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What I Wrote Instead

As Wednesday night’s game became Thursday morning’s game, the storyline seemed pretty clear — clear enough that I scribbled some notes for myself to peruse around now. Let’s see if I can decipher them:

No aces
Noah’s struggles
Alonso show
Gomez/Seager comedy -> Frazier do or die, see that play a lot with catchers
Adeiny
Walked Buehler twice
116 pitches

And in a better world, that’s the recap I’d be writing: How Noah Syndergaard [1] continues to navigate life stripped of his once-immortal slider, the pitch that left the 2015 Royals trudging and muttering reduced to something stubbornly ordinary. Is it mechanics? The juiced ball? Just mischance? But that recap would also have been about a confrontation of aces that never came to pass, since the Mets used grit and patience to grind down Walker Buehler [2]. Highlights included Pete Alonso [3]‘s two homers, a sign that Alonso might have made the latest adjustment in the endless sequence of pitcher-hitter riposte-and-parry. (Maybe, if I’d been ambitious, I would have crunched a number or two looking at Pete’s pace vs. that of Todd Hundley [4] and Carlos Beltran [5]. Not too early to think about!)

I definitely would have parsed that goofy play where Carlos Gomez [6] misplayed a flyball into a Bellingeresque throw that nabbed Corey Seager [7] at third, with a tip of the cap for Todd Frazier [8]‘s grab and stab at the bag, the kind of no-look, do-or-die play we see catchers forced to make all the time, and that leaves them looking foolish when the timing’s even a little off.

Oh, and I would have worked in an ironic acknowledgment that the latest Met I inexplicably detest, Adeiny Hechavarria [9], has been inexplicably delightful to watch play. That’s why it’s good I’m not the GM, baseball’s great because you’re happy when you’re wrong, oh wasn’t that fun.

Yes, that would have been a pretty neat recap to write. I’m not sure I would have gotten in fretting about the 116 pitches Syndergaard threw, or found the “walked Walker” play on words that my partner would have turned into a feast, but I would have enjoyed writing it and you, presumably, would have enjoyed reading it.

But nope, before you could say HOLY JUSTIN UPTON, the game turned into a debacle [10], one of those games where the other team rips out your heart and shows it to you, glistening and making gross squelching noises because it’s still beating, and after staring at it in appalled disbelief you murmur something witnesses will later reconstruct as “oh, this means I’m dead” and everything goes black.

Homer, homer, double, double, intentional walk, blown play at second for infield single, walkoff sacrifice fly. That was Edwin Diaz [11]‘s night, with the only out he recorded winning the game for the other guys.

What the hell happened? Diaz called it the worst night of his career, which is I hope is still true as long as he’s a Met. He thought his pitches were sharp; the Met commentariat (and the Dodgers’ hitters) disagreed, with the slider in particular seeming to lack the bite that Diaz needs. (Hmm, sliders MIA from repertoires when really needed — there’s another note to scrawl.) Blaming overuse? Seems unfair given not so long ago the suspicion was that Diaz’s problem was rust from underuse. Perhaps the unwelcome but obvious fact that the Dodgers are really, really good should be part of the equation. Perhaps it’s just baseball, which wouldn’t be baseball without the spikes of unexpected beauty/horror that interrupt the placid green Ken Burnsness of it all.

Whatever it was, it turned that recap, the one that still made me smile a bit, into this recap, the one that can’t be pushed deep enough into the archives soon enough.

Worst night of Edwin Diaz’s career. Let’s go with that, and hopefully move beyond it.