Thursday, April 27, 2017

Now What?!

The Mets played their first mid-week afternoon game of the season on Thursday and it's a good thing that it was played then, because most of the work-going public (read: ME) didn't have to be subjected to the flaming turd they served up.

It was bad enough to have tickets to Wednesday's game and then have Noah Syndergaard scratched from the start. The same thing then happened this afternoon, which was accompanied with the much more troublesome news that he had "arm irritation" which I would have to imagine gave 99% of Mets fans a heart attack because that's what happens whenever the words "Noah Syndergaard" "Arm" and "Irritation" are used in the same sentence. Syndergaard himself poo-pooed the news, calling it something minor and apparently he seemed a bit rankled to have been scratched, but his health being as essential as it is to the success of the team it probably makes more sense to give him a break. Supposedly he'll pitch on Sunday. I guess as with most things I'll believe it when I see it.

The start, then, went to Matt Harvey, who's still regaining the lost luster and although he managed to escape some trouble in the early innings, he ran out of steam in the 5th and the Braves just started teeing off on him. Granted, the Braves touched him for a pair of runs and it felt as though the Mets had to muster up a herculean effort to simply tie the score, but Harvey just came undone. Kurt Suzuki hit a 3-run Home Run, other Braves did other things and 2-2 became 6-2 rather quickly.

Meanwhile, R.A. Dickey, our old friend, returned to Citi Field for the first time since he was dealt so many years ago and did his thing as he usually does. The knuckleball doesn't seem to float quite as devastatingly as it did back in 2012 but nonetheless he did what he needed to do, holding the Mets to 3 runs in his 6 innings of work. I can't say for certain since I didn't see any of the game but I would have to assume he was greeted warmly.

Then there was the Yoenis Cespedes injury, which seemed to be brewing for about a week, ever since he left a game against Philadelphia with a balky hamstring. Whether he was rushed or not is immaterial. Whether or not this is a Cortisone Shot Ramirez rabbit hole is as well. When these things happen it's hard for them to let go and maybe 10 days of rest might have helped, maybe not, but he obviously felt good enough to come back last night but of course the whole thing went on him this afternoon, so now I'd have to imagine he's definitely going on the DL for the next 10 days or however long it takes for this thing to heal up. As if the Mets needed more injuries right now.

The end result was a forgettable afternoon to cap off a forgettable series and a forgettable homestand that saw the Mets go 1-7, lose the last 6 and drop them into the cellar of the NL East, behind even these miserable Braves and the Fake ass Marlins at 8-13 with a trip to Washington looming and no conceivable help in sight. I mean, I hate to panic in April but the Mets are one lousy road trip away from this season spiraling out into 2011 and all the talk and good vibes dissolving into more jeers and laughter from the hoi polloi. The only thing I can tell myself at this point is the old adage that teams often aren't as bad as they look when they're losing. Of course, the flip side is that they aren't as good as they look when they're winning. At some point this ought to even out. I can't be certain as to whether or not it will be too late but this version of the Mets has been known to not have a "too late."

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Can I Leave Yet?

Wednesday night was my 3rd game of the season at Citi Field. It was actually supposed to be Tuesday night, but extenuating circumstances forced me to change my Tuesday tickets to Wednesday. Then, weather forced the cancellation of Tuesday's game altogether. Then, what I had assumed would be a most entertaining pitching matchup of R.A. Dickey and Noah Syndergaard dissolved into Julio Teheran vs Robert Gsellman...which meant that through three games this season, I've seen Julio Teheran pitch more than anyone else.  It was still somewhat misting when I arrived at Citi Field although it seemed like the game was in no particular danger of being delayed altogether.

Then, of course Gsellman came out, started flittering sliders all over the place and gave up 5 runs before most of the paltry crowd that showed up had even made it to their seats. When that happens, and the Mets are in an instant hole like that, and I immediately wish I hadn't shown up that particular night, well, those final 8 innings just can't go by fast enough. It's one thing if the Mets are playing well and you think they might actually be able to pull themselves back from a 5-run deficit, but the Mets continue to not hit, and even the return of Yoenis Cespedes and Travis d'Arnaud didn't help. Teheran was more than ripe for the taking in this one, as the Mets had opportunities in the middle innings, but the stink was on this one already.

So, yeah. By 7:40 I was ready to leave. That's not a good feeling. And of course being that I obsessively score all my games I have to at least pay some kind of attention to what's going on, so I can't just meander around the stadium, even with access to all these clubs and whatnot. The point of all this is that the game becomes mostly scenery to an evening out and, yeah, I'm keeping score but I couldn't exactly tell you what happened from there. I know Gsellman didn't improve in spite of gritting his way through 5 innings and I know that Teheran wasn't particularly sharp, but the Mets continue to not hit and not hit in key spots so he was let off the hook every time. Then I went downstairs at some point just to give myself a quicker exit and slunk off into the night once the game ended.

As nights at Citi Field go, this will probably rank among the least memorable. This recent malaise has taken the sheen off the Mets' hot start and now they're on one of these death valley stretches that seem to hit them in the middle of the Summer. I can't tell if it's good or bad that it's happening here in April because on the one hand you'd rather get the stupid out of your system early, but on the other hand it's bad that this happens at all because the Mets are supposedly better than this.

Monday, April 24, 2017

No More

As a blogger, I've tried my best to keep on top of every game and keep this thing up to date or at least relatively speaking. Sometimes it's more difficult than others. And, quite honