- Faith and Fear in Flushing - https://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

Another Rainy Day in Flushing Meadows

People don’t ask us what we do in spring when there’s baseball. They know what we do.

We stare out the window and we hope it’s not raining.

You didn’t have to be Rogers Hornsby [1] early Sunday afternoon to know there might not be baseball this soggy April day and that it was a rainy day in the greater Metropolitan Area. It was raining out the window. It was raining on the Weather Channel app, especially if you had it set to ZIP Code 11368. It was raining up the yin-yang. The data and the sky suggested it figured to keep raining. You could hope it wouldn’t, but hope doesn’t necessarily yield desired results. In 2021 to date, it’s gotten us two wins, three losses and four postponements.

Hope, like newly designated six-hitter Michael Conforto, needed to be dropped in the order. Maybe bat Open Eyes first. If it looks like rain, maybe wait ten minutes beyond scheduled first pitch before attempting to play ball. Then hope it doesn’t rain.

Yet it did. It began raining minutes into Sunday’s game at Citi Field versus the Marlins. It kept raining [2]. There was one on, one out and one tarp ready to roll. Roll the tarp did seven minutes after Marcus Stroman [3] threw the first of his nine pitches. Stroman could have told you starting was a bad idea. Stroman did, in fact, tell us via tweet that starting was a bad idea (“those conditions put everyone at risk”), expressing him informed opinion during the rain delay that, after two hours and ten minutes, became a postponement that’s actually a suspended game, which itself is a new twist.

For a century and then some, baseball liked to pretend contests that commenced but never reached the fifth inning never happened. All the stats in a game that wasn’t official didn’t officially exist. That was odd. Now the Marlin who singled and stood on first when the grounds crew emerged, Corey Dickerson, will return to that base in the top of the first on Tuesday afternoon August 31. Unless Dickerson happens to be traded between now and then.

It will still be the game of April 11 a mere 142 days from now. That’s even odder, as is the reality that the continuation of the suspended game in which all of nine pitches were thrown, will go nine innings, yet the second half of that day’s split doubleheader is slated to go seven innings. Odd is the baseball watchword of the 2020s.

Forecasts are called forecasts because they attempt to project what will happen based on the best available information. Forecasts aren’t always dead-on balls accurate (it’s an industry term). Luis Rojas was left to explain to the media after the ghost was given up on Sunday’s delay that the Mets had consulted with “an exclusive forecast expert” before opting to attempt to play. We don’t know if he was referring to a leftover operative from the Wilpon administration or if Steve Cohen gave him the private number of “my rain guy”. Either way, they attempted to play, and they couldn’t get through three batters, let alone nine innings.

Even if you think you are in the possession of the exclusive correct forecast, you can’t count on everything you wish to happen happening. Witness Randolph and Mortimer Duke — tycoons who presumably could have afforded a major league baseball franchise— and the frozen concentrated orange juice forecast in Trading Places. The Dukes had their exclusive forecast expert on retainer, yet it was Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd who got the last laugh. At least nobody got stuffed into a gorilla costume and shipped to Africa and the end of Sunday’s rainout.

Not so far as we know.

Preseason forecasts regarding the fortunes of the formidable 2021 New York Mets are proving cloudy after five games, but GOTCHA! It’s five games! They’re 2-3? It’s five games! I don’t even care that six times the Mets have made the playoffs after starting 2-3 (winning four of their five pennants and both of their world championships from such a humble launch). It’s five games! This season is the 25th in Mets history in which the club has lost three of their first five. The only thing we could say for sure after five games in each of the preceding 24 of those seasons was, “It’s five games!”

Nevertheless, the Mets’ inability on Sunday to properly discern cloudy from clear provides us a pretty good metaphor for the way they’ve conducted their on-field business, especially when at bat, but as you may have read in a recent paragraph, it’s five games. True, they can’t make the most of Jacob deGrom’s starts; they can’t make the most of runners in scoring position; and they can’t even make the most of what could have been a serene rainy reprieve [4], but like the gray skies above Flushing, they’re bound to look all right soon enough. Forecasts aren’t perfect, but they’re not usually dead wrong, and these Mets, like the aforementioned metaphor, project as pretty good.

Long seasons have been known to manufacture breaks in the symbolic weather. But keep an umbrella handy. It’s supposed to rain a lot this week.