Friday, September 30, 2016

Beyond The 162

The primary objective for the Mets going into the final weekend of the regular season was pretty simple: Win 1 and guarantee they'll play past Sunday. Win 2, and they'll play on Wednesday, at Home. They've accomplished 50% of this goal.

The Phillies, in spite of basically playing out the string and in spite of the fact that the Mets bombarded their pitching staff rather mercilessly last weekend, were a team that made me kind of nervous, because they're just the team that would like nothing more than to kick the Mets in the nuts and screw up their season. Fortunately, the desire of the Mets was enough to offset the spoiler aspirations of the Phillies, as they rode more hot hitting from Jay Bruce and more clutch pitching from Robert Gsellman to a 5-1 victory. They might have been able to clinch outright, but for the Cardinals winning. So the Mets will just have to try to wrap it up themselves tomorrow.

It being a Friday night game, I missed a large swath of the proceedings because I'd fallen asleep. So I didn't see the Phillies take an early lead, I didn't see the Mets again have a tough time with Alec Asher early on, and I didn't see the Mets tie the game on a Bruce single and take the lead for good on a subsequent T.J. Rivera single in the 4th. I also didn't see Bruce hit his 4th Home Run in 6 games in the 7th inning. Hey, it was a long week and I was tired!

The downside of course was that I ended up missing Gsellman's fine outing altogether. Though he wasn't as sparkling as he was last Sunday in his 7 shutout innings, he still pitched well enough, holding the Phillies to 1 run over 6 and, well, being another one of "those guys" who've sort of just appeared here over the last two months and wound up playing a major role in getting the Mets to this point. You can't plan on these things—hell, outside of him getting a small headshot and bio buried in the recesses of the Mets yearbook which you haven't picked up since April, you probably had no idea who Gsellman even was—but this is what happens in Baseball sometimes. You get contributions from guys you've never heard of and find yourself after 160 games now guaranteed of playing no less than 163 for the season.

So, now, the Mets have a chance to spare themselves of any weird tiebreaker scenario with one more victory tomorrow. Unfortunately, this game somehow got co-opted by FOX and moved to 1pm, which is kind of a turd in everyone's punchbowl, but the Mets will just have to make the best of it, and so will we, even though I'd rather the Mets clinching call not be screeched by Matt Vasgersian or whoever is doing the game.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Impossible Is Possible

It's the general stance of the Mets fan to kind of keep their asshole extra tight during the final few days of a Pennant Chase. There's not much anyone can do to help this; it's just the side effect of too many seasons where they've been in close contention only to have something get screwed up and everything fall apart at the end. But the way this 2016 race has played out, with the Mets storming back from the fringes the way they have has been something else. I'm not sure that I've seen the Mets do what they've done this year before—the only thing remotely close I'd guess would have to be 1973—6 years before I was born—but dammit, the Mets keep cobbling together these victories. Their 5-2 win over the Marlins finished off their 6th series win in September, their 16th win of the month, and combined with the Cardinals losing, and the Giants losing, put them 1 1/2 games ahead of San Francisco and 2 1/2 games ahead of St. Louis...with only 3 games remaining.

I really hate to say this, but for the first time, I'm starting to think that the Mets might actually pull this off.

How they've managed to do this, I'm not sure. But it seems to be exemplified by guys like Seth Lugo, who aren't given much in the way of attention and who might have a real rude regression to the mean at some point, but they continue to play over their heads and surprise the hell out of everyone. Lugo gave up an early Home Run to Martin Prado, which for the Mets is about on par with giving up a Home Run to, say, Greg Dobbs, but nothing after that as he navigated his way through 5.1 innings and received plenty of backup, first on a second inning 2-run Home Run from James Loney, who seems to be Mr. Marlins Park, that tied the game, and later another 2-run Home Run from Jay Bruce, who all of a sudden has come back to life, and probably at just the right time.

The remainder of the game was bullpen and more bullpen, as Hansel Robles, Fernando Salas and Addison Reed bridged things up to Jeurys Familia, who closed out the 9th inning for his 50th Save of the season.

So, the Mets are now finished with the Marlins for the season, and after a really difficult and emotional 3 games in Miami the Mets could use the day off they've got on Thursday. St. Louis and San Francisco are both playing, but no matter what happens on either front, the Mets will go into the weekend still leading the chase, and if things break right, they could conceivably have this thing wrapped up by Friday night and actually get to relax for a couple of days over the weekend. But—again. I'm getting ahead of myself. But after all the crap that's gone on this season and everything the Mets have had to overcome, it's quite a story the way things have played out, isn't it?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


After the raw and brutal emotion that took place Monday night, Tuesday night's game appeared much more businesslike by comparison. By businesslike, of course, it meant the Mets went back to the business at hand of trying to hang on to their slim lead in the Wildcard race. They amazingly remain on top of this 3-team jumble and maintained a 1/2 game lead over the Giants and 1 1/2 games over the Cardinals as they overwhelmed the Marlins late and coasted to a 12-1 victory.

At this point, I still don't feel comfortable looking too far forward--and right now anything past Wednesday night might be too far forward—but if this was Noah Syndergaard's final start of the regular season, he certainly finished with a bang, as his 6 innings of work were punctuated by no walks and 8 strikeouts to go along with a run on 5 hits. Assuming he's not needed on Sunday, he wraps up his first full season with a 14-9 record, a 2.60 ERA, 218 strikeouts, and more often than not a dazzling performance, which is what he delivered on Tuesday night.

It helps, of course, that he was backed by a pair of Home Runs, one by Yoenis Cespedes that clanged off the Loria Mystery Machine in Center Field, and another by Jay Bruce, his second in the last few days as he's continued his final week resurgence. They struck early against Tom Koehler, whom they were facing for the 14th time this season, and then again late, as they mashed home 8 runs in the 8th and 9th innings to blow open a close game against the deep back end of Miami's September Bullpen. Curtis Granderson was involved, Lucas Duda drove home 3 runs, and even Juan Lagares chipped in by swinging a bat and hitting a sacrifice fly to ice things up.

The 12 runs were great, and showed a continuation of the offensive explosion the Mets have been on over the last several games (Monday night being the aberration, although Monday night was an aberration of everything). However, 12 runs was the magic number for the night, as the Giants scored 12 runs and won, and the Cardinals scored 12 runs and won, and so for another day everyone's just in the same place. On the other hand, they're in the same place and now there's one less day on the calendar.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

An Escape

Baseball, as simple as it often is in a generally absurd world, possesses wonderful powers of healing and verisimilitude, as though at times it plays out the way life ought to be, but mostly the way life is. The point I'm trying to make is that when we need it to help us forget what ails us and get us centered again, it does that. When we need it to be the first step in a healing process, that's what it is. We as Mets fans know this from way back in 2001, at a time when the world was in mourning, I know it on a personal level from last year, and of course the Marlins players and fans experienced it last night.

I've made plenty of bones about my feelings on the Marlins as a franchise, but for one night it takes a back seat. For one night, even I would have rather seen Jose Fernandez strike out Yoenis Cespedes in a key moment and rip his jersey off in exuberance. I'd then grouse about it afterward in yet another tongue-in-cheek rant. Instead, I watched his teammates, his fans, and even the Mets have to play out this game on the verge of tears the entire night, mourning the man and the talent and joy he brought to the game on a daily basis. I would have rather the Mets had the opportunity to go out and beat him, so I could crow about how the Mets went out and beat their best. I'd rather have to write about so many other things than this.

