Thursday, July 2, 2015
This particular game, one of my plan games, happened to be the first time I'd attended a Mets/Cubs game since 2010, the longest current duration of time I'd gone without seeing a National League team (that onus now falls to the San Diego Padres, whom I have not seen since the first week of the 2013 season—although I do have tickets for when they come to town in late July). Neither of these teams were very good the last time I saw them, and they don't look great now, although they both seem to have some sort of aspirations. The Cubs, who have become the darlings of ESPN thanks to Anthony Rizzo and the Baseball Jesus Kris Bryant, along with a host of other prospects, happen to be one of those teams with a fan base that I really dislike. This started way back in 2008 with an incident involving a Cubs fan that happened to me on the 7 train, followed by my attendance at a Mets/Cubs game at Shea Stadium where Cubs fans were all over the place walking around with their chests puffed out like they'd won 3 championships in 5 seasons. That year, they got bounced in the 1st round of the playoffs and I really enjoyed watching them lose. Since then, my exposure to Cubs fans has been minimal, because I'd only attended two Mets/Cubs games in April of 2010 and while there were Cubs fans there, they didn't seem to make much of an impression on me. My guess is they were annoying and since the Mets won both games I wasn't bothered so much.
Now, it's 5 years later and the Cubs have all these prospects and all this promise, and the Mets have all these prospects and all this promise. But while the Mets fan seems to approach this with wariness, the Cubs fans seem to be a little ahead of themselves. I knew I'd see some Cubs fans at the game last night, but certainly I wouldn't get a repeat of 2008. Well GODDAMN IT, IT HAPPENED AGAIN, BEFORE I EVEN GOT TO THE DAMN STADIUM! Standing on the platform of the 7 train, minding my own business, when some Jackass of Asian descent wearing a Cubs hat and a Cubs shirt comes up to me and says "Sorry, but the Cubs are winning tonight."
You guys are that cocky?
Maybe win something this Century before you start talking shit, guys.
That put me in a mood. Even the Cardinals fans, who really think their shit doesn't stink and bring selfie sticks to games don't act like that. Philly fans might, but only when their team was winning. Now that they stink again, their fans have crawled back into their caves. This shit from a team that's not any better than the Mets and sits 11 games out of 1st place, and they're going to disrespect us in our own building? That put me in such a mood that I wanted the Mets to beat the Cubs so badly last night. I wanted Bartolo Colon to throw a shutout and hit a Home Run to boot. I wanted to see the Mets stick it to the Cubs so bad that their fans would flee the building by the 7th inning stretch.
But that didn't happen. Of course it didn't.
Because this is the Mets, and the Mets can't hit to save their own lives.
I mean, sure, I got part of what I wanted. Bartolo Colon was simply brilliant for his 7 innings of work, allowing the Cubs nothing of consequence other than 3 hits, he struck out Baseball Jesus twice and put the Cubs in their place. Unfortunately, the Mets played like a bunch of assholes and not only did they not hit, they also did an outstanding job of screwing up the meager opportunities they had to score runs and ultimately were done in when their fielding abilities abandoned them in extra innings.
The Mets managed to load the bases against Jon Lester in the 2nd inning, but they didn't score. Problem was Bartolo Colon had to hit and while he did put his bat on the ball, he only flew out, not deep enough to score a run, and Curtis Granderson followed by flying out as well. There were other instances where opportunities arose; Juan Lagares had a leadoff double one inning and at some point there were other leadoff hits, but nothing that would come close to getting a run.
In the 8th inning, the Mets finally had a decent opportunity to score against Pedro Strop. Ruben Tejada reached on an infield error and then Daniel Murphy doubled into the corner. Perhaps Tim Teufel was being overly cautious by holding Tejada at 3rd base, but it seemed to me that if he tried to score, he would have been out by a good 15 feet. Then again, the way the rest of the inning played out, maybe they should have just tried it. Darrell Ceciliani followed, and certainly he ought to have been able to lift a fly ball somewhere, but instead, Terry Collins had the brilliant idea of trying the ol' Suicide Squeeze. And then when that didn't work, Tejada and Murphy both found themselves standing on 3rd base with their jocks in their hands while Starlin Castro tagged everyone. Joe Maddon then thought he might sell the umpires on getting both runners called out, but he wasn't quite that slick, although it would have been fitting for this game if he did. Nonetheless, he didn't need to; Ceciliani struck out anyway, as Cubs fans waved their glo-sticks and Strop celebrated like he'd just closed out a Championship Series.
