Well, Mama told me there’d be days like these.
My mother also knows baseball and has a head for business. So she told me some other things too.
For example, she told me that days like these are a lot more likely if you’ve got cheapjack owners who can’t or won’t pay to put the best product on the field, who think it’s sensible to send a live-armed young fireballer off to the free-agent market to sign with a division rival, and try to convince you that it’s a perfectly sound plan to replace that live-armed young fireballer with reclamation projects who have solid resumes but questionable futures.
And she told me that, yes, injuries happen — but that I shouldn’t be surprised when they happen to guys who throw 100, UCLs being the thin reeds that they are, and that a wise business owner makes plans for those injuries, so that you’re not looking at, say, putting Corey Oswalt or Walker Lockett in your rotation in a year when you can contend for a playoff spot. (No, really, she said those names. I was eight years old and it was 1977, so I didn’t know whom she was talking about, but turn the clock ahead 43 years and I see what she meant.)
Zack Wheeler is in Philadelphia, and Noah Syndergaard is sitting somewhere glowering at the scar on his elbow, and Marcus Stroman is dealing with a torn calf, so the Mets’ rotation is the peerless Jacob deGrom, the promising but perilous Steven Matz … and then wishing those two guys were around.
Rick Porcello won a Cy Young award in 2016 with the Red Sox, using a potent sinker to get batters to beat balls into the ground and keeping them honest with a four-seam fastball, change-up, slider and curve. 2019, though, was a disaster — Porcello put his four-seamer front and center, and while he struck out a lot of guys, he also gave up a ton of home runs. His hard-hit percentage was the worst of his career, translating to a 5.52 ERA and a new employer.
The Mets thought they could get Porcello to go back to what worked a couple of years ago, but on Sunday night he threw too many four-seamers and sliders up in the zone, and the results were ugly: fifty-six pitches, two innings, six earned runs. Maybe Porcello will make the adjustment (though being a groundball pitcher in front of Robinson Cano isn’t necessarily a recipe for success), but it’s easier said that done — and Porcello has been plying his trade in the big leagues since 2009, meaning there’s a lot of mileage on that arm.
With Porcello excused further punishment, Corey Oswalt was brought on to take a beating, and somehow made you miss Porcello — Austin Riley hit a ball so far that J.D. Davis wound up fielding a very confused flight attendant whose 747 continued on with a ragged hole in the fuselage. (The flight attendant went just over the tip of J.D.’s glove and bounced off the warning track. She’s fine.) When LaGuardia Air Traffic Control requested that Oswalt be relieved so planes no longer had to be diverted to JFK, Paul Sewald made his 2020 debut and did the kind of things Paul Sewald has been doing since 2017. Hunter Strickland managed not to be terrible, but by then the Braves were tired of running the bases, so let’s not get too excited about a brief flare-up of Stricklandian competence.
Insult to injury: ESPN used its junior varsity broadcast crew, and while I’ll reluctantly admit Chipper Jones is a not bad color guy, Jon Sciambi and Rick Sutcliffe could find offseason work breaking terrorists at a CIA black site.
“AUUGGHGHHH!!! NO MORE OF THIS MAN BOOG! NO MORE OF HIS FRIEND SUT! IT IS A SYMPHONY OF HELL TO MY EARS! WHAT DO YOU WANT TO KNOW???!!!”
Seriously, I’m listening to Matt Vasgersian and A-Rod now and they sound like a Vin Scully/Gary Cohen supergroup.
I could say that getting the tar beat out of you 14-1  is better than looking out the window and wondering why there’s no baseball when it’s spring, and you know what? That’s true. That’s true and let’s not forget it because of one bad night. But losing by 13 isn’t better than a whole lot else, and as I type this the Mets are on caravan of buses somewhere on I-84, heading for Boston and wondering if Michael Wacha’s any better repaired than Porcello.
I hope nobody let Oswalt drive.