The Mets lost on Saturday afternoon. The Mets will lose any afternoon, any evening, any day of the week. It’s what they do more often than not. Very recently it was only what they did as often as not. In their previous four games, the Mets had lost only once. In their previous eight, they were 4-4. Throw in the pair off of days this past week, and it was like they were moving away from the concept that the Mets do nothing but lose each and every day of their and our lives.
Saturday brought it back, right up to Promenade, Section 523, Row 7, where my pal Joe and I took in the 3-0 shutout Blake Snell and three Rays relievers threw at the Mets . I didn’t know the Rays used starting pitchers like normal teams. To make up for adhering to an established baseball pattern, they sent out their starting pitcher in a jersey bearing a single numeral: SNELL 4. What innovators. I kept thinking they were cleverly deploying a position player.
The draw for Joe and me was Jacob deGrom Bobblehead Day. The figure was very lifelike. The Mets don’t score for Jake’s bobblehead, either.
Meanwhile, Steven Matz  threatened to behave like a Transformer. Every inning he came disturbingly close to transforming into Jon Niese. But Steven is somewhat better than his role model. He kept giving up doubles but avoided giving up runs almost altogether through six-and-a-third. He might have matched No. 4 from the Rays with 0 after 0 except Amed Rosario lived up to only half of his good-field/no-hit reputation. Actually, I don’t think that was his reputation at all, but it is where he’s trending.
Amed wasn’t surehanded on Saturday and he sure didn’t hit a lick. Licks generally go unhit in the midst of Mets. Rosario’s batting average is in the .230s, and it is higher than four of his Saturday lineup compatriots’ (Bautista, Plawecki, Frazier and Conforto). Nimmo got himself thrown out at third for no good reason in the first, so let’s not let him off the hook, no matter his lovability. Actually, the only regular who did much with a bat was Flores, whom we’d call time and hug every plate appearance if it wasn’t likely to cost us a mound visit. Wilmer got three hits. Alas, based on his accumulated acumen for the finer points of the game, Wilmer will never be known as Johnny Field . It’s fun to clap along when he’s introduced to the theme from Friends, but friends, let’s just say I’d be there for any legitimately worthwhile offers from anybody for anybody on this team, no matter their Flushing Q rating.
Except the guy who theoretically inspired Saturday’s bobblehead. Try to imagine the 2018 Mets minus deGrom. Then again, the 2018 Mets in reality with deGrom are enough to not want to imagine.
Did I mention the weather was beautiful in Promenade? It was. Meteorologists would call it unSwarzakish. So nice to have the humidity take a hike. It was probably beautiful elsewhere in the Metropolitan Area, so one didn’t really need a Mets game. But Mets fans’ homing instincts are well-honed. We hear the call of the Vaguely Resembling Bobblehead and we come flocking, some of us two or more hours ahead of first pitch, lest we not get our hands on our Jake. Then we sit for a while. Then we watch the Mets stand in place, at least on the scoreboard.
You know who else didn’t look thrilled Saturday? The kids who were selected as part of the perks program to trot out to their heroes’ positions ahead of their heroes. I use “heroes” lightly. I have no idea if Petey from Port Washington, Robbie from Rockville Centre or Freddie from Forest Hills necessarily idolize Todd Frazier, et al. When each young’n was introduced by preternaturally ebullient Colin Cosell, none, and I mean none, looked happy to be there. C’mon, I said, this is the thrill of your young lifetime, though perhaps I was projecting.
You know who looked happy? The guy from the charter bus company who threw out the second first pitch (a guy from a car company threw out the first first pitch). The charter bus company guy was stoked to stand at the lip of the same mound Steven Matz was about to tread, even more stoked to toss one on the fly to Kevin Plawecki. Imagine being that happy to see Kevin Plawecki. I know we idealize children’s fondness for the National Pastime, but maybe save this sort of on-field interaction for those who’ve survived childhood, adolescence and puberty to remain Mets fans through it all. Seriously, that charter bus company guy was happier than the nine kids combined. The charter bus company is apparently some kind of Mets sponsor, but we’re used to that. Based on the bobbleheads we were handed after our tickets were scanned, the Mets’ best pitcher’s name is quite possibly Ford.