But that's how the world works. A really unique and talented ballplayer is gone far too soon. And even in the midst of a Pennant Race, if the Mets had to be the foil, that's just the way it had to be. Baseball was Jose Fernandez's muse, his Art. But for the Marlins, it now has to be their escape from the sadness and the beginning of their healing process. We move forward from here and slowly try to get back to normal. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Asking For More

The Mets 2016 Home Finale fell upon me much quicker than I'd anticipated this season. I mentioned it at the beginning of this homestand and it seems much more prescient a thought today because now the Mets are done at home for the regular season...but none of us have any idea whether or not there's more to be said at Citi Field for 2016. If Sunday is to be it, well, the Mets went out with a bang, as they hit continually, and Philadelphia's horrible bullpen seemed all too happy to hand them baserunners and once things got rolling, they couldn't stop and so the final score wound up at 17-0, which is quite an accomplishment for a team that spent 4 months of the season looking like they were hard pressed to score 17 runs in a week.

The game of course began with the horrible Jose Fernandez news. There isn't much I could say on the matter that hasn't already been said more eloquently than I ever would, and of course rooting for a rival team of his I viewed him with trepidation because I knew he was lurking in the shadows every time the Mets and Marlins met. I had the good fortune to see him pitch in person twice during the 2016 season, but sadly I won't get to see him again.

That seemed to be hanging over Baseball as a whole on Sunday, and in tribute Yoenis Cespedes was seen hanging a Fernandez Mets jersey in the dugout prior to the game. But then the bell sounded and it was time to get back to work, as much as possible. George and I were once again present, I for my 21st game of the season, and oddly enough my 400th Mets game overall, and just trying to salvage this finale and finish out an uneven year on a winning note.

The Mets, of course, were kind enough to commemorate the occasion by plating 17 runs, which was not only a personal best for me but also tied a club record for runs in a home game and largest shutout victory. For the shutout part, we have to thank Robert Gsellman, who after three days in which the bullpen was utilized early and often, stabilized everything by tossing 7 shutout innings and not really breaking much of a sweat in the process. This gave everybody key involved another day off; neither Reed nor Familia has pitched since Thursday and at this late part of the season, getting them some extra rest could be as crucial as anything.

Gsellman also added to his exploits by picking up his first Major League hit, a 3rd inning bunt single that neither Ryan Howard or Jake Thompson seemed to want to pick up until it was too late. I didn't realize this until after the fact, but it seems Gsellman has a rotator cuff injury in his non-throwing shoulder and can't swing a bat, so all he can do is bunt. And the Phillies still couldn't do anything about it. Gsellman didn't score, but he was one of the few Met baserunners on this day that managed to not do that.

Thompson and a succession of other pitchers once again had a really hard time. I mean, that goes without saying when you allow 17 runs in a game, but those 17 runs came on only 14 hits. The Phillies pitchers threw 201 pitches, and in the process hit 4 batters, walked another 9 batters and threw 3 wild pitches in a performance so embarrassing that a kinder blogger might spare them from having their names associated with this mess, but in case you were wondering, Thompson was succeeded by Phil Klein, then Colton Murray, Frank Herrmann, Patrick Schuster and finally Luis Garcia.

When this happens, well, everyone has a good day at the plate. Jose Reyes for one managed to bat with the bases loaded 4 times, and ended up walking twice and hitting a 2-run double in the 8th that probably should have only been a single except that he kept running and forced Brandon Nimmo to 3rd. Asdrubal Cabrera hit a Grand Slam in the 7th. Curtis Granderson hit his 30th Home Run of the season in the 4th. Rene Rivera, T.J. Rivera and even Jay Bruce chipped in with 2 hits each. But when you get to 17 runs, you sort of have to just keep going, and that's what happened in the 8th inning. The Mets already led 11-0 and Schuster had in fact managed to get two outs before the inning caved in on him, and it seemed as though once Rivera reached he just lost his bearings and things spiraled out of control from there. Reyes hit his double, Eric Campbell hit a 2-run single and after Schuster was mercifully removed, Michael Conforto finished out the scoring with a 2-run double of his own.

And, so, it was down to that wistful final half inning of the afternoon, and with a chant of "WE WANT PLAYOFFS!" echoing throughout Citi Field, Jerry Blevins finished off the day and the home season with a scoreless 9th inning. what? Now comes another week of games, beginning with what's going to be a really emotionally charged series in Miami on Monday, and then a visit to Philadelphia where they'll get to see this pitching staff again. Fortunately, there's an off day in there, too, so the Mets will only have to use 4 starters from here on out. Colon, Syndergaard, Lugo, Gsellman...and that's what we're riding with. However it may fall, it falls.

For the 2016 regular season, I am done. For the second season in a row, I managed to make it to 21 games, although not necessarily in the way my plan intended me to. I took liberal advantage of the ticket exchange policies and that's what made this possible. The Mets were not as cooperative this season as they were in past years, as my record for the year was 10-11, marking my first losing season since 2009. But, the 10 wins mark three years in a row that I've seen 10 wins. I can thank teams like Atlanta (0-3) and Washington (2-2) for their contributions to this losing season. The Phillies (3-0) were much easier for me, to the point where I am now on a 9-game winning streak against Philadelphia. Far as milestones, yes, I'd mentioned that today was my 400th game (this does not include Postseason games). This season, I saw the Mets win two extra inning games on Walkoff Home Runs, I saw them score 12 runs in an inning and 17 runs in a game, both personal bests. I didn't see any one starting pitcher more than most others, the count ends up with Harvey, Syndergaard and Matz 4 times each, Colon 3 times, deGrom twice, and Montero, Verrett, Lugo and Gsellman once.

Now, as I keep saying...when am I back? Will it be October 5th? Will it be October 10th? It could be April 3rd, 2017 for all I know. But it will be at some point. Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

No Cigar

This game will forever go into the books as a 10-8 Mets loss, simply because they couldn't overcome the 10 runs that Sean Gilmartin and Rafael Montero spotted the Phillies early in the evening. And I know that at this time of the year losses really can't be viewed as positive anything.

But the Mets did show me something in their spirited comeback on Saturday night, which is that all of these young fellows that have gone back and forth from the Major Leagues and Las Vegas, they can play. This sort of output in a mostly hopeless situation kind of underscores the depth the Mets have built for themselves through the organization, and when you have guys like T.J. Rivera, Brandon Nimmo, Gavin Cecchini and Ty Kelly really raring to get into games and break their asses, it's a positive. Teams need players like this on their roster. None of them are stars, none of them are going to light the world on fire, but they're going to go balls to the wall in every opportunity they get just to show you that they can do it at this level. And these guys, particularly Rivera and Nimmo, have been in the middle of a lot of rallies this month, and Cecchini and Kelly had their noses in plenty last night.

