Friday, May 1, 2015

That Old Uncomfortable Feeling

Last night was my 4th game of the year at Citi Field, my second with George, the first April Night Game that really felt like a true April Night Game, and the night where my suspicions and everyone else's fears were confirmed: that the Mets were finally regressing to the mean after their raging hot start.

George and I had this discussion peppered throughout the game, which dissolved into a debacle rather quickly after a nice start. The Mets were playing at a mostly unsustainable pace over the first 15 or so games of the season, and that particular streak coming on the heels of 6 seasons of abject misery was enough to get any Mets fan gassed up. The problem is that the Mets aren't quite as good a team as they showed during that stretch. Eventually, these things have to even out, because that's Baseball. The Mets also aren't as bad as they looked at times, particularly last night, when they looked really bad, and the Nationals looked like the same team that comes in to Citi Field and routinely beats the Mets into submission.

But that's how the game played out. The Mets had multiple opportunities with Stephen Strasburg out of sorts and on the ropes, and having some weird silent argument with his Catcher Wilson Ramos, but for all their opportunities, they only managed to plate two runs in the 2nd inning, and then Strasburg settled down and stopped the Mets cold from there. On the other side, Jacob deGrom was humming along, retiring the first 9 batters he faced before walking Denard Span to lead off the 4th. Yunel Escobar followed and by now I'm sure we all know what happened from there. Escobar laid a DP ground ball on a tee for Wilmer Flores, Flores booted the ball, lost the play, and the game basically went down the shitter from there.

It's easy to point to Flores' error as the reason the Mets lost this game, but in the larger picture, whether that error happens or not, the Mets would have lost anyway because they stopped hitting. deGrom wasn't great but the 3rd inning can't totally be pinned on him (allowing 3 runs on 1 hit and 2 run-scoring outs is more indicative of the fact that he did a good job of getting himself out of a jam he shouldn't have been in). The 6th, when the Nationals started ringing hits off him, was, however, and then the 9th inning was just windowdressing from there. Point is, the Mets had 2 runs on 4 hits in the first two innings and after that, they had 3 hits and that was it. Yes, they bunched two of them together in the 6th and knocked Strasburg out of the game, but if he hadn't been all cocked up in the first two innings and gassed himself, he probably would have stayed in the game. But Murphy was 0-for-4, Campbell was 0-for-4, Cuddyer was 1-for-4, Flores was 1-for-4 and too much of that isn't going to work against Washington. The 8-2 loss is a pretty good example, and again, it's not because the score was 8-2, it's because even if that 3rd inning is different, the Mets still lose 5-2. 

Mix this in with the weather, which started off as one of those nights when it posited to be mildly comfortable at Citi Field (game time temperature 58˚), but the temperature dropped as night fell and it turned into one of those nights where the scoreboard might have said 54˚, but in the seats, it felt about 34˚. I don't know if that's what made the rest of the crowd cranky (and cranky is a good word to describe it, particularly after so many of them petulantly booed Wilmer Flores in the bottom of the 4th), but that's what did it to me. It did it to George, too. This isn't a recent development, but in prior years, we had no qualms about sitting around through a game all night, no matter how cold it was, and no matter how long it took us to get home, or how early we had to go to work the next morning, and no matter how shitty the game was playing out. You go to a Mets game, it's different from watching it on TV because you feel a greater sense of investment in the proceedings. I hate seeing the Mets lose, period. But when I go there and they lose, I like it even less. There's a lot of stress behind it and you want to stick by your team until the last bitter out.

But, let's face it. We're getting old. We're not 26 anymore and our aptitudes for sitting through these games, particularly when it's 5-2 or 8-2 and you know the Mets aren't coming back, is starting to grow thin. George said it himself, he doesn't want to sound disloyal or like he's a bad fan, but on nights like this, he's rooting for the game to be over quickly, not for the Mets to come back and win. And, oddly, I felt the same way. In the bottom of the 9th, I said something to the effect of "They better either score 7 runs, or none at all." because let's face it. The temperature felt about appropriate for Binghamton at that point, and who wants to see the Mets dick around and load the bases and score 3 runs only to have Daniel Murphy hit a foul pop up to the 3rd baseman for the last out? If you're going to rally, rally and win, don't rally, still lose and keep us there longer than necessary. Fortunately, the Mets spared us this by going down in order in the 9th and getting us out of there quickly. That might have been the most considerate thing they did all night.

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