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Varieties of Pointlessness

At least the Mets are shaking things up.

You no longer tune in guaranteed to see a valiant starting pitcher labor in futility with zero run support, waiting for the one slip-up that will prove fatal. Oh, that possibility’s still front and center, but the Mets have expanded their repertoire. You might also get an acceptable, albeit curtailed performance from a starter, one that blossoms into meaningless farce when the bullpen does something awful to once again bury the Mets.

That’s what happened [1] to Zack Wheeler [2] against the Braves; it’s what happened to Jason Vargas [3] Thursday night against the Diamondbacks.

Vargas was … well, “serviceable” really is the word, a vague smear of similarly bland possibilities. The Mets hung in there until the late innings, only to have Jerry Blevins [4] and Paul Sewald [5] and Jacob Rhame [6] conspire to shove victory out of their reach. The upside of this one, if you squint very hard, was young bats doing what one hopes young bats will do — hit baseballs a longish way. Brandon Nimmo [7] homered, Michael Conforto [8] connected for a majestic 450-footer, and Amed Rosario [9] hooked a curveball into the seats. More of that would help.

Nothing else did, though. Jay Bruce [10] is unavailable, because of back woes, but not on the disabled list, because of the Mets. (Seriously, MLB could come up with a 2-day DL and this cheap-ass bunch still wouldn’t use it.) The useless Joses, Reyes and Bautista, continue to decompose while encased in major-league uniforms they no longer have any business wearing. Before Tuesday Rhame hadn’t pitched for nearly two weeks, which perhaps accounts for his rust but raises the question of why he’s here in the first place. Hansel Robles [11] hadn’t pitched for nearly two weeks, which would raise the same question except ideally Robles would have 52 weeks off a year. (I know he did fine Thursday night. Spectacular! Trade him immediately — his value will never be higher.) Tim Peterson [12] was sent down to make room for White Sox castoff Chris Beck [13], after not pitching for nearly … well, you get it by now. Will we get a look at Beck as July dawns? The suspense is killing me.

And so is this ballclub. If you step back so you can truly appreciate the arc of the Mets’ shittiness, you’ll find something familiar: a team that’s not just reliably bad but also deeply boring. They don’t hit, can’t run, look half-asleep while not doing the things they can’t or don’t do, and the only difference between this lost season and other lost seasons of recent vintage is periodic bouts of  wondering if Mickey Callaway [14] knows what he’s doing. I’ll leave it to you whether that’s more or less fun than watching Terry Collins [15]‘ face turn scarlet as the second postgame question shoved him to the edge of the abyss and his fight-or-fight instinct kicked in.

Myself, I’m gonna go with equally fun, which is to say not fun at all. The Mets are a garbage fire — actually, if garbage fires could compare notes on their inconvenience and intensity, they’d probably refer to a particularly noxious colleague as a 2018 Mets — but they’re also a chore, like a nightly trip to the DMV to take the same form to a different clerk. And it’s still only June.