In the continuation of my "Summer of Long Island," I was out all day and so I didn't see any of the game, I only heard about it in bits and pieces. When I got word that Sean Gilmartin hadn't made it out of the 1st inning and allowed 5 runs, I sort of moved my thoughts to other things. This one was clearly done before it started and so whatever else was going on around the Majors was just antimatter. I'd found myself in a diner on Old Country Road at some point in the evening, when the game appeared totally out of reach, and a large group of people--multiple families, it seemed--came in. Most of them were dressed in Mets gear, which led me to believe that they'd been at the game, although based on where we were and the time of night, if they were at the game, they must have thrown in the towel after 2 innings, so perhaps we were just solidly placed in the Middle of Mets country (although for whatever reason the TV in this diner did not have the Mets game on). But at any rate, over the course of the evening, they were loudly discussing the Wildcard race and the Mets chances in a Mansplaining sort of fashion, but in no way did I want to involve myself in going over to the table and correcting them. I try to make it a point not to get involved in other people's affairs like that. They were also talking about the Home Finale coming up on Sunday and discussing how Philadelphia's scheduled starter "Was no good" and they "should beat him." I'll agree with the "should beat him" part. But I don't know enough of Jake Thompson to say that.

I know about as much of Alec Asher as I do of Thompson (SEGUE MASTER), and Asher shut the Mets down but good for 4 innings, and then allowed 4 runs in the 5th inning, but part of that was the result of a pair of errors and so none of the runs were unearned. And by this point, the Mets had emptied their bench so whatever rally they could put togther had that cosmetic feel to it, just to let everyone know they were still there and doing the best they could.

Then, of course, in the 6th, Philly went to their awful bullpen and the Mets kept ploughing away, scoring on Cecchini's first Major League hit among other things, but at this point I was still in "At least they're making it interesting" mode. By this time, we were driving again, and as it usually does when we're on the way back from Long Island, our route took us directly past Citi Field, where I noticed that the video board facing Northern Blvd didn't actually have the score on it, which I thought made no sense, but then I looked and on the top of the stadium, behind the Left Field seats, there is a board that has the score on it, and even lets you know that you can tune to WOR 710 to listen to the game. This didn't happen for reasons I've already covered, but at least I got the score.

At that point it was still 10-6, but the Mets continued to creep back against the Pu-pu platter that is Philly's bullpen. Cecchini drove home a second run in the 8th and the Mets had the tying run at the plate, but Rivera popped out and so did Nimmo. In the 9th, the Mets made one more run at it against Michael Mariot. Jay Bruce pinch hit with one out and hit a Home Run, which felt like his first hit in a Month, to make it 10-8. And by this point I'd gotten home and turned the game on, just in time to see Mariot walk Eric Campbell and Michael Conforto to bring up Lucas Duda, certainly a good candidate to fire the winning blow. But he popped out and flung his bat away in such a display out of character. Travis d'Arnaud followed and, well, he could pop one out too, but he didn't either, instead grounding back to Mariot and the Phillies hung on to win.

You try not to get too worked up about these losses, which are bound to happen when you go from the specter of Matz and Syndergaard starting games to Ynoa and Gilmartin. This patchwork rotation stuff can only carry you so far and tonight it bit the Mets in the ass. Fortunately, the Mets might be able to get through the rest of this thing with only 4 starters thanks to a well-placed off day so maybe we don't have to do this again. Either way, the Giants won, the Wildcard race is tied again, and now the Mets have one more Home Game left, and I'll be there, and I have no idea if it's going to be the last time I'll be at Citi Field for 2016. So it stands to be a really weird day all around.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Encore, Encore

After the breathless exuberance of Thursday night's game, the Mets, one would imagine, would be hard-pressed to come up with a fitting encore. And although it required far fewer players and two fewer innings than it did on Thursday, the Mets still did what was necessary in order to win on Friday. A 3-run Home Run from Michael Conforto capped off a 6-run 5th inning that brought the Mets back from an early deficit, and in spite of Gabriel Ynoa only pitching two innings and the bullpen figuring out the rest of the game, the Mets still managed to beat the Phillies 10-5 to keep pace in the standings for another day.

If you blinked, you missed Ynoa on this night. I did my usual Friday Night trick and came home and fell asleep, so I missed him entirely. I'm told, although I haven't seen for myself, that he wasn't especially good, and gave up 2 runs in the second inning before Terry Collins started stirring his Pot-o-Ballplayers and pinch-hit for him in the bottom half of the inning with men in scoring position. The ploy didn't work there, and in fact Logan Verrett followed Ynoa to the mound and allowed a Home Run to Maikel Franco in the 3rd, but that was it, as he pitched two innings before turning things over to Josh Smoker in the 5th.

The Mets didn't managed much of anything off of Jeremy Hellickson early, although they'd had some earlier success against him. Travis d'Arnaud's RBI double represented his first RBI in close to a month, but until that 5th inning, the Mets hadn't done much. But then they started hitting, and it turned into one of those groundswell rallies, where they load the bases, and then start moving the chains. Curtis Granderson singled to drive home a run, Kelly Johnson singled to put the Mets ahead, Hellickson was done for the night, and his replacement, Frank Herrmann, allowed the 3-run Home Run for Conforto that extended the Mets lead to 7-3.

These Phillies, as I've said all season, are game though, in spite of their porous pitching staff, and they fought back in the 6th against Smoker. Darin Ruf hit a 2-run Home Run to make the score 7-5, and in the 7th, both Erik Goeddel and Josh Edgin had a hard time as they loaded the bases and brought Tommy Joseph to the plate. Collins then went to Hansel Robles, who is an adventure in and of himself, but Robles on this night was game to the challenge and induced Joseph to ground to Reyes, who started the 5-3 Double Play to end the Philly threat.

From there, it got easier, as the Mets took advantage of the awful back end of Philly's bullpen to tack on 3 more runs, and Robles ended up pulling a reverse of what he did in an emergency against KC and finishing out the final 2.2 innings himself en route to his first Major League Save.

Then, of course, it was on to watching the scoreboard, since this game, while not as lengthy as Thursday's 4 hours, 23 minutes, ran a good 3 hours and 40 minutes, overlapping the start of the Giants in San Diego. The Padres did what they needed to do in order to help the Mets, winning 7-2, and once again giving the Mets a lead in the Wildcard race, however temporary it may seem. And with now 8 games to go, it all has a temporary feel to it. Tomorrow will bring what it will.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Combination Of All Things

The adage goes, I believe, that each time you go to a Major League Baseball game, you have a chance to see something you've never seen before. Last night at Citi Field was my 20th game of the 2016 season and my 399th in total. I've seen lots of things happen at a Baseball game.
But I don't think I've ever been to a game that packed all of these things into one crazy night, with the backdrop being the Mets in the thick of a Pennant Race and coming off a 3-game losing streak. In spite of all sorts of things going wrong, the Mets managed to get up off the mat and tie the game in the 9th inning on a lightning-like Home Run from Jose Reyes. In the 11th inning, the Mets fell behind again, and with the clock pushing midnight, Asdrubal Cabrera tolled the bell for a 3-run Home Run to give the Mets a 9-8 victory that has to rank up there with some of the most rousing games I've ever been to.

