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Fighting Over Scraps

I was supposed to be writing this recap at home, finally returned from an eight-day jaunt that took me to six states and five ballparks (four of them new), with a side of genealogy dorkery. But that was before Biblical rains descended on New York, blanketing it in radar bands of creeping green, bubbling yellow and seething red. That was before ground holds began and pilots’ radios crackled and Delta reps looked increasingly grim. And it was before Biblical rains descended on Cincinnati as well, leading to a cessation of operations and employees directing travelers away from leaking roofs.

That’s how my 1:25 plane turned into a 6 o’clock plane and then a 7 o’clock plane, except that was 7 o’clock the next morning. Cue “we apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience” — a speech that fell on the departing backs of passengers scrambling for suddenly precious hotel rooms. Even as I sought rescue, I briefly debated heading back into Cincinnati proper to watch Matt Harvey [1], but decided that a) Greg had put up with my journeying for long enough; b) I’ve seen enough of Matt Harvey [1] for a while yet; and c) I was dog-tired. Put those three factors together and watching the Mets from a room in a Kentucky airport hotel sounded like a suitably low-key plan.

And so there I sat in front of MLB.TV, watching the Mets and Marlins. Ironically, I’d been denied the chance┬áto watch the Mets during the genealogy break in my ballpark tour: our stalwarts were playing the Reds and my temporary base of Richmond, Ind. [2], was in Reds territory, leaving me far from home yet on familiar turf with regard to blackout restrictions. (It didn’t occur to me until hours later that I might have, you know, turned on an actual television rather than trying to conjure magic via an app.)

Anyway, the Mets and Marlins cooperated with my low-key plan by playing a low-key game, the kind you fear seeing from teams that are hopelessly out of it and halfheartedly looking to assemble next year’s clubs from ill-fitting, not-yet-defined and possibly broken pieces.

Both starting pitchers had reason to squawk about fate. Dan Straily [3] was done wrong by home-plate umpire Ed Hickox, who flat-out missed a 3-2 slider with two on and one out in the third. Straily crouched down in agony, all but bat-signaling his chagrin; of course Todd Frazier [4] promptly stroked a ball over third to bring in three runs. Baseball’s mean like that.

Corey Oswalt [5]‘s complaint was with his own defenders, a familiar cross for Met starters to bear. With one out and a runner on first in the bottom of the fourth, Oswalt coaxed a grounder back to the mound from Brian Anderson [6] (sidenote: who the hell are these Marlins?), only to find Amed Rosario [7] and Jeff McNeil [8] had courteously flanked second instead of occupying it. Oswalt waited while Rosario hastily attended to middle-infield business, downgrading a double play into a fielder’s choice for a lone out. A Derek Dietrich [9] double and a Martin Prado [10] single (there are two guys I’ve heard of, at least) under Wilmer Flores [11]‘s glove cut the Mets’ lead to 3-2.

The Marlins tied in the fifth, and then it was time for bullpen roulette, with the game grinding along mostly without much of interest. Flores lined a 103 MPH fastball from Tayron Guerrero [12] to the warning track to end the top of the seventh, leaving me to wonder when throwing 103 went from legendary to something done by random Marlins. (If you’re curious, yes, I am available to guard your lawn and disapprove of clouds.) The routinely luckless Paul Sewald [13] loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, but escaped by fanning speedster Magneuris Sierra [14], who’s yet to learn how to steal first base, and Isaac Galloway [15].

Into extra innings we went, with whatever was left of both fan bases wondering which reliever would be first to hit the wrong chamber. These extra-inning Verduns always make perfect sense in retrospect, as if everything was foreordained, but I’d be lying if I didn’t have a sharper-than-usual sense of dread when Jacob Rhame [16] was called on. At least it was quick: Rhame’s third pitch was a Miguel Rojas [17] single and his seventh was a walkoff double by Bryan Holaday [18], one of those people I vaguely pity because they must routinely get mail on which both their first and last names are misspelled.

Anyway that was that [19], whether you were watching in rainy New York or rainy northern Kentucky. (Ballpark discussions will wait for a night I’m less tired.) I was glad to see the Mets again after more than a week away from them. But I do wish that we’d renewed acquaintances in a game that wasn’t quite so Metsian.