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You Can’t Outguess Baseball

Let me take you back a little ways, to a not-long-ago iteration of the National League wild-card chase. The Diamondbacks were destiny’s new darlings, winning night after night and all set up for a run at the postseason, with the easiest schedule of any of the remaining contenders.

As for the Mets, they were dead and buried — grievously wounded by a sweep at home courtesy of the Cubs, then given the coup de grace by the Nationals and their own bullpen, which somehow blew a six-run lead in the ninth.

Except for the part where the Diamondbacks rolled into Citi Field, lost two tight games to the Mets, and then got absolutely stomped in the last two.

The fourth game, a Thursday matinee, was another Mets laugher [1]. This time, your multiple-homer Met was Juan Lagares [2], whose third-inning grand slam made it 6-0 Mets. Todd Frazier [3] homered yet again. So did the revitalized Robinson Cano [4], Tomas Nido [5] and Michael Conforto [6], who reached the 30-homer plateau for the first time in his career. Meanwhile, Marcus Stroman [7] had his best start as a Met, keeping the ball down against the D-Backs and forcing them to play patty-cake with the infield. Even the soft underbelly of the bullpen — and honestly, it’s mostly soft underbelly — held up its end.

Oh, and during the game Pete Alonso [8] shaved the dopey mustache he should never have grown in the first place.

The Diamondbacks were one of the other wild-card contenders the Mets needed to lose on Thursday, and they took care of that themselves. Unfortunately, there was no other help coming. The Cubs overcome a frantic ninth to beat the Padres, the Brewers beat the Marlins, and the Phillies outslugged the Braves. That’s another victory for Time, which always wins.

The Dodgers, the league’s best team by a considerable margin, now come to town for three games with the Mets and no pressing business on their agenda except staying healthy for the playoffs. The Cubs and Brewers have both been cruelly shorn of star players, with Javy Baez and Christian Yelich [9] out for the season. The Phillies keep hanging around. The Diamondbacks’ hopes just took a fusillade below the waterline, but we said that about ourselves not so long ago.

You’re probably expecting analysis — strength of schedule, if Team X wins this many games how many games does Team Y need to win, and so forth. But I’m not going to do that. Because re-read the above.

You can’t outguess baseball.

Make that your mantra for the rest of September. Hell, get it tattooed on your arm.

You can’t outguess baseball.

Sometimes Juan Lagares hits a grand slam. Sometimes the hot team turns to ice and gets the broom. The next 16 games will make sense in retrospect, but not as we go. It’ll just be a frantic ride for all involved, with emotions soaring and crashing, hopes extinguished and flickering back to life.

Which honestly, is what September baseball ought to be. Hold on, soak it in … and don’t try to outguess any of it.