This long night of Baseball began innocently enough, with Seth Lugo on the mound for the Mets and Adam Morgan for the Phillies. The imminent drama that would unfold over the course of the evening barely seemed plausible given a matchup like this. The Mets jumped ahead in the 2nd on a Curtis Granderson 2-run Home Run, and with Lugo mostly humming along, everything seemed fine. The Phillies scored a run in the 4th after Cesar Hernandez hit what was kind of a fluky triple to lead off the inning, and Roman Quinn followed with an RBI groundout.

Then, of course, the Phillies ambushed Lugo in the 5th. They'd been hitting fly balls off of Lugo most of the night, and of course the perfect storm for bad tends to be the combination of a fly ball pitcher on the Mets and Ryan Howard. And of course, Howard led off the 5th and blasted a Home Run out into the night of the Center Field seats. This, of course, is mere rite of passage for Lugo, since Howard has hit what, 79 career Home Runs against the Mets? However, when Cameron Rupp followed with a Home Run of his own to put the Phillies ahead, that wasn't a rite of passage, that was a sign that Lugo was probably done for the night and thus the parade of relievers would begin.

The Mets managed to rally back in the last of the 5th. Ty Kelly hit for Lugo and walked, moved up on what was charitably scored an infield hit by Cabrera and a Morgan Wild Pitch, and then scored when Yoenis Cespedes stuck his bat out and flicked a single to right. In the 7th, Cespedes put the Mets on his back again, finishing off a two-out rally against Michael Mariot by nailing a double to score Reyes.

The Mets have been using their bullpen liberally and often lately, which has been a side effect of a decimated starting rotation combined with taking advantage of every possible expanded roster spot. As such, it took Sean Gilmartin and Erik Goeddel to complete the 6th and Fernando Salas to pitch the 7th, and once Addison Reed hit the mound in the 8th, it seemed like things would be stable. Of course, how wrong I was. Reed allowed about 20 feet worth of singles sandwiched around a sac bunt and the Phillies had runners on 1st and 3rd and 1 out and Maikel Franco at the plate. I mused that what Reed needed was a Mike Pelfrey Special—the bowling ball that's chopped right at the Shortstop for an easy DP. What Reed got instead was something completely different—the ball flying over the fence and into the Phillies bullpen for a 3-run Home Run that put the Phillies ahead 6-4 and sent a multitude of fans streaming for the exits.

A rather fair-weather fellow with a man-bun sitting directly in front of me stood up, slapped his cap down and started screaming, "HERE IT IS, THE GREAT COLLAPSE OF 2016!" This, of course, was not helpful at all and turned into one of those moments where, were I more of a hothead, I might have kicked him in his bun or smacked the shit out of him. I know that there's this general trepidation because the Mets are in a pennant race with 10 games to go, and I know that there's a whole quadrant of Mets fans that think Terry Collins just fell out of the stupid tree. But how is it a collapse when the Mets just came back from 5.5 games out altogether, ran past 4 teams and somehow sit tied for the 1st Wildcard just 27 games later? And never mind that, how about the fact that the Mets have done this while 3/5 of their starting rotation is hurt (and if you want to throw Wheeler in the equation, that's 4/6), 2 guys that were in the Opening Day lineup still standing, and the team is basically stuck throwing out lineups that include Alejandro De Aza, Rene Rivera and on this night Eric Campbell, and they're relying on unknowns like Brandon Nimmo and T.J. Rivera for meaningful contributions? The fact that the Mets are in this position at all is a minor miracle. This is a team that's refused to throw in the towel all season. But this jackass is screaming collapse. Really, I think he should have just admitted he actually was a fan of the other New York team rather than continuing his charade, but as the 8th moved to the 9th and he continued his nonsensical rants, I realized I was doing myself no favors sticking around where I was, and I did something rather out of character for me—I left my seat and walked down to the Field Level, where I ended up just standing around the concourse, figuring that if this was going to end, at least I'd get out of there quick and get away from Yelly McDoofus.

Hansel Robles cleaned up Reed's mess in the 8th and he and Josh Edgin got the Phillies in the 9th, while the Mets managed nothing off of Joely Rodriguez in the last of the 8th, and while he apparently was ready to come out for the last of the 9th, Pete Mackanin decided to get cute and once Travis d'Arnaud was announced to hit for De Aza, he pulled Rodriguez in favor of his closer, Jeanmar Gomez, which you had to figure was coming because why the hell would Joely Rodriguez be closing games? And at this point, Terry Collins decided to just throw his entire roster at the wall. He called back d'Arnaud and sent up Brandon Nimmo, who got a hit in a similar spot on Wednesday, and of course Nimmo did what he does best and hit a line drive single. Jay Bruce followed and was met with bewildered looks, calls of "Where's Duda?!" and, oddly, cheers, because hey, if Bruce could get a hold of one and tie the game, maybe all would be forgiven. But that didn't happen. Although Bruce hung in for a while he still struck out, which was only helpful in the sense that he didn't hit into a Double Play, which was quite fortunate because Reyes followed by drilling a 2-1 pitch into the Mets bullpen to tie the game and spark a frenzy of crazy people jumping all over the concourse.

So much for quietly slinking off into the night. Rather than a silent finish, the real action was just getting started. Mackanin, now having burned his closer, removed Gomez from the game in favor of Hector Neris, who walked Cespedes but allowed nothing more of consequence. So, it was off to Extra Innings, and after not catching an Extra Inning game for the first 5 months of the season, I was now in for my second in less than a month, and this one was coming on the heels of an already long game, as the clock was pushing 10:40 and although it was Thursday, it was still a school night. At this point, I decided I was good for one more inning, and then I had to get out of there, loath as I was to do so.

Jeurys Familia came in for the 10th and worked a quick, uneventful inning, and Severino Gonzalez did the same, in spite of the fact that Lucas Duda came up as a pinch hitter for Rivera and came within about 6 inches of hitting a Game Winning Home Run. In fact, as it was more or less directly in front of me, I couldn't quite see just where the ball landed and for a second I, and the people standing near me, thought it was gone. But Duda pulled up around 1st and wheeled back to the plate...where he then struck out.

Familia came back for the 11th and I held my ground...The 10th was quick. One more inning, I tell myself. Next thing I know, it'll be 1am and the 15th inning if I'm not careful. Freddy Galvis led off by lining a double in the alley in Left, which wasn't helpful at all. Familia then rebounded by striking out Aaron Altherr and getting Tommy Joseph to ground out. With two outs, he then walked Hernandez intentionally, which was the right move with A.J. Ellis and his .190 batting average on deck. If Ellis beats you, he beats you. Unfortunately, that's what Ellis did, floating a little dying quail of a single in front of Nimmo to score Galvis and put the Phillies back ahead. Collins then did nobody any favors by continuing to run more guys in from the bullpen in an attempt to get the 3rd out. Jerry Blevins came in and hit Odubel Herrera. Collins then removed Blevins for Jim Henderson. Henderson walked Maikel Franco after an excruciating 10-pitch At Bat that was like watching paint dry. Now the score was 8-6 and at this point I was ready to leave right then and there. The Mets had pulled a July move and resurrected themselves from the dead only to shit the game right back out again. Only then did Henderson manage to get the last out of the inning as more people vacated and I stood around stewing.

