Saturday, May 7, 2016

Bizarro Baseball Planet

San Diego has, for many years, kind of flown under the wire for Mets fans as a place where the team traditionally gets sucked into a vortex of bad Baseball, but I think the past two games of this series has been a reminder to us all just how awful a place this is. Never mind the 4-30 record the Mets have had there in the last 10 years. Never mind the spate of 2-1 losses and walk-off Grand Slams. These past two nights haven't held to the standard formula but the formula they have held to is just as irritating to watch.

In these two games, every ground ball the Mets have hit has been directly at a shifted infielder. Every fly ball that seems destined for a double or more has been run down by Jon Jay, or Matt Kemp, or Joe Shemp, or that Sebastian Janikowski Travis Jankowski fellow that comes in late in games. Mets pitchers have seen their mechanics desert them at inopportune times and innings that should have been over extended by bearded ragamuffins or by umpires who suddenly won't pull the trigger on strikes and check swings that are usually universally called the other way. 2-out RBI hits are being given up to batters that have no business getting 2-out hits off of these Mets pitchers. And, of course, games are being saved by Fernando Rodney and his Rally Plantain. Yes, the same Fernando Rodney who seems to get picked off the MLB scrap heap every other season.

It makes sense that all this happens in a ballpark where every out is punctuated by this weird Vietnamese Gong noise.

This isn't like every other stadium where the Mets traditionally have bad luck. For example, Atlanta has been a place where it seems predestined that nothing will go right. In Los Angeles, things only break against the Mets when the Dodgers are on one of their weird voodoo streaks, but in other instances, the Mets can actually do well there. Colorado has that rarefied air so nothing that happens there makes sense. San Diego, all this stuff is like gentle bad luck. It seems like they lull you into this false sense of comfort with the nice weather and cool California attitude and the rebirth of the city itself. The Padres seem to kill you with kindness. They don't destroy the Mets with spirit-crushing blowouts, they just sort of beat you innocuously. Last night, they beat Noah Syndergaard by scoring a run in the 1st, a run in the 5th and that was it, and they weren't even loud runs. Drew Pomeranz beat the Mets by throwing an assortment of curveballs and sliders and off-speed stuff and somehow even though he really had to battle his way through 5 innings, the numbers say he allowed 1 hit and no runs and got a win.

Then, of course, there was the home plate play involving Asdrubal Cabrera, Alexei Ramirez and Derek Norris and it figures Norris was involved since he's the Padres #1 Met Killer, and yes, I realize Teufel was probably just trying to force the Padres to make the play there but it essentially ran them out of an inning. It makes no difference when Derek Norris dropped the ball, and as far as I could tell he dropped it well after the tag was made. So we could have a whole debate on what constitutes a caught ball, I guess? That seems to be kind of fitting for San Diego.

Losing the first two games of this series is hardly inspiring, even if in the grand scheme of things it doesn't make that much of a difference. But if this is how this West Coast trip is going to play out, then we've got some trouble. Hopefully this is just a San Diego thing.

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