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Witnessing the Apocalypse

[1]

That’s enough baseball for tonight, thanks.

Honestly, it was kind of funny.

Your recapper was three seats behind the left-field fence for the worst loss — mathematically speaking — in franchise history, and can report that it really wasn’t that bad.

Losing 3-2 in 11 lingers unpleasantly in the memory. Getting jumped for a five-spot in a disastrous eighth will leave a mark. Falling behind 1-0 in the first and never making up the difference will get you muttering. But giving up seven in the first and then having things get truly out of hand? All you can do is try to laugh.

Getting your butts kicked all over the place is part of baseball, and thank goodness for it. Every team, from sad sacks to juggernauts, is going to have a day or two in the course 0f a season when they get shelled, shellacked, tattooed or what have you. You try to grin and bear it, to be a good sport, and to accept your licking with a stubborn insistence that baseball karma works in slow and mysterious ways.

There were a ton of fellow Mets fans in attendance at Nationals Park on Tuesday night, and we became one big support group as the Nationals kept putting crooked numbers on the scoreboard. “We got a third hit!” one member of the orange-and-blue faithful mock-exulted as I returned to my seat to find us down 16-0. Emily and I complimented the father of a pair of stoic-looking young Mets fans for raising his kids right, and assured the doubtful-looking kids that this kind of thing builds character. If nothing else, there were mutual raised eyebrows and head shakes as we passed each other in the concourse, trying to ignore that the crowd noise was gleefully swelling again. Everywhere, there was a sense that we were in this together, even though all of us would have found anything else to do with our night if we’d known it would be this breathtakingly bad.

The Nationals fans were invariably good sports too. While I waited in line for a half-smoke at Ben’s Chili Bowl (tasty!), a Mets fan and a Nats fan behind me got to talking. Surveying That Which Didn’t Need to Be Named, the Mets fan offered that “it’s OK, we know we suck.” To which the Nats fan replied, “We’re under .500 ourselves,” after which they both started discussing chili. It’s true: the Mets’ season has been a train wreck, but so has the Nats’ year, and you can make the case that it feels worse to go from March shoo-in to July mediocrity than it does to go from spring-training enigma to regular-season disaster.

As I said, we were all in this together. What was happening in front of our eyes — a 7-spot, followed by a quartet of 3-run innings and matters were far from settled — was pathetic and hilarious and above all else bizarre. Everyone seemed to understand that it was unseemly to gloat and undignified to mourn. The only thing to do was to marvel.

When it was 10-0 Emily and I decided there wasn’t the slightest bit of disloyalty in setting out on her first-ever stroll around Nationals Park. When it was not only 19-0 but also 19-0 and raining, we decided we had had the greatest sufficiency of baseball for the evening, thank you very much.

And so we departed, missing Jeff McNeil [2]‘s first career home run, Jose Reyes [3]‘s debut as a pitcher, and the Mets winding up losing by three touchdowns. I mildly regret not having had eyes on McNeil’s homer, though it seems I have a talent for this: at Yankee Stadium last year I was absent for Dominic Smith [4]‘s first big-league round-tripper. That was worse, as the game was relatively close and I missed Dom’s milestone to get a revoltingly terrible hot dog.

The remaining unseen portion of Tuesday’s debacle? I regret nothing. The night had been amazing enough as it was. And should I go the rest of my life without seeing a Mets game quite so amazing [5] in a similar way, that would be all right too.