Friday, September 18, 2015

The Hyperbolic Chamber

I've dropped several barbs here and there about just how much it bothers me that the Mets have to play the Yankees now, at this time in the season when these teams should be worrying about their own business and not worrying about making some sort of weird statement and trying to "take back the city." The Subway Series is a charming little diversion in the midst of a long season that should be held in June or July, when it's really hot out and nobody cares.

But, the schedule gods decided to throw everyone a little shitburger here in mid-September and scheduled the second half of the Subway Series here. In the grand scheme of things, no, it doesn't matter very much because at this point the Mets just need to pull the Baseball equivalent of running out the clock and just win enough to offset whatever Washington does until eventually they run out of games to make up their deficit. Still, having to play the Yankees while doing this isn't helpful, because the Subway Series games are always played under this weird microscope where more pressure is placed on the players than normally occurs and the fans become especially stupid.

Nonetheless, as much as I dislike it, the games must go on. And in an instance where the Mets just have to shut up and win games, they shut up and won the game on Friday 5-1, behind a solid effort in the pressure cooker from Steven Matz. Matz once again had a hard 1st inning, when the Yankees scored their lone run, but eventually he settled down and gutted his way through 6 innings, giving up 7 hits and striking out 4. Lucas Duda tied the game with a 2nd inning Home Run off of Maa Tanaka, Daniel Murphy gave the Mets the lead in the 6th with another Home Run, and in the 7th, Juan Uribe did what he usually does and come up with a big hit, this time with a pinch hit Home Run to extend the lead.

These were all quite nice but perhaps most useful were the bridge innings put in by Hansel Robles, who's really come on strong down the stretch as a serviceable arm, and Addison Reed, who pitched the 8th inning as Tyler Clippard was out with a "sore back (or the need for about 4-5 days of rest and not pitching)." Jeurys Familia had a rather scary 9th inning, as the Yankees loaded the bases on about 40 feet worth of hits and a walk but he eventually finished the deal, getting annoying Brett Gardner to fly out and Franch Headley to strike out to end the game.

All in all, this actually wasn't a particularly exciting game, start to finish. 5-1 games usually aren't. Obviously, because it's the Mets and Yankees and the Subway Series Hype Machine was well in play, things get blown up to be a little more than they are. Steven Matz pitched a good game and was the winning pitcher. Since it's the Subway Series, Steven Matz is now a Big Game Pitcher who comes through with a clutch performance. Lucas Duda lights it up when the lights are brightest. Juan Uribe gets...well,  Juan Uribe gets big hits whenever he wants, it seems, Subway Series or not. But that's the point. As much as we want these to be "just another game," it never will be. When something big happens in one of these games, it's remembered forever whether we want to remember it or not. And that's why I don't like that the Mets have to play these games now, at this time of the year. It's a distraction, and right now the Mets don't need an unnecessary distraction. If that wasn't bad enough, Saturday's game is the FOX game of the week, which means we're going to be treated to an afternoon of Stepford Baseball, and then, of course, Sunday's game will be The Biggest Game In The Galaxy on ESPN. Trust me, I know the Mets to a man could care less, and maybe it's good preparation for what's coming up, but Mets and Mets fans need to worry about the Mets winning, and not the Mets beating the Yankees in mid-September.

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