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Catch a Catcher Cameo

True confession time: Your recapper earns no accolades for being an attentive student of the game Wednesday night, dozing off before the conclusion of Game 1 (“Did they lose?” I asked Emily when roused) and remaining groggy and befuddled for a good chunk of Game 2. Just as well, since I figure we don’t particularly want to talk about Game 1 anyway — Marcus Stroman [1] pitched well except for one pitch he shouldn’t have had to make to Met killer Paul DeJong [2], while the somnolent bats made you wonder if it was too early to fire Hugh Quattlebaum, and let’s leave it at that.

Game 2 was far more enjoyable, as the Met Plan Bs stepped up where some of the front-line players have faltered of late. You had the -illars, Kevin P and Jonathan V, contributing on both sides of the ball and giving the Mets’ tempo a welcome kick alongside their nightly pronunciation challenges. (By the way, points to Steve Schreiber for suggesting [3] we refer to them as Kevin Public Relations and Jonathan Virtual Reality.)

In the second inning of the nightcap, the Mets looked like they were going to waste a second-and-third, nobody-out situation, as they have far too often in 2021: Villar and Jose Peraza [4] made contact but neither hit the ball deep enough to score Dom Smith [5] from third. But Smith scampered home on a wild pitch by Johan Oviedo [6], who got no help from momentary 2020 Met backup catcher Ali Sanchez [7], and then current Met backup catcher Tomas Nido [8] drove Oviedo’s next pitch into the left-field seats for a 3-0 lead. It struck me as possible there might have been an easier way to get those runs home, but hey, whatever works.

To my delight, the next hitter was Patrick Mazeika, on the roster for a single day last August as Nido’s backup. Mazeika never got into a game in 2020, becoming the 10th ghost in Mets history, and between his modest minor-league CV, the acquisition of James McCann [9], and the Mets stockpiling other catching options, I had the uneasy feeling that day spent in the dugout might be closest he’d get to a big-league line in Baseball Reference. Which isn’t a fate I wish on anybody — being a team-specific ghost is an oddity, but being an MLB ghost is a tragedy. Of the once-again nine spectral Mets, that cruel fate has been reserved for just two — catcher Billy Cotton, who supposedly was on deck to pinch-hit in 1972 but saw the Met at the plate hit into an inning-ending double play, and Terrel Hansen, who never got that far in ’92, stuck to Jeff Torborg [10]‘s bench while his cup of coffee went untasted.

But nope, there was Mazeika, at the plate and so in the books. He grounded out almost instantly to first and I guarantee you he doesn’t care a whit about that outcome right now, and at least for a day he has no complaint whatsoever with teams using openers. Mazeika’s time as the newest Met was brief, as the man he pinch-hit for, Miguel Castro [11], gave way to the just-recalled Jordan Yamamoto [12]. Yamamoto pitched serviceably enough, helped out by a nifty throw from Pillar to nail Sanchez at the plate and by the fact that PR and VR kept pouring it on, leading to a tidy enough final score of 7-2 and a chance to exhale [13] before tomorrow’s matinee.

If Mazeika never returns to the big leagues, at least we’re using a different verb than we did a year ago. And how about that two-batter stretch, anyway? Baseball bingo cards are filled with oddities, but good luck drawing a one-year reunion of 2020 Met backup catchers, with Sanchez getting a ringside seat for Nido’s heroics and Mazeika’s escape from ectoplasm.

Who knows? Maybe it’s a sign that James McCann will do something in 2022.