After that, I figured it was only a matter of time before the Mets screwed themselves out of this game. The Mets fans were getting irritable and defeated. The Cubs fans were squealing and bopping and putting me in an even fouler mood than I already was in. It probably should have happened in the 9th inning. Jeurys Familia came in and gave up a ringing double to Anthony Rizzo that nearly sailed out of the park, or at least the Cubs fans thought it was out. But Familia muscled up to strike out Baseball Jesus. He then walked Denorfia, which set the stage for a double steal attempt where Kevin Plawecki threw a perfect strike down to Daniel Murphy at 3rd, except that Murphy had one of his spastic fits and fell for Rizzo's trick slide. Had Murphy done what he was supposed to do, keep his glove down and slap the tag, Ratso would have been out. Instead, Murphy did some stupid "Olé" tag, and when Rizzo slid, stopped and then stuck his feet into the base, Murphy was somewhere in la la land. And, of course, in a moment that typified the evening for the Mets, Collins challenged the call just to be certain that he was wrong. At that point, I wouldn't have blamed Familia if he'd just grooved one to Castro out of frustration, but instead he sawed Castro off and his looper to Center wasn't deep enough to get the run home. Familia then got Mike Baxter and somehow had gotten himself out of the inning.
Still, the Mets had to do something they hadn't done since Sunday and score a run in order to win this game and shut up the Chicago Pizza Party. But they couldn't. A succession of relievers, Hector Rondon, then Jason Motte, did the same thing every other Cubs pitcher did to the Mets and retire the side with a minimum amount of effort.
In the 11th, the Cubs again rallied. Carlos Torres walked Dexter Fowler to start the inning, which is basically asking for trouble. But he got Ratso to bounce one to Tejada, which should have been a Double Play, except that Flores' throw was bad and Duda's scoop was also bad and the whole thing didn't work and Rizzo was safe. So then Baseball Jesus, who'd struck out 3 times already, singled, and then Chris Coghlan singled, but Rizzo was held at 3rd. And fortuitously, Baseball Jesus didn't realize this and steamed through 2nd base, and was promptly tagged out in the sort of break the Mets needed at that particular point of time. Instead of the bases loaded with 1 out, instead they had 2 outs, and Torres just had to get Castro...
But he didn't. Of course he didn't.
Maybe if Collins still had his challenge, he could have gotten that call at 1st overturned, I don't know from where I was sitting but it looked close enough to give it a shot if he had a shot.
The one run was enough, at that point everyone knew the Mets weren't going to score, but just to be certain Miguel Montero singled home another run to make it 2-0 and about 90% of the Mets fans abandoned ship, leaving me to sit and stew among a smattering of Cubs fans slapping each other with bratwurst. True to form, the Mets managed to make some stupid cosmetic rally in the last of the 11th, bringing Kevin Plawecki to the plate with a chance to win the game if he could somehow get a hold of a pitch from Mother Grimm, but you knew that wasn't going to happen. Grimm could barely get a pitch over to Flores, but he got it up for Plawecki and that put this debacle to a merciful close, and at 10:50 I couldn't have moved fast enough to get out of that ballpark.
I mean, I like a good pitcher's duel and I like a good, close game, but what does it mean when the Mets can't get out of their own way? The Cubs didn't do anything particularly good to win this game. The Mets handed it to them, except that they didn't do it by making a bunch of errors and pitching badly, they did it by either not hitting or screwing up every single opportunity they had to score a run. The Mets offense has reached a level of comic absurdity because every single game, their pitching has given them a chance to stay in the game and give them a chance to win and they just can't do anything about it. If this were another era, the pitchers would all band together and make the hitters clean the latrines after a game like this. In fact, I wouldn't put it past them to try something like this now. It probably wouldn't fix anything, but maybe it would give the hitters a wake-up call that maybe they ought to try and get their act together.