Friday, July 22, 2016

Dusting And Dusting

After 6 games out of the All Star Break, the Mets had proved nothing other than they're good at not being able to figure themselves out. This was kind of problematic considering that they were going into Miami, where stupid things always happen, to play the Mickey Mouse Marlins, who specialize in doing stupid things. In spite of this, and in spite of Celebrity Manager walking around with this smug, shit-eating smirk on his face, silently demanding preferential treatment, and in spite of Logan Verrett once again having a solid outing fall apart at the end, the Mets beat the Marlins 5-3.

They won this game primarily based on Jose Reyes, who at least tonight looked like 2006 Jose Reyes and forcibly interjected himself into the middle of everything important. He started the game with a double off of Adam Conley, stole 3rd and scored on a sacrifice fly. In the 4th, he pulled the anti-Met move and singled with 2 outs to score Travis d'Arnaud. And in the 7th, after Hamburgers Yelich tied the game with a Home Run, Reyes started the inning with a single off David Phelps, moved to 3rd on a Granderson hit, and socred on another Yoenis Cespedes sacrifice fly. That's 3 hits, 2 runs, an RBI and a stolen base.

Remember when Reyes used to have games like that on a daily basis?

It seems so long ago in a place so far away when that would happen. The Mets and Marlins play in stadiums now that didn't even exist in 2006, and Reyes has bounced around, from an ill-advised season with these same Marlins, to Canada, to the Colorados, and now back to the Mets, and yes, he's older, and he's rusty, but you can still see that spark is still there and so maybe now that he's getting back to game speed he can run off some more games like this. Maybe.

The more operative thing here is that the Mets had to beat the Marlins, particularly since they'd slipped behind the Marlins in the standings, and I have no idea how this happened because the Marlins are a joke of a team and a bunch of turds. They need to be put in their place a little bit and nobody to this point seems to have been able to do that. And, of course, nothing would be more Marlin than to use the Mets as the springboard to success. Point is, the Mets needed to win this game and they did, and when it was close in the 9th, they put the game away against Fernando Rodney. First, he hit Yoenis Cespedes with a pitch, so in my opinion someone on their side needs to get dusted at some point, but then again James Loney did the dusting himself by hitting one into the upper deck for a 2-run Home Run. This set up a much easier 9th inning for Jeurys Familia who once again did not make it easy on himself, and the more the Marlins kept their irritating rally going, the more I had visions of Greg Dobbs coming off the Bench and hitting a 6-run Home Run and the Marlins running around slapping themselves with salami, but Familia's trademark continues to be to bend but not break, and so the Mets finished out the game.

That's good. Now do this two more times. Then come home and do it some more. That's called consistency. The Mets need some of that.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

What Season Is This?

As Wednesday's game was an afternoon affair, which is kind of a trademark of Wrigley Field, I didn't see it. That's just as well. The Mets continued their up-and-down, left-and-right, can't-get-out-of-their-own-way style of play as they did plenty of hitting against Kyle Hendricks, but none of the hitting involved scoring runs. The Cubs, in particular Anthony Rizzo, did plenty of hitting against Bartolo Colon. Unfortunately, when the Cubs hit, they score runs. The end result is that the Mets looked tired and dopey and lost 6-2 in a mostly non-competitive effort.

The question flying around right now isn't simply "What's wrong with the Mets," it's now switched to "Where is this season going?" I know we asked this question a lot last season and yes, it turned out all well and good, but the bullets that Sandy Alderson could put in his chamber aren't quite there anymore. Washington isn't going away, and as proof, all those so-called Nationals Fans are predictably pointing and laughing and using words like "Fluke" and "Outlier" to describe the Mets, but that really shouldn't be the concern right now. I know that this team has been described as mirroring 2007 but that's inaccurate. The 2007 Mets were substantially more talented than this Mets team is, particularly on the offensive side, and they played lazy, complacent baseball. I don't see the 2016 Mets as lazy and complacent. They're underachieving, but this is underachieving like they underachieved in 2001, another season where they had a World Series/Playoff Hangover and just couldn't kick themselves into gear until it was a little too late. You could view this as another 1987, too, because they keep getting derailed by injuries and inconsistency to the point where even the good achievements seem to come with a caveat. Whatever this is, it boils down to the Mets being not quite good enough to run people over, even though they look so at times, and not quite bad enough that they're going to lay down and die. And they don't really sustain anything in either direction. And what years were defined by inconsistency? 1987, 2001, 2007. So maybe this is just a combination of all three.

Regardless, it's too late to say that there's a lot of season left and not too late to really start panicking. So...now what. The Mets seem to be too far behind Washington to make a run for the Division, or at least that's what conventional wisdom would tell us. These are probably the same people who said the Mets were too far ahead of Philly in 2007 and we know how that turned out. Washington hasn't exactly lit the roof on fire either. But beyond that, the Mets are in a real battle for the Wildcard with a bunch of other teams. And they happen to play their next six games against two of those teams because if you can believe it, the Marlins, a cute little story, lead the Mets by a game (or so) and the Cardinals, who are always a pain in the ass, are right on the Mets tails.

