Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The 50-50 Club

The Mets lost last night, in an eminently forgettable game to the eminently forgettable Houston Astros. This appeared to be a game that the Astros won in spite of themselves. While the Mets on paper look bad but have played well, the Astros actually are as bad as they look. Their basic lack of improvement following a 104-loss season should indicate as much. This makes their victory last night slightly more galling, considering that their bullpen is so awful that Astros manager Brad Mills actually used 7 different pitchers to get through 7 consecutive batters in the late innings. But somehow, they managed to scrape out the winning run when Terry Collins' non-move, to remove Manny Acosta, blew up in his inexcusable second inning of work. I'm known to blast off on certain players, and, rest assured, a full-scale diatribe against Manny Acosta is indeed percolating, but it's not quite ready yet.

The Astros, of course, are the 1962 brethren of the Mets, and their paths have crossed in some fairly memorable battles over the past 50 years. And, of course, their share of clunkers. What seems odd, however, is that this apparently is going to be the Mets last trip to Houston as a National League team. In a rather innocuous move which I don't think anyone is going to really start complaining about until they see how ridiculous it is, the Astros are going to be incongruously moved to the AL West next season, giving Major League Baseball two 15-team leagues. This also means that there will be interleague play going on all season long. Which means that the AL Fatboys are going to start clamoring for the NL to adopt the DH. And so on, and so forth.

I'm fairly certain little good will come of this. I, and most NL fans, tend to be purists. We like our quick, moderately low-scoring, strategy-filled affairs, replete with pitchers having to take their hacks. The Fatboy argument, of course, is that the NL is the only league in professional baseball where the pitcher bats, and they even employ a DH in Spring Training games. A fair argument, but the NL ultimately requires thinking and strategy in their games, something that has always appealed to me. The NL is the Thinking Man's league, whereas the AL basically just requires you to put on your shades, tilt back your head and wait for someone to hit a 3-run Home Run. And yet somehow, some NL team is going to have to be forced to be subjected to this on any given day, even in the thick of a pennant race. I mean, really. The AL? The DH? The DH is a position that has kept guys like Bob Hamelin, Rob Deer and Adam Dunn employed. The Designated Fatboy, the 3-run HR and 4-hour games. Gotta love that American League ball.

My sincere hope is that this is just an experiment, and maybe they'll go back, or maybe someone in Bud Selig's office will wake him up, wipe the drool off his chin and smack him across the face, but, unfortunately, this is probably going to be here to stay. So, Houston, farewell, at least for the next few seasons, until our paths cross again. May we always remember your storied National League tradition.

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