Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Make It Awful

On the day of the passing of Frank Cashen, the architect that took the Mets from trash and made them golden, the Mets seemed to play a game reminiscent of the kind of play that typified the team Cashen took over back in 1980.

Zack Wheeler, who generally pitches well when returning to his home state, had another particularly strong outing against the Braves, allowing only 1 run over his 6.1 innings, but 5 walks ran up his pitch count and forced him from the game. Nonetheless, the Mets managed to scrape across a few runs for him; Curtis Granderson led off the game with a Home Run off of Alex Wood, and the Mets added on single runs in the second and 3rd innings, and with a 3-1 lead being turned over into the hands of a bullpen that's been pitching well of late, it seemed like the Mets might get their series in Atlanta off to a good start.

But the Braves, who remain in first place in spite of the fact that they're not an especially good team, rose up and did what a first-place team generally does and took advantage of the mistakes of their opponent. In what can only be described as a defensive meltdown of epic proportions, the Mets defense completely collapsed in the bottom of the 8th inning. Jeurys Familia keyed his own undoing by first allowing a pair of singles to start the inning, and then when luck happened and Chris Johnson hit a comebacker that seemed primed for a 1-6-3 Double Play, Familia alligator-armed a throw not especially close to 2nd base and everyone was safe. Tommy LaStella followed with a single to center that tied the game when Juan Lagares, normally so sure handed, overran the ball, allowing 2 runs to score instead of one. The nightmare continued 3 batters later, just as Familia seemed primed to limit the damage that had already been done, when Eric Campbell, filling in for an injured David Wright, gagged on an Andrelton Simmons ground ball, allowing the lead run to score and leading to more ass-kissing of Simmons' amazing abilities. Familia was removed in favor of mysterious Dana Eveland, who completed this debacle of an inning by walking Freddie Freeman to force home a run, although whether he'd walked or hit a Grand Slam, the Mets were clearly toast in this game.

This was the kind of game that's really typified the shit show that the Mets have been of late. We already know they can't hit, or at least they can't hit in situations of consequence, and they can't tack on to leads and prevent the opposition from coming back. This seems like the kind of thing I've been yelling about for years, but it just never seems to change. And the 2014 season continues to fade out into another year of oblivion, no different than the 5 seasons before it. And that's why its easy to look at a game like this in contrast to years like 1979 and 1980—the Black Hole of the Mets—particularly on the day of the passing of Frank Cashen. No figure was perhaps more key in leading the Mets out of that miserable era than Cashen, starting with drafting players like Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden, but also making great, forward-thinking trades to acquire guys like Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling, Gary Carter, Bob Ojeda and so many others that would eventually make the Mets a dominant force in the late 1980s. But poor Frank is gone, and he can't save the Mets anymore.

Sandy Alderson could be that same guy. But I often wonder where his head is as his scheme continues to produce underwhelming results.

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