Point is, the Mets, if they want to make everyone calm down a little bit, should win 5 or 6. But because it's the Mets, and because they can't sustain, will probably go 3-3 which won't solve anything. If they wanted to make us really crazy, they'd go 2-4. Whatever they do, the next week will tell us quite a bit about what year this really is.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Magicians

I'm not quite certain that the Mets did anything, over a majority of the game last night, that would have made them deserving of a win, but somehow they did win. In one of those games that would have had Bob Murphy exclaim "They Win the Damn Thing!", they nursed Noah Syndergaard through 5.2 innings, they survived a seemingly rejuvenated GOLDEN JAKE, they grabbed a late lead thanks to a replay challenge and a 2-out hit by Rene Rivera, and then closed it out when Jeurys Familia somehow managed to escape a bases loaded, no-out jam, inducing a game-ending Double Play from Baseball Jesus to finish off a harrowing 2-1 victory.

Really, this seemed to be nothing but a gloom and doom game from the get-go. Syndergaard, whose arm I suppose may fall off at any second, kind of weaved his way in and out of trouble throughout the early part of the game. He allowed a run kind of by accident, when in the 3rd inning Willson Contreras, who's got a little bit of Marlins Spirit in him, doubled, went to 3rd on a Wild Pitch that Rene Rivera couldn't corral, and then scored when Rivera made an ill-advised desperation heave into Left Field. I mean, if that's not a Marlin-style run, what is?

Meanwhile, the Mets were doing nothing against GOLDEN JAKE, which I suppose is to be expected from him. GOLDEN JAKE even attempted to widen his own lead in the 4th when he doubled with 2 outs and tried to score on a Tommy LaStella single. In fact, according to Home Plate Umpire Eric Cooper, he did score, much to my chagrin, except for the rather obvious tag that Rivera got on him before he actually touched the plate. Replay, reversal, score remains 1-0.

And then it was tied, somehow, in the 6th, when Jose Reyes turned the clock back to 2006 and hit a triple, which is something we used to see with regularity in another time and place, and then scored on a Curtis Granderson sacrifice fly.

So Syndergaard was done in the 6th and GOLDEN JAKE got through 7, and you figured it was just a matter of time before something dumb happened and, well, while plenty of dumb things did happen, it somehow didn't manage to sink the Mets. Jerry Blevins finished the 6th and Hansel Robles worked a clean 7th and then an 8th for good measure, and so the game remained tied going to the 9th.

The Cubs went to their closer, Hector Rondon, another guy who looks like he'd fit in well as a Marlin, and the Mets mounted an excruciatingly slow rally. James Loney led off with a single, but Neil Walker grounded into a Double Play, except he didn't because he beat the throw to 1st and Umpire Ratso McGillicuddy blew the call. Replay, reversal, Mets have 1 on and 1 out. Cabrera follows with a single to bring up Michael Conforto, who has quietly returned to the lineup but still appears to be pressing. In a key spot, a hit here would have been enormous, symbolically, but Conforto appeared overanxious and struck out. This wasn't good BUT OH RENE RIVERA GOT A HIT TO DRIVE IN THE LEAD RUN! Somehow the Mets didn't screw it up!

To the bottom of the 9th and Jeurys Familia, who quickly got ahead of Addison Russell, didn't get a call and subsequently lost the plate, not finding it until he not only walked Russell, but Miguel Montero behind him, sending Cubs fans into a tizzy. Javier Baez followed by laying down a bunt that was obviously going foul except that Jose Reyes decided to field it and make a throw to 1st not especially close to getting Baez. So, bases loaded, no outs, Cubs fans peeing themselves over in glee and, of course, Matt Szczur coming up, and if you figured there was one guy ripe to spoil Familia's Save streak and drive a 2-run double into the Right Field corner, it's Szczur. And Syzygy did pull the ball, but right to Loney, who threw home for the out. No matter. Up came the Baseball Jesus himself, and again, there were visions of him hitting one to Waukegan and Cubs fans uniting for a giant collective orgasm. Except that Bryant slapped a shot right to Reyes, who started the 5-4-3 DP and somehow, the Mets escaped imminent disaster. Twice. Three times if you figure they had to face GOLDEN JAKE.

So it goes. The Mets alternately look awful and lose, or look great and win, and sometimes they manage to do both at the same time, like tonight. They didn't especially look like they were going to win this game most of the night, but somehow they did and at this point I'll take wins however I can get them.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Hell Stretch

No Mets season feels complete without a ridiculous long road trip directly out of the All Star Break. Granted, this season isn't quite as bad as the years that they had to come out of the Break and go to San Francisco, St. Louis and San Diego, or Atlanta, St. Louis, Colorado, or St. Louis, Los Angeles, St. Louis, but this trip, Philadelphia, Chicago, Miami, isn't exactly much better.

