Tuesday, May 21, 2013

No Cigar

Monday night's game against the Cincinnati Reds was my 8th of the year, and the second in a row in which I only went to the game simply because I had the tickets. Once again, I wasn't particularly aggressive in finding someone to take my extra ticket, primarily because I didn't exactly remember I'd had these tickets until last Friday, and so I was stuck with an extra ticket. Fortuitously, the Reds appear to be somewhat of a draw for whatever reason, and I was able to find some hearty soul outside the subway who was looking for a ticket. This has happened to me before. Usually, if there's one person looking for a ticket, it's probably someone who is trying to get in and meet someone else, so at least I don't have to sit and feign discussion with someone I don't know. Particularly if they're not a Mets fan.

I don't especially mind going to games by myself. Citi Field (and Shea Stadium, in its time) is a bit of a sanctuary for me, so going by myself and drinking in a nice ballgame on a pleasant night is just fine by me, whether someone comes with me or not. But I usually have to hustle a little bit to make it on time; I leave work at 6 and with a 7:10 start time and two trains to take, I try not to waste any time getting out there. Usually it takes about 40 minutes to get there. But today, I just wasn't moving with my normal sense of urgency. Sure, I left work at 6, but there wasn't really the same spring in my step there usually is. Even when I got out there and battled my way through an abnormally long security checkpoint, I didn't really feel like I had to rush, lest I miss the ceremonial first nose picking or whatnot. See, I know when I'm heading into a bad situation. The Cincinnati Reds were my preseason pick to win the National League Pennant and go to the World Series. The Mets have been terrible, and really haven't shown any signs of being anything otherwise except when Matt Harvey pitches. Monday night, Matt Harvey was not pitching. Shaun Marcum was pitching, and the last time I saw Shaun Marcum pitch, he was, to put it kindly, awful. This just didn't seem like the kind of game I really had to rush to catch every minute of.

Though the end result wasn't as bad as I might have thought, my pregame premonition was pretty much on point. Shaun Marcum had a miserable first inning, which was partially due cause of a Joey Votto hit that a) Bounced off 1st Base before Ike Davis could field it and b) put Ike Davis in position for Joey Votto to clip him passing 1st base and draw a bit of a cheap interference call. This set off a chain reaction of events that led to 3 Reds Runs and Shaun Marcum looking like he was about to unravel into utter Jeremy Hefnerness (and while we're on the subject of comparing Marcum to some awful Mets Pitchers, how about the fact that Marcum works at a pace that rivals Steve Trachsel. Whether there's a runner on base or not, he just works at a miserably slow pace, so much so that by time he departed after 6 innings, the game was nearing 2 and a half hours long and ultimately ended at a horrendous 3 hours, 22 minutes). But oddly, after slogging his way through that first inning, Marcum settled down and actually retired 10 batters in a row at one point, and later worked his way out of a Daniel Murphy-induced jam in the 5th.

Meanwhile, Johnny Cueto, who I suppose fancies himself a Luis Tiant-type, did pretty much everything he could to hand the lead back to the Mets. But, fortunately for him, he was facing the Mets and so although he walked 2 and loaded the bases in the 1st, he only managed to bring up Ike Davis, who Josh Thole'd to get Cueto out of the jam. He walked another in the 2nd and in the 3rd, he again allowed 2 men on base. But there's only so many times you can walk that kind of a tightrope, and finally, Marlon Byrd was able to reach Cueto for the 3-run Home Run that tied the game. Unfortunately for the Mets, that Home Run appeared to be the shock to the system that Cueto needed, since he pretty much went on lockdown from there.

Byrd's Home Run actually kind of picked up my spirits a little bit and got me thinking maybe the Mets might shock me and win the game. Even after Jay Bruce's lightning-like Home Run in the 6th, I figured the Mets might pluck their way through the game and scrape across another run somewhere. But I was mistaken. A succession of 5 Reds relievers combined to stop the Mets in their tracks. I guess I should have known better.

So in situations like this, I guess you have to look for the silver lining, which would be that LaTroy Hawkins, Brandon Lyon and Greg Burke all combined to keep the Reds off the board; Hawkins doing so in spite of the fact that he probably got rooked on the Brandon Phillips HBP/foul ball call, which led to both he and Terry Collins getting ejected. Mostly, I give Hawkins credit for waiting until he got out of the inning before letting Tom Hallion have it.

But, in the end, none of it amounted to anything more than another loss. My feelings were right. Ultimately, after 27 seasons and 331 games, I guess I've developed some sort of demented sixth sense about these things. But at least they kept it close.

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