The Phillies brought in a fellow named Edubray Ramos for the last of the 11th in order to pick up the Save for them. This was the Phillies' 9th pitcher of the night, which is a lot, until you remember that through 11 innings the Mets had managed to run through 10 pitchers, which is the sort of thing you can only accomplish in a game like this, at this time of year when you carry 20 pitchers on your roster, and this combined with the 16 position players they'd used tied a club record. I didn't realize this at the time. I was too busy thinking about a) who was left on the bench to hit in the Pitcher's spot which was due up second and b) If the Mets tie this game again, who's left to pitch? After Nimmo grounded out, I got one of my answers when Michael Conforto emerged from the dugout, remained patient and walked on 4 pitches. Reyes followed, and I started thinking that Reyes might turn back into the Homer Happy ninny he used to be after his 9th inning heroics, but instead he did what his M.O. normally is and singled the other way. And this brought up Cabrera, and at this point all I was hoping was that he didn't hit into a DP just so Cespedes would have a chance. And, of course, Cabrera rendered this hope and my second question irrelevant by nailing the second pitch he saw over the fence for the Game Winning 3-run Home Run. He knew it right away, I think everyone else did too. It was just one of those hits that had that arc, sort of like Reyes' did. These fly balls look a lot different when you're sitting downstairs and I'm used to the view from the Promenade.

Whew. This was exhilarating, but also exhausting. As I said, I know I've seen a lot of crazy, wild things happen at Baseball games, but never one that seemed to cram so much action, absurdity and intrigue into one 4 hour, 23 minute melange of madness. Hell, I watched the last 3 innings standing, that's how messed up things got. But this game was truly emblematic of the fact that the Mets refuse to simply lie down, no matter how much they have to absorb as far as injuries and inconsistency. As weird as it seems, the Mets are now essentially run by these three gentlemen at the top of the lineup, Reyes, Cabrera and Cespedes, and they're winning these games just because they're getting things done. Go back and look at that scorecard again. The Mets had 9 runs and 11 hits for the game, and these three guys accounted for 4 runs, 8 hits and 7 RBI. Think about it: That's 3 out of the 27 players the Mets used in this game accounting for that much offense. But these guys are paving the way. They refuse to throw in the towel and dragged the whole team back into this game and didn't stop until it was won. I don't know how far it will take them over the next 10 days, or if they play beyond that, but they've kept the Mets alive and at this point I don't think there's more we can ask of them.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Idiot Time Revisited

If you are able to find one good thing about Wednesday Night's Mets/Braves game, well, you probably couldn't find one, but just chew on this: At least the Mets don't have to play the Braves again this season.

Astonishingly, the Braves completed a 3-game sweep of the Mets, playing the role of villain or spoiler or turd sandwich to a tee as they came from out of nowhere to erase a 3-0 Mets lead, tie the game, take the lead and ultimately hang on to win when Ender Inciarte pulled a certain Game-winning Home Run from Yoenis Cespedes back from over the wall and with it put the finishing touches on a perfectly demoralizing 4-3 loss.

This is the kind of loss that they seem to have all too often when they're in the thick of a Pennant Race and have to scratch and claw their way to wins. I've been calling these last two weeks Idiot Time for the Mets for good reason, and it's because no matter what good they seem to be able to accomplish, it seems to abandon them at the worst possible moments and you end up with games like we saw last night, where the winning run gets yanked away from them in mind-boggling fashion by someone like Inciarte.

I know that these Braves are tough and spunky but they're also acting like a bunch of Marlins and enjoying this a little too much, and it seems like Inciarte is the poster boy for all of this. When the Braves swept three from the Mets here back in June, who was that punk in the middle of some key rallies? Inciarte. When the Braves stole one from the Mets down in Atlanta last weekend, who was in the middle of it? Inciarte. Who was being a pain in the ass on Monday and Tuesday? Inciarte. Who ran through a stop sign to score the tying run on Wednesday? Inciarte. Who robbed the Home Run? FUCKING INCIARTE!!! And the whole time he's whooping and jocking and pumping his fists and basically acting like a Marlin! Or Shane Victorino. Or Both. Either way, I know we've been picking on Freeman or Garcia as the "New" Met Killers on the Braves, but if there was ever a guy who just needed to be knocked on his ass, it's Inciarte. Mark my words. Inciarte. Just watch the tape.

And this was one of those games that seemed to be going wonderfully. Bartolo Colon was his usual mesmerizing self through 6 innings. Asdrubal Cabrera and Rene Rivera hit Home Runs off of non-kin Ryan Weber. It was great. And then it turned to shit and of all people Anthony Recker was the one who kicked that into motion by coming from out of nowhere to hit a 2-run Home Run off Colon. That began the unraveling. The Braves started getting guys on base, and stealing bases, and Addison Reed got rushed into the game, and Jeurys Familia was rushed into the game for a 5 out Save, and he blew it. And then the Braves took the lead in the 9th on a series of dinky hits and bleeders. Who else. Inciarte. And the Mets tried to mount that final, spirited comeback, and of course, what happened? Inciarte.

The Mets, perhaps, peaked too early in this spirited drive they've had over the last month, because now it seems like they've run out of steam a little bit these past several games. They could mask it against Minnesota. Maybe they can start masking it again, but who can be sure? The Phillies are a tough team too. But the Braves seem to have been their scourge this season. The Mets finished 9-10 against the Braves this season, which probably sounds like a shock to everyone because they were 2-7 against them at Citi Field. I've been saying this for a while now and whatever will happen to the Mets will happen. But if this is going to be the difference between the Mets playing beyond October 2nd and going home, well, the Mets are going to spend all winter ruing their inability to handle the Braves in 2016.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Not Just Me?

I guess it's not just me that has a thing with the Braves this season. Though my record in Mets/Braves games this season is done at 0-3, I feel like that's the record of most Mets fans against the Braves this year. The Braves have already lost 90 games this season, the Mets have 80 wins and sit at the top of the Wildcard race, and yet when these two teams have met, the Braves have had the upper hand basically every time out, and especially at Citi Field. The Mets won 2 of 3 against the Braves here in April, and they haven't beaten the Braves here since.

Tuesday night was a bit more of a jarring loss than Monday, which was a debacle from the get-go. The Mets had a lead early against Julio Teheran, who they never seem to hit, but the Braves tied it after the Mets abandoned fundamentals in the 6th inning, and then put the game effectively out of reach in the 7th when Adonis Garcia hit a 3-run Home Run off of Jerry Blevins, who for some bizarre reason was left in to face the righty who's killed the Mets on multiple occasions.

The Mets rallied gamely late, but could get no closer than 5-4, and sure, you can take the moral victory of this being the first time the Mets have scored more than 3 runs in a game in a week, but it didn't do them a damn bit of good. They had Yoenis Cespedes up with a chance to win the game in the last of the 9th, but he got frozen by a Jim Johnson curveball, struck out, and the Mets ended up once again falling to the Braves.

I know there's a whole shitstorm over Terry Collins hitting for Jay Bruce in the 8th inning but let's be serious here. That's scenery. It's backstory. It's not important. There's a lot of eerie symbolism at work here between a series of curious managerial moves, and stagnating in the crisis point of a pennant race, and running out of logical things to say.

One more chance to get this right.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Them Games

Monday night was my 19th game of the season and the 4th time in which Noah Syndergaard would be pitching. I have to say I felt pretty confident that things would go well, given that Syndergaard's been in a great groove. And after one inning, in which Syndergaard struck out the first two batters and then retired the third on a weak ground ball, well, you draw your own conclusion.

