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Home Again

If Noah Syndergaard [1] surrenders a lone hit over six innings, you like your chances.

He did. But unfortunately, the rest of his teammates were sleepwalking — almost literally — through a game all but designed to turn a glittering 5-1 record into a good but more modest 5-2. Seriously, 5-1 is hold-your-head-high, strut-down-the-avenue stuff, whereas 5-2 is a whisper away from 5-3, which is good but feels little fragile.

(This segment of Mets Math has been brought to you by pine tar and paranoia.)

The Mets finished a game in Miami; waited around for drug testing; got their caravan to a plane, to New York and then dispersed around the city and suburbs; and then were back dull-eyed and straggly-tailed for a 1 p.m. home opener. Even with nice weather and bunting and celebrity first pitches and all the other happy pomp and circumstance of a home opener, a night game might have been wiser. Or at least kinder.

As always with such things, you can go too far with the woe-is-me routine. Stephen Strasburg [2] was really good, full stop. The balls that fell in during play at Nats Park and New Soilmaster stayed up for fielders’ gloves, which happens sometimes. A tight, taut game through eight turned more mundane in the top of the ninth, as Seth Lugo [3] and Tim Peterson [4] proved ineffective and a 2-0 Nats lead became a 4-0 lead.

On that turn to the mundane:┬ásomething I’ve become more interested in over time is the thoroughly unscientific idea that the perceived narratives of games cluster around certain points. Those of us who have watched enough baseball games know what certain narratives feel like: the one where you give up a six-spot in the first, the one that’s a pitchers’ duel which grinds on until something slips, the one that’s all frustration until the late explosion against the bullpen, and so forth. There are probably 30 or 40 of those narrative cluster points, and someday it would be fun to try and catalog them. (Tangentially related ideas: Greg’s interest in unicorn scores,┬ámy musing that you can tell what kind of game you saw (or missed) with a look at the win-probability index — flat-line with a single spike, EKG of a guy on a dead sprint, sudden cliff/wall?)

Anyway, the home opener belonged to a cluster that’s simultaneously more common than you think, annoying, and ultimately the stuff of stoicism: the nail-biter that deflates into a grumpy shrug when your bullpen and/or defense proves unequal to the task.

Oh well. The Mets came home, wore their classic uniforms before a full house on a nice day, and just happened to lose [5]. And the schedule does reward as well as punish: today’s a drizzly and clammy off-day. The players will be tending to new apartments and other errands and getting a night to relax and reset. We can all do the same, and get back to how the story unfolds on Saturday.