The Mets played good in Philadelphia, which is also against trend, because usually these trips end with the Mets going 2-7, but then again they only played good, and not great. They'd have to play great against the Cubs, who I'm quite certain have had enough of the Mets and their fuckery. For once, we're the team that's been pushing the opponent around, at least when the Cubs are concerned, and you had to figure it was just a matter of time before they shoved back.

Monday night, the Cubs shoved back, to the tune of a 5-1 win. Steven Matz couldn't survive the 3rd inning, Anthony Rizzo hit the big Pizza Pie, and the Mets never recovered against Jon Lester.

I know that the Mets weren't going to totally stone the Cubs this season and a game like this was brewing, but that doesn't make it any easier to swallow. I've gone on record many times detailing my distaste for the Cubs (and primarily it's their fans, but then again that's the case with my dislike of most teams). I have a good friend who happens to be a Cubs fan and I'd at one point said that if the Cubs ever do win a Championship, I'd be happy for him, and no other Cubs fan. There is a humility to Mets fans, and perhaps it's just an embittered, cynical world view based on too many years of losing, collapsing, Willie Randolph and Ratso Wilpon. The Cubs fan seems to know none of this, for whatever reason. I'm not sure why, since the Cubs history is dotted with things like "Manager by Committee" and "Steve Bartman." But I digress. Now that they put together what is, in essence, a SuperTeam, you get what you have right now, which is essentially a giant circle jerk around the city of Chicago. Tell them that the SuperTeam never works and you're likely to get hit over the head with a Baseball Jesus poster or something.

Really, I didn't mean to spend this entire post cracking on Cubs fans, but for one, it's too easy and for two, I've said everything that needs to be said about the game. It was too much. Too much Rizzo, too much Lester, too much Matt Szczur (and I think his name being announced at all qualifies as too much Sczcur). Matz wasn't awful but he wasn't exactly inspiring either. Now, the Mets are down again, and they have to come back and face GOLDEN JAKE, who keeps talking about how he's refreshed and rejuvenated and ready to throw another 4 No Hitters. So, I mean, buckle up your chinstraps, right?

Monday, July 18, 2016

deGuy

I finally found myself with some free time and in front of a TV on Sunday, and as such I actually got to watch an entire Mets game undisturbed for what feels like the first time since, well, the last time I was at a game 10 days ago. Yes, I know there was an All-Star Break in there. It just felt like months since I'd seen a game.

It also felt like months since we'd seen Jacob deGrom pitch; his last appearance was way back on July 6th against the Marlins. He'd been in a great groove leading into the break, but he outdid himself on Sunday afternoon, spinning his first career Complete Game Shutout against the Phillies as the Mets won 5-0.

There have been several times when deGrom has absolutely stood head and shoulders above everyone else on this pitching staff and with the struggles some of his mound-mates have been dealing with over the course of the season, what we saw out of deGrom is really encouraging from the standpoint of he needs to be That Guy again. I mean, even when deGrom hasn't had his best stuff, he's managed to grit his way through some outings and come out ahead. But when he's got everything working, he has days where it's like, get out of my way. Sunday was one of those days. I'm not sure where, exactly, I started paying more attention to his pitching than the Mets offense, probably around the 6th, but this was one of those signature games for him. He has these moments where he reminds you that he's really good, and today he was really good against the Phillies for 9 innings and 105 pitches, and I'd say none of them were under any kind of duress. He allowed a hit to Zac Eflin, the opposing pitcher in the 3rd, a leadoff walk to Ryan Howard in the 8th...and nothing else. The Phillies couldn't even manage to get a runner to 2nd against him and, well, if he's a little more nimble on the quick comebacker that Eflin hit, we might be talking about something of greater importance here.

Nonetheless, a 1-hit shutout is nothing to shake a stick at. A Complete Game is nothing for a Mets pitcher to shake a stick at altogether. The last time they had one was last year when Bartolo did it and, before that, you have to go back to Zack Wheeler in 2014. So they don't come around very often. You look for this sort of effortless performance out of these guys and on Sunday that's what deGrom delivered. He'd thrown somewhere around 70 pitches after 6 innings and basically held that line from there, to the point where after he breezed through the 7th I knew he was going to wrap the rest of the game up. He was going up against an overmatched opponent and pitched his game as such. That's what the Mets should be doing to Philly anyway.

Now, the Mets can go into Chicago, where they'll be meeting a slumping Cubs team that's probably steaming over the pistolwhipping they took from the Mets 2 weeks ago, with a nice, fresh bullpen.