Faith and Fear in Flushing

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Silly Season

Wednesday evening found me driving back to New York after dropping my kid off at school north of Boston. The rental-car place closed at 9; if things broke my way and I drove more speedily than I’m now accustomed, I could make it. Maybe. Perhaps. If I pushed it.

I decided to go for it; traffic was light and I was driving a Denali, which is the approximate size and weight of a battleship and thus useful for encouraging dawdlers to vacate the left lane.

Plus I had the Mets, playing ball in L.A. at the weirdo time of 7:35 pm. Zack Wheeler would be on the mound continuing to show us the marvels of Zack Wheeler 2.0. The other Mets would be doing whatever they did or didn’t do. It was a baseball game and usually that’s enough good company to get me through anything.

Except as I listened to Josh and Howie recounting the action, I found my mind drifting in a way you definitely don’t want your growling, ZIP Code-sized SUV drifting.

We have seen our 55th Met. We have an oh-so-Metsian controversy about health and money that makes us angry/weary. We have a potential Cy Young winner at the top of our rotation.

Those are the storylines just completed or left to be checked off this season, and my mind drifted because it’s not much. Jacob deGrom is a story every fifth day. David Wright‘s situation is fluid and I only have so much anger in me pending new information. The Eric Hanhold Era has begun.

The rest? Eh. We have no meaningful games to play until winter has come and gone, and the other Mets stories are incremental. Can Wheeler keep pitching at the high level he’s shown this summer? Do Steven Matz, Noah Syndergaard and Michael Conforto look healthy? Can Amed Rosario keep building on recent successes? Can Jeff McNeil keep improving defensively and slashing base hits? Is some coach remembering to clean the cobwebs off Dom Smith so he doesn’t suffocate?

Those aren’t meaningless storylines by any means — most of them will be pretty important in determining whether we’re optimistic or nah about the 2019 Mets. But that will be a discussion in the springtime. Right now, it’s not exactly the stuff that gets the blood pumping — there’s no unknown rookie to scrutinize after an exciting minor-league season (ahem) or triumphant return on tap (double ahem).

And so I found myself more concerned with my ETA in Brooklyn and where I was going to top up the gas tank than I was with whatever was going on in L.A.

What was going on L.A. was entertaining enough, provided you were a Mets fan. The Mets bled the Dodgers dry with a hilarious (Met fan) or infuriating (Dodger fan) rain of bloops, dunkers, worm-killers and parachutes over the infield. Those that found Dodger gloves tended to clank off of them. The Dodgers looked more like one of their short-season affiliates than a club fighting for a postseason spot, which is going to happen but is still the kind of thing that provokes long, sustained booing. Meanwhile, Wheeler pitched well, even staying in after a scary line drive off the chest, and the Mets won the game, the series and the road trip.

I felt bad not feeling more about all that. But that’s what the season has come down to — low stakes and incrementals. What does it all mean? That’s a question for March, and March is very far away.

Posted by on September 6, 2018.

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