Unfortunately, that was the high point of the night. Syndergaard's 10-pitch 1st inning was a mirage. In the 2nd inning, Syndergaard unraveled in a stream of walks and singles, throwing 30 pitches and allowing two runs. In the 3rd, Freddie Freeman took him deep to the opposite field. In the 4th, more of the same. And after 3.2 innings, close to 100 pitches, Syndergaard was mercifully removed on the short end of a 5-0 score.

Things barely improved from there, unless you can take the T.J. Rivera Home Run as some sort of positive on a night where the Mets looked like they were going to get shut out by Aaron Blair. I had to sit through this dreck for slightly over 3 hours and, well, I was treated to no better than a 7-3 loss.

This was one of them games, which you'll accept every once in a while, except that we're now officially in the final two weeks of the season, which is often dicey for the Mets when they're in the thick of contention, and because it's against the Braves, a team against whom there's been a few too many of them games against this season. I should know. This was the 3rd game this season I'd been to against the Braves, and the Mets have managed to lose all three. It's not only dropped the Mets closer to the Wildcard competition, but it's now officially solidified me with a losing record for 2016. I'd try to remedy this by forcing myself to another game this week, but I have a bad feeling about the sort of karma that kind of desperation generates.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Pole Position

Sunday seems to have exemplified just how well things have been going for the Mets of late. Terry Collins essentially threw his "D" lineup out there against the Minnesota Twins, and in spite of holding a slim late lead remained firm in his desire to not use any of his everyday players, and won the game anyway. It's either that or this is just the sort of luxury you can take in the middle of September when you have 39 players on your active roster and you're playing a team that's on the precipice of 100 losses for the season.

Not playing at all were Jose Reyes, James Loney, Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce, Addison Reed or Jeurys Familia. Asdrubal Cabrera made only a cameo appearance. Yoenis Cespedes refused a day off and ended up leaving early anyway due to illness. Appearing instead was a veritable motley crew of players involving Gabriel Ynoa, Michael Conforto, Alejandro De Aza, Matt Reynolds, Kelly Johnson and, for the first time in months, Lucas Duda and Juan Lagares even saw some action in the 9th inning. This lineup wasn't exactly gangbusters, but the 3 runs they generated against Kyle Gibson was enough as they won, 3-2, to finish off the sweep of the Twins.

It appeared early as though this lineup was going to run Gibson off the mound before he'd even gotten started. A walk, a hit and a hit batter loaded the bases with no outs, and cleanup hitter Michael Conforto picked up a 2-run single, and then Gibson walked the next guy, and already there was action in the Twins bullpen. But Travis d'Arnaud, who's totally off kilter with no clear direction to get him out of this tailspin, hit the ball right on the screws--right at Brian Dozier who easily doubled Conforto off 2nd and kind of righted Gibson's ship. After that, the Mets did little off him except for a T.J. Rivera Home Run in the 3rd that ended up holding up as the winning run.

Ynoa, on the other hand, acquitted himself well enough over 4.2 innings. Aside from some 2nd inning difficulty, Ynoa was by and large fine on a day in which Collins basically said anything beyond 4 solid innings was gravy, and he did that, and he probably could have finished the 5th, too, and Collins probably outfoxed himself by pulling Ynoa after allowing that 2 out hit in the 5th and it nearly bit him in the ass. It ended up taking two pitchers to get that 3rd out. Fortunately, nothing of consequence happened during that span.

After that, it was basically a by-committee day for the Mets. Erik Goeddel got the last out of the 5th, worked a clean 6th and vultured a win for his troubles. Josh Smoker handled the 7th. Fernando Salas allowed a monstrous Home Run to Kennys Vargas and a subsequent hit to Robbie Grossman, but he too got a pair of outs to start the 8th. Jerry Blevins came in and got Eduardo Escobar to finish out the 8th, and what the hell, at that point they may as well send him out for the 9th as well, and they did, and he very quickly and quietly set down the Twins in order to pick up his second save in the past week.

And, of course, later in the afternoon the Cardinals beat the Giants once again, and with that the Mets now find themselves clean in front in the NL Wildcard race. I'm still baffled at how this has all come to pass, but at the same time I'm not sure anyone can legitimately complain. After everything that's gone on, the Mets now find themselves heading into the season's final two weeks in possession of a Playoff spot and not only that, they'd host a Wildcard game on top of it. I know that in the past the final two weeks of the season have involved a lot of weird things for the Mets, and who knows what's coming down the pike this season, but the trepidation of prior seasons maybe doesn't seem quite so bad this year.

Then again, ask me that question in a week. Then ask me again in 10 days. And so on, and so forth...

Sunday, September 18, 2016


The Mets of course began the day with the news that Jacob deGrom was lost for the season, one day after it was announced that he would be starting on Sunday. This isn't good, but as I've said, I'd rather have the Mets go to the whip with healthy arms that might lack pizzazz as opposed to trying to force someone who's hurt to come back and risk him pitching ineffectively or, worse, injuring himself further. So if nothing else, and if you can believe it I'm taking the silver lining route here, we have a real, legitimate answer to what's been ailing deGrom, and also no false set of expectations that he'll at some point be back. It's a drag, but then again, just about everything that's happened this season injury-wise has been a drag.

And yet the Mets as a team continue to process this information and go out and win games anyway, and they do so in all sorts of strange ways. They already won a game this week when a guy hit his first Major League Home Run in extra innings. Last night, the Mets won because Curtis Granderson came up in the 11th inning with the Mets down a run and hit a Home Run to tie the game, and followed that up by coming up in the 12th inning and hitting another Home Run to win the game, so, you know, why not? Why not get a pair of Home Runs from the same guy in back-to-back extra innings?

Seth Lugo, whose general M.O. has basically been to eat innings while keeping the Mets in the game, did that again. He wasn't at his best; he seemed a bit wild early, but outside of a 3rd inning Home Run from Eddie Rosario he allowed the Twins nothing of consequence over his 5 innings of work. This was fortunate, because the Mets were doing nothing against Ervin Santana. Santana continues to toil away for a woefully overmatched Twins team and, well, the Mets saw a bit of him back when he pitched for Atlanta that time and it seems he hasn't changed much. Santana had the Mets stopped cold through 7 innings and only in the 7th did they pose a credible threat, and even then Santana struck out Michael Conforto to end the inning and finish out his night.

And, of course, as soon as Santana left the game, the Mets tied the score. Ryan Pressly, who I suppose is posing as Minnesota's setup man (if you asked me who their closer was I probably wouldn't be able to tell you), gave up a first pitch hit to Jose Reyes, wild pitched him to 2nd and then Reyes moved to 3rd on a Cabrera ground out. And that brought up Cespedes, and for whatever reason teams continue to pitch to Cespedes in opportunities where he can beat them. Miami did it and it wrecked their precious little season. Minnesota did it and ended up getting beat as well, as Cespedes just flicked a 3-2 pitch over the 2nd baseman's head for the tying hit.

