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They Tugged on Superman’s Cape

You know things have really taken a turn for the worse when even Jacob deGrom [1] can’t save the Mets.

The Mets and Marlins reported for makeup duty a little after 1 pm Monday, with Miami not particularly excited at having to fly up and back to New York in a single day, and presumably even less excited to face the best pitcher in the National League. The Mets didn’t look terribly excited about the matinee either, having just had their season holed below the waterline by a mostly anonymous band of Plan B Yankees and now being required to make a home stopover before heading to Baltimore. The early innings fairly whizzed by, with 18 different guys not looking terribly interested in hanging around the batter’s box longer than necessary, and I had the same thought I think a lot of Mets fans had: DeGrom is dealing, the Marlins don’t want to be here, this could be a special day.

Call that Exhibit No. 954 in the continuing series, Don’t Try to Outguess Baseball. DeGrom gave up an infield single in the third to Lewis Brinson [2] on a ball perfectly placed to confound both Andres Gimenez [3] and Amed Rosario [4], was staked to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third, and then had the roof cave in come the sixth. Yes, there was an error by Pete Alonso [5] that made three of the four runs unearned, but there were also too many balls left over the middle and hit a long way — deGrom has absorbed an absurd amount of unfairness during his tenure as the Mets’ ace, but he was beaten fair and square on this day. Shocking though it was to watch, even Superman occasionally flies into things [6].

After the game, the Mets made some head-scratching moves, acquiring Robinson Chirinos [7] and Miguel Castro [8] and reacquiring Todd Frazier [9], who left the team about five minutes ago. Chirinos is a backup catcher who seems to have forgotten how to hit in 2020, Castro is a reliever who throws a 98 MPH sinker but still somehow gets lit up a lot, and Todd Frazier is Todd Frazier. None of the acquisitions did much of anything to fill holes; Frazier, while a genial sort, threatens to block players who deserve playing time more than he does. We don’t know what the Mets gave up to get this underwhelming haul, beyond marginal prospect Kevin Smith [10], but I trust neither Brodie Van Wagenen nor the Wilpons in their red-giant phase.

The pleasures of the game were faint. There was the fact that it happened it all, I suppose, which really ought not to be nothing — it wasn’t so long ago that the idea of baseball as a distraction would have seemed like deliverance, regardless of the final score. And there was Robinson Cano [11], who may not like DHing but sure seems suited for it. In a season full of sighs and grumbling, Cano has looked a lot more like the Hall of Fame bat he once was than the player who stumbled and gimped through a foggy first season as a Met; it’s not enough to make the trade that brought him here a winner by any means, but seeing how that’s a sunk cost, anything that makes the deal more palatable is welcome.

But again, faint pleasures. The Mets aren’t out of it — it’s hard to be out of it in this weird sprint of a season — but it certainly feels like their chances are slipping away, and nothing they did at the trading deadline changed that dispiriting equation overmuch. To steal a beat from Sunday’s post [12], today wasn’t a good day either.