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Accepting a Familiar Blueprint

The first half of the season, which is actually a bit more than half, ended Sunday with the 2018 Mets deciding to remind us that yes, they’re the 2018 Mets.

Ya want yer solid starting pitching, zero offense and a bullpen from hell? Here ya go.

Actually I don’t remember ordering that combination or asking for a reminder that it’s once again the Daily Special — I’d been enjoying the Mets’ spurt of vague competitiveness. But that’s what the Mets slopped down on my plate and everybody else’s.

Corey Oswalt [1] turned in his second-straight abbreviated but admirable performance, with the Nats and Mets each tallying a run when runners were safe on the back end of attempted double plays. (Not exactly an advertisement for baseball thrills, but that’s a post for another day.) The teams ground along until the top of the 7th, when Anthony Swarzak [2] took over pitching duties and everything came up Metsy.

Swarzak has been reliably and inexplicably awful this year, the second coming of Ramon Ramirez [3]. He walked Juan Soto [4], then had him picked off but threw wide of second base, converting a free out into a free base. He then walked Anthony Rendon [5], which led to Swarzak’s exit for awfulness and Asdrubal Cabrera [6]‘s exit with an injured hand. (Thanks, Swarzak!)

Enter Tim Peterson [7], who surrendered a single to Matt Adams [8] to load the bases and pinch-hit two-run single to old friend Daniel Murphy [9]. Peterson got actual outs courtesy of a sacrifice bunt and a flyout, but Mickey Callaway [10] opted for the other half of this year’s tandem of Unexpected Awfulness. Jerry Blevins [11] somehow hit consecutive batters and then surrendered a two-run single to Trea Turner [12], by which point everything was academic [13] and the faithful were booing anything blue and orange that moved.

I went numb a long time ago, so that’s enough about Sunday’s debacle. But looking ahead to the second half I’ve moved on to acceptance — and the first flickerings of stubborn, stupid hope. The Wilpons seem determined to sacrifice some other player’s development so that Jose Reyes [14] can continue making out with the regularity of a cursed metronome, but that farce aside, it’s clear that in the coming weeks the team will shed payroll obligations and the veteran players that go with them, to put things in an order that matches ownership’s priorities.

Cabrera will go, assuming Swarzak’s latest ineptitude hasn’t injured him. Jeurys Familia [15] will go. Perhaps the Mets will find a taker for reclamation project Jose Bautista [16], or swing some sort of deal involving Steven Matz [17], Zack Wheeler [18] or Wilmer Flores [19]. (Which would hurt, and going bigger by trading Jacob deGrom [20] or Noah Syndergaard [21] would be insane, but anyone else … well, we’re 16 games under .500, y’all.)

With veterans off to what I hope will be greener temporary pastures, the Mets will probably give us a look at Peter Alonso [22], just seen hitting to the moon in the Futures Game, and possibly Jeff McNeil [23] if they can remember that he has in fact played positions where they need help. Maybe Amed Rosario [24] will keep looking like he’s found his footing, Brandon Nimmo [25] will show he’s adapting to the rigors of everyday play, we’ll be convinced Michael Conforto [26]‘s shoulder is reknit, and Matz and Wheeler will keep building on their successes and remain pain-free. In which case maybe September won’t look so bleak, and maybe we’ll find ourselves idly playing with 2019 rosters and thinking that maybe something good could be happening.

Or, alternately, Tim Tebow [27] will get called up, because this year of greasepaint and pratfalls could use one more circus. Alonso and McNeil will sit on the bench next to Dom Smith while Reyes makes even more outs for his BFFs in the owners’ box and Jay Bruce [28] limps around in right.

But for now, let me have this vision of something different, which might look like hope if you squint. Because I need it.