And, so, it then became a bullpen fest. The Mets had already burned through Josh Smoker, Fernando Salas, Jerry Blevins, Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia by time the game moved to the 10th, and so the game was turned over to Hansel Robles. The Twins countered with several pitchers you've never heard of, unless you're somehow related to J.T. Chargois or Alex Wimmers. Robles moved to the 10th, but in the 11th he was burned, and I mean legitimately burned, by Byron Buxton, who may be starting to get his sea legs under him. Buxton hit a Home Run up into a part of Citi Field where it seems only people named "Miguel Cabrera" or "Cespedes" can reach and the Twins not only had a lead, but a chance to use their closer and for me, a chance to see who their closer actually is.

Brandon Kintzler, said Twins Closer, came in to try to close things out in the last of the 11th and of course gave up a Home Run to Curtis Granderson on his 2nd pitch to re-tie the game at 2-2. Kintzler then appeared ready to just end things right there, giving up subsequent hits to T.J. Rivera and Brandon Nimmo, which brought up Kevin Plawecki—remember him?—for his first At Bat since June or thereabouts. Plawecki had a hard time up here earlier in the year and this time just hit into bad luck as his line shot glanced off Kintzler's glove and right to Brian Dozier, who threw him out. Kintzler then hit Matt Reynolds with a pitch, and then struck out Jose Reyes, which meant that after all that crotch-grabbing, we were just going to play more baseball.

Josh Edgin pitched the 12th inning for the Mets without incident. Michael Tonkin entered for Minnesota and retired the first two batters, then was subsequently removed by Paul Molitor in favor of Ryan O'Rourke—you know, the great Ryan O'Rourke. I'm not sure why at this point Molitor felt he needed to play matchups, but Granderson had one of those At Bats that Cespedes usually has, where he starts fouling off pitch after pitch and eventually gets something he can handle, and he did, and he hit it down into the little slip of seats in the Right Field corner for the game-winning Home Run and the Mets had won this absurd mess of a game 3-2.

And, of course, shortly after the Mets won, the Cardinals won, coming back on the Giants to win and knock the Giants back into a tie with the Mets for the first Wildcard. Can you believe this? The Mets played the Giants about a month ago at perhaps their worst point in the season, and now they're not only tied but because they hold the tiebreaker, the Mets are, in fact, in position to host the Wildcard game. But, they're not there yet. They have to keep winning these games against teams that are clearly overmatched.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Cap Trade Friday

The Mets began their final homestand of the season Friday night, which is something that I usually look at kind of wistfully, although this year not so much. It seems as though it's arrived rather quickly this year. Maybe it always feels that way. This year, though, it has the odd juxtaposition of the overwhelmingly likely scenario that, come September 25th, the Mets will play their final home game of the season but nobody will know for certain whether or not it's actually going to be their final home game of the season.

Regardless, you want to enjoy the time we have left as much as possible, and I'll be at 4 games on this final homestand, the first of which was this evening, in a game against a team I've never actually seen play the Mets before, the Minnesota Twins. This isn't the first time I've seen the Twins--I in fact saw them play in Toronto three years ago--but now I get to cross them off the list of teams I've never seen play the Mets. This now leaves the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers as the lone teams I've never seen--and Texas will be in town next season.

But next year is rather far away and the Mets still have a Pennant Race to deal with and so the Mets and Twins were my 18th game of the season. I have gone over my choice of game hat over the years and for 2016 I'd been wearing a new hat, with the 2015 World Series logo on it. It's proven to be middling in terms of luck and at my last game, I discovered something rather disturbing about it. I'd bought it at size 7 1/2, thinking that was my preferred cap size. But it never fit properly. It seemed too large in some areas and just didn't look right. At my last game, my other half, who has taken to wearing my old game hats, was complaining about it and wondered why I didn't go back to wearing last year's game hat, a 2012 50th Anniversary cap, since that seemed to have much more luck in it. She was wearing it and I compared them, and of course that cap fit much better. Surprise, surprise, that cap was 7 3/8! No wonder I'd had the stink this year! I was wearing a cap that was too big. So, tonight, I wore the old hat. As you now know, the Mets won, 3-0. So I think, superstition being what it is, I have to go back to the old cap. The fate of the Mets depends on this.

The fate of the Mets also depends on guys who played key in tonight's win. Bartolo Colon was chief among them. Colon right now defies any and all logic and is just a force of nature that we should just sit back and marvel at. He befuddled a young and inexperienced Twins lineup for 7 innings, allowing 3 hits, 2 walks (both to Joe Mauer) and no runs while striking out 6. He walked Mauer in the 1st and immediately got Jorge Polanco to follow by hitting into a DP. In the 3rd inning, he allowed the Twins to load the bases with two outs, but managed to get Polanco to fly out. In the 4th, Max Kepler reached when Cespedes nonchalantly dropped a fly ball directly at him (he gave no fucks, in typical Cespedes fashion), but Colon then proceeded to pick Kepler off 1st base.

He'd been backed minimally, as all the Mets were able to muster off of Francisco Berrios and a bevy of obscure relievers with bland names to that point were back-to-back Home Runs by Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera in the 3rd. Berrios, who appears to be no older than 16, was ripe for the taking, as he had demon stuff but little control and seemed content to hand the Mets plenty of runners, but a key hit never came. Berrios was gone after 4 innings, and outside of one rally in the 7th inning that culminated with an RBI single from Yoenis Cespedes.

It seemed like it would be a coast to the finish; the Twins were overmatched by Colon, and again by Addison Reed in the 8th, but in the 9th Jeurys Familia made things unnecessarily sweaty by walking Mauer, and then with two outs walking Kurt Suzuki, the only two players in the Twins lineup who seem to have any sort of Major League tenure to them, and this brought up a rather burly gentleman named Kennys Vargas. Vargas hit a towering fly ball out to Left which, for a second, looked horrifyingly like it might land in a bad place, but it didn't quite have the legs and Cespedes settled under it and allowed everyone to exhale as he gloved it for the final out.

So, now 15 games remain for the Mets and they're still holding steady in that 2nd Wildcard spot, and still sandwiched directly in between the Cardinals and Giants, who happen to be playing each other at press time. It may end up being that the Giants will hold on to the 1st Wildcard spot, but if they can continue to beat the Cardinals and open up a little distance between them and the Mets, that would be just as helpful. As usual, the Mets just need to worry about themselves. That seems to be the most important thing here.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Done With You, Finally

The Mets finished out their season series with the Washington Nationals yesterday in one of those weird 4pm games, where the field is half-bathed in shadows and Pitchers tend to have an easy time of things. Not surprisingly, the final score of the game was 1-0. Unfortunately, it was the Nationals who came up with the 1, thanks to a Home Run by Fire Hydrant Head, of course, off of Fernando Salas in the last of the 7th inning.

There is, like many games I had no opportunity to see, not much to say about the game itself, so instead I have to think larger picture here. The Mets lost two of three in this series, which isn't great, but also hasn't been ruinous to their chances, because it seems like every time they lose, the Cardinals and Giants also lose, and when they win, both of them also win, and so the Mets now head into their final homestand of the year half a game ahead of the Cardinals for the 2nd Wildcard, and half a game behind the Giants for the 1st Wildcard.

