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Losses and Tangents

The Mets last week lost a game started by Steven Matz, 25-4. Five days later, because Matz was injured, they started Corey Oswalt [1] in his place. Matz is out with a mild flexor pronator strain, a phrase known primarily to:

1) Medical professionals who treat mild flexor pronator strains;

2) Their patients who are diagnosed with mild flexor pronator strains;

3) Mets fans.

Oswalt pitched much better than Matz did last Tuesday. Oswalt also pitches much better than Jason Vargas any day of the week. Yet Oswalt is considered to start only when somebody is injured.

Despite Oswalt pitching well, the Mets lost, 5-4 [2]. That looks much better than 25-4, but it is still a loss. I wouldn’t discourage Oswalt from continuing to pitch well, nor the Mets from keeping their margins of defeat reasonable, but the real key to success for the team is not losing. This is a fundamental of baseball of which the Mets are likely aware, but given how infrequently they win, posting an occasional reminder seems necessary.

Congratulations to Austin Jackson [3] for homering and for having a name that encompasses two state capitals, the only Met ever to be able to say that. He’s also the only major leaguer ever to be able to say that, but I’m not concerned with everybody else’s minutiae [4], only ours. We’ve had Jacksons first-named Al, Roy Lee and Darrin, and we’ve had a Todd first-named Jackson. They all might have felt at home visiting the capital of Mississippi, but Texas is a whole other identity. Al Jackson, who hails from Waco, could tell you that.

The Al in Al Jackson is short for Alvin Jackson, and Nolan Ryan grew up in Alvin, Tex. Dallas Green was born in Newport, Del. Neither Dallas nor Newport is a state capital. Also, Al Jackson was commonly referred to as Little Al, and half of that can get you to Little Rock, Ark., not as long a schlep from Jackson, Miss, as it would be from Austin, Tex., “schlep” being a word I imagine doesn’t much come up in the region that encompasses those particular states. Maybe it drives down from New York to Delaware on its way to Florida for the winter.

As long as we’re on the subject, let’s hear it for Daryl Boston, Stanley Jefferson (City), Robert Carson (City), Ed Charles(ton) and the three Harrises — Lenny, Willie and Greg — who together at the next Mets alumni celebration could form their own little Harrisburg.

That’s absurd. The Mets celebrate their alumni less frequently than folks around Austin, Jackson and Little Rock say schlep. I’m guessing on the latter, but I’m confident of the former. On the off chance the Mets ever invite the Harrises back en masse, they should keep in mind that Greg A. Harris is ambidextrous and thus could enter the festivities from either dugout.

Where was I? Oh yeah, the Mets lost on Sunday. Wilmer Flores [5] ran the bases terribly as he usually does, but I don’t want to get on Wilmer today because today is Wilmer’s birthday. Happy birthday, Wilmer! The cake is over there…yeah, just go ahead…no, don’t hesitate…ah, never mind.

We love our birthday boy, but there was a lot of truth in that old Carnac bit:

“Longer hemlines, shorter haircuts and Wilmer Flores trying to take the extra base.”
“Longer hemlines, shorter haircuts and Wilmer Flores trying to take the extra base.”
“Name three things that are out this season.”

Judging by the vintage of that reference, Wilmer turns 77 rather than 27 today. Also judging by how Wilmer runs.

It’s not Mickey Callaway’s birthday, so I don’t feel badly pointing out he managed Sunday’s game badly. He demonstrates a Vargasish consistency in that respect. There was another of those situations in which he was duped by common sense when making a pitching change. The pitching change itself wasn’t the issue. Mickey didn’t wait for Brian Snitker to announce his pinch-hitter before making his move for Paul Sewald — St. Paul, should he be traded to Minnesota — to face Adam Duvall. You wait so you can force your counterpart to burn a player. Mickey doesn’t wait, so the other manager doesn’t have to burn anybody. Duvall stayed on the bench unburned, allowing Snitker to use him later at a time of his choosing.

Mickey will do all the self-immolating in these parts, thank you very much.

Maybe Mickey wants to show confidence in his pitchers by bringing them into the game as quickly as humanly possible. That’s not what he said later, though that would have been a more plausible explanation than what he did say, which was something about how he can’t worry about how a move he makes in one inning (in this case the seventh) might affect the game in a later inning (say the eighth or ninth). Managers are usually praised for their ability to simultaneously address the situation at hand while keeping in mind the consequences of situations that have yet to unfold. Actually, it’s kind of understood that’s an essential part of managing.

Mickey’s an innovator. He starts Jason Vargas every five days and expects something different to happen.

If the Mets had ever gotten Mike Lansing, I could have mentioned him earlier. But they never did. Devin Mesoarco also homered. I don’t think there’s a state capital with either of his names attached to it. Even if there was, it probably wouldn’t have helped Mickey, who reportedly will be back next season no matter how many games he lights on fire the rest of this season, manage the Mets to a win on Sunday. Little would.