lost 7-0); endured that weirdo 45-pitch scoreless inning against Philadelphia (Mets lost 4-2); allowed one run over seven in throttling the Diamondbacks; and pitched seven scoreless innings against the Marlins (Familia blew it, 2-1 loss).

It’s not his fault. In fact, he’s specialized in impossible escapes that only delayed the inevitable.

DeGrom took a 2-0 lead into the seventh, having endured a farcical semi-rain delay and his teammates’ baserunning misadventures. Tyler Flowers [5] homered to center to cut the Mets’ lead in half, and a walk and a single essentially through Asdrubal Cabrera [6] put the tying run on third with nobody out. So of course deGrom, being deGrom, coolly struck out Dansby Swanson [7], coaxed a pop-out from Kurt Suzuki [8], and enticed cold-blooded Met murderer Ender Inciarte [9] to ground to Cabrera.

2-1 Mets, alas, became a tie game when Seth Lugo [10] came on for the eighth. Lugo has done yeoman work, but reported for duty with a curve ball missing most of its curve. Still, the Mets were primed for a heroic ending when Devin Mesoraco [11] homered off Shane Carle [12] to lead off the ninth. Mickey Callaway [13] stuck with Lugo for the ninth; Lugo walked Johan Camargo [14], retired Swanson and threw another flat curve ball to Charlie Culberson [15]. Culberson doesn’t hit a lot of homers, but when he does he sure makes them count — his walk-off homer [16] to clinch the NL West for the 2016 Dodgers was Vin Scully’s play-by-play farewell. This one wasn’t quite that dramatic, but it doomed the Mets [17]. Lugo put his hands on his head and trudged off, and the day was done.

Except there was another game to be played … at some point.

The rain came down, the tarp stayed on, the Mets and Braves did whatever bored young athletes do when the elements don’t allow them to play baseball (take turns in the infamous meditation room?), Emily and I watched the good part of Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom and paid vague attention to old Mets Yearbooks (sorry to report that Dawes Hamilt and Bruce Fitzpatrick never quite worked out as Mets stars), and the second game finally began on approximate West Coast time.

P.J. Conlon [18], tabbed as a Rays-style “opener,” crumbled in the third and was replaced by Hansel Robles [19], taking the place of A.J. Ramos on the roster. Which, if we can stop for a moment, is really some next-level Cormac McCarthy shit even by the standards of Mets-fan all-encompassing existential despair. This is like choosing between having your insides eaten by a bird of prey while you’re alive and immortal, or drowning for all eternity without being allowed to die, or some other mythological torment.

Let the record show that Robles did OK-ish, which is not an apology. That’s what Hansel Robles does to make you think that maybe he’s useful, before the pointing at 500-foot homers begins again. The Mets took the lead, lost it, then ambushed A.J. Minter [20] in the seventh, bringing Jose Reyes [21] to the plate with the bases loaded and one out.

Reyes struck out looking on a pitch that was borderline but not unreasonable … after which Luis Guillorme [22] blooped a two-run single into left and Amed Rosario [23] smacked a single off Lucas Sims [24] for a third run. Those runs, somehow, would hold up: Jacob Rhame [25] pitched a spotless seventh and Jeurys Familia [26] went two innings for a win [27] that was much needed but exhausting.

The Mets sank to .500 with their loss in the first game before bobbing back up slightly above Official Mediocrity in the nightcap. It’s accurate to note that was the first time they’d been .500 this year, yet misses the point rather thoroughly. This team started the year 11-1 and has been horrible since then, undone by awful relief pitching, anemic hitting, inept defense, bad luck and the usual run of Metsian injuries.

Seasons are streaky beasts, but the truly maddening thing about the 2018 Mets is how they continue to give roster spots to guys who don’t deserve them. Robles and Ramos have been consistently awful without the track record of previous success that their teammate Jerry Blevins [28] has accumulated. Jay Bruce [29] has been terrible at the plate and can’t play the outfield; Brandon Nimmo [30] has made major strides as a hitter and is the Mets’ best outfield defender. As for Jose Reyes, he has no business being on a big-league roster at this point. He has no range at short, plays third like a spooked horse, can no longer build a run on the bases, and can’t hit at all. Reyes should be a Mets Hall of Famer and has given us many happy memories, but it’s over and everyone knows it except his employers.

So: lock Ramos, Reyes and Robles in a hotel room and skip town. It’s not quite reading, (w)riting and (a)rithmetic, but it strikes me as a good foundation for higher learning — and maybe a better spot in the standings.