That the Mets remain in this heated position of contention given everything that's gone on is amazing in and of itself and of course it makes you think what if all these guys were healthy, but then again, the Mets may get some of their wounded back shortly, as I keep hearing bandied about. That being said, it's one thing to have these guys back, but they need to come back and be effective. Robert Gsellman on Wednesday was effective. Seth Lugo has been effective. Rafael Montero...not so much.

There's 16 games left in the season now, and the Mets will have 10 of them at home and none of them against a team with a +.500 record. The Mets are absolutely battered and look nothing like the team that took the field all the way back in April. If they can pull this off, it's going to be a minor miracle, but I'm hard-pressed to see how this translates in the Postseason. They'll probably have to take on 1 game against Madison Bumgarner or some similarly intimidating pitcher for the entire season, and of course if they parse their way through that, they face America's Darlings, the Cubs, in the NLDS. That, of course, is a whole other beast and I'd rather not go too much into that unless I have to.

Of larger import, the Mets are done with Washington, done with Daniel Murphy for the regular season. The Mets were 7-12 for their 19 games (all 19 of which involved a hit from Murphy), which actually is better than I thought it was, but still not especially great. It's certainly better than when Washington used to annihilate the Mets to the tune of 4-15, but not as great as last year, when the Mets went 11-8, and 6-0 when the games really counted. It's also been enough to give Washington a rather insurmountable lead in the division and more than likely the 2nd best record in the NL going into the Postseason. But that's not our issue at this point. I'm just glad I don't have to think about them anymore for this year. I think...

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Drivera Me Crazy

Several years ago, during one of those years where the Mets were a contending team that wasn't really a contender, Braden Looper became the first Pitcher to successfully blow two Saves in the same game, in an instance where the Mets had a lead in the 9th inning, blew it, took the lead in the 10th inning, blew it again, and then lost the game altogether (I had to go to the internet to look it up, but I've successfully found it).

Last night's game had that sort of eerie reminiscent feeling. Fortunately, Jeurys Familia didn't equal Looper's feat (Terry Collins being slightly the wiser than Willie Randolph, Familia didn't actually get the chance to blow the Save again). But in a harrowing affair that ran into an Extra frame, the Mets managed to emerge victorious thanks to the exploits of T.J. Rivera. Rivera picked a fine moment to hit his first Major League Home Run, in the 10th inning of a tie game off Mark Melancon, which ultimately proved to be the winning run in the Mets 4-3 victory in Washington.

This was another one of those games where I was late in tuning in, and as such I missed Noah Syndergaard's 7 scintillating innings of work. This was April Syndergaard, where he basically stoned the Nationals cold, giving up 1 run and striking out 10, while the Mets scratched out a run here, a run there, and by time I'd tuned in, they had a 3-1 lead and everything seemed just fine.

Then, of course, the 9th inning happened and Daniel Murphy interjected himself into the proceedings and everything kind of turned to mush from there. It wasn't an especially hard hit ball, and lord knows that Murphy probably spent at least 25% of his Mets career hitting ground balls towards Second Base like that, and 9.75 times out of 10, he was thrown out. But this newfangled Daniel Murphy beats the play at 1st, and the next thing we know, Jose Reyes is airmailing throws and Ryan Zimmerman is bunting, and there's more hits, and Fire Hydrant Head is involved, and my head was spinning, and Keith Hernandez wasn't making sense, and the game was tied and I was waiting for Danny Espinosa to hit the Walkoff Grand Slam and put us all out of our misery. Except that Familia managed to induce someone to hit into a Double Play, and I think the Nationals hit for Espinosa. Regardless, the game hadn't ended, and the Mets were still alive. Barely.

Then, of course, there was Rivera hitting his first Major League Home Run to put the Mets back on top, which as I already mentioned was good timing on his part but just another in a string of fine performances he's had so far in the Major Leagues. He is, perhaps, Murphy-lite, in that we don't know very much about him other than he's from the Bronx, and he can hit a little bit, and nobody's really sure what his best position is in the field so we just have to throw him somewhere and hope for the best. But if he comes up with hits like this, it's all good.

Of course, the Mets had to survive the Nationals again, and Fernando Salas was in to try to pick up his 1st Save as a Met, and he got the first two guys easily enough, but then Jayson Werth singled, because Jayson Werth always singles at inopportune times, and that brought up Murphy. Of course it did. Jerry Blevins was then summoned to try to get his first Save as a Met, and I'm sure every Mets fan had some horrible image of Murphy getting a hold of one and skipping around the bases. That would be a fitting epitaph for this mess, wouldn't it. But it didn't happen. Blevins made it as hairy as possible before finally slipping a 3-2 curve past Murphy to end the game, and that, coupled with a late-night Giants loss has now sandwiched the Mets equidistant from their Wildcard competitors. Half a game up on St. Louis, half a game behind San Francisco. 17 to play, and after tomorrow afternoon, none of them against teams that are over .500. That's a mighty fine Pennant Race.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Turn It Off

I was slightly late and out of sorts in getting home on Monday night, and by time I did so, much to my dismay, the wheels had long ago come off the Mets for the night. It was only the 5th inning, but the Nationals had slapped Rafael Montero all over the yard. Fire Hydrant Head had hit a Home Run, Montero was walking guys, and he'd even suffered the indignity of having the opposing pitcher, Mert Lagos go deep against him. With the game not worth sticking around for, and with the broadcast having dissolved into the Keith Hernandez Follies, I took my leave for the night and clicked over to ESPN.

I know that it's still the middle of a pennant race, so don't think this is going to be like past seasons where I essentially threw in the towel come September and started writing more about the 49ers than the Mets. Last season, of course, I barely had anything to say about the 49ers. It didn't help that the Mets played Baseball into November, but by time I would have chimed in, the 49ers season was beyond hope. This season doesn't exactly pose to be much better. Sure, the 49ers have a new coach in Chip Kelly, but the team is kind of a random mishmash of reclamation projects combined with raw talent. And Colin Kaepernick and the social lightning rod he's now become.

Suffice it to say, I'm not expecting great things from the 49ers this season. Unlike the Harbaugh years, they're not even on TV here in New York that much, but they did make an appearance on Monday Night Football this week, albeit at 10pm New York time, facing the Los Angeles Rams, who returned to Los Angeles after a 21-year purgatory in St. Louis. I never liked the Rams regardless of where they played, but I have to say that the 49ers/Rams rivalry makes a hell of a lot more sense with them in LA than in St. Louis.

And for this appearance on National TV, the 49ers represented themselves well, as they shut out the Rams, 28-0, to get their season off on the right foot. The 49ers didn't exactly play well, but as compared to the Rams, they looked like a Super Bowl contender again. The Rams appear completely clueless and undisciplined on both sides of the ball, in stark comparison to the 49ers, who while lacking in talent at some key spots, still played a clean game, not committing a penalty until the 4th Quarter and not making any mistakes. Blaine Gabbert, who's now the Quarterback after washing out in Jacksonville, showed some flashes, but for the most part only survived, which works against the Rams, but probably not against a better team.

So, in the end, at least I got a win out of one of my teams on Monday night. In fact, Monday Night continues to be kind to the 49ers, who won on the solo stage for what seems to be the 8th consecutive time, and each time they've handled their opponent with relative ease. However, I have a feeling this might be one of the higher points of the 49ers season. The Mets will probably have better days before the curtain falls on 2016.