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Consolation Prizes

Congratulations to Drew Gagnon [1] for making his major-league debut — and collecting an RBI in his first plate appearance at-bat.

If you detect snark in that, hold your fire. The congratulations are sincere. Gagnon is in his eighth professional season, and with his third organization. Las Vegas marked the fourth season in a row he’d pitched in Triple-A. He had to have thought that the call was never going to come and the dream was never going to come true. And with good reason: he knew he’d become a roster-filler, and that 28-year-olds with marginal stuff are Plan H or I for big-league rotations.

But the Mets specialize in Plan Is. Gagnon did get the call, and the dream did come true. Even if he never throws another big-league pitch, he’s an immortal. That has to mean the world to him, to his fiancee, and to his family. I hope they’re all out too late, celebrating the long-awaited fulfillment of all that hard work and shared sacrifice.

The Mets could use a feel-good story in this horrific season, but Gagnon’s arrival was pretty much all they could muster on a steamy, torpid Tuesday night. Gagnon, a vaguely Matthew McConaughey-looking dude, was whacked around pretty good and then gave way to Tyler Bashlor [2], whom I couldn’t pick out of a police lineup. Amed Rosario [3], who may one day aspire to be a feel-good story instead of a question mark, collected three hits, two of them triples. Rhys Hoskins [4] slammed his face into the outfield wall and was apparently undamaged, which we’ll file under “good news based on common humanity.” Oh, and Wilmer Flores [5] made a nice catch and peg home, though that one ought to come with an asterisk since Wilmer should’ve let Jose Bautista [6] catch it.

Is that it? I think that’s it. Well, Mickey Callaway [7] didn’t do anything that demanded curious postgame rationalizations. Wonders abound [8].

I hadn’t seen the Mets for the better part of a week, as I was out in California with family and friends. I don’t think anyone will be surprised to learn that their absence from my life was not exactly a hardship. Watching Phillies circle the bases in the middle innings tonight, all I could think was that what the Mets offer is not a big-league product, and hasn’t been for some time.

The people who own and run this sad-sack franchise should be apologizing nightly for a steady diet of Flexens and Oswalts and Conlons, for setting up shop in New York and charging good money to serve people helper without hamburger. One SNY spot proudly informed us that for the next few days there are no fees for buying Mets tickets. Did you hear that, Mets faithful? Should you be dumb enough to waste your hard-earned money and a summer evening watching this bleak parody of baseball, you will do so free of the indignity of a string of surcharges.

Unless the slow death of the soul counts, of course.

Still, not even apologies would satisfy me at this point. What I really want is for the people who own and run this staggeringly terrible baseball team to go away. Since that’s not going to happen, I want the team they have shoddily assembled to go away, and as soon as possible. Except even that wish comes with an presumptive asterisk. Because we know there will be no dynamic players coming back in return. Should the Mets’ bureaucratic triad agree on a trade and get their feckless nitwit of a boss to sign off on it, it will be a trade made with an eye on pocketing money instead of amassing talent. We’ll get more middle relievers who throw hard but straight, and maybe a lottery-ticket future fourth outfielder. And then we’ll watch more Flexens and Oswalts and Conlons trudge out to the mound.

The broken-down, has-been Mets I want to go away will be replaced by cheaper-model, never-will-be Mets I will almost immediately also want to go away. Perhaps a couple of those players will be making their debuts, with smiling family members in the stands. I’ll try to be happy for them, I really will. And then I’ll hope they make it through, say, three innings before it all comes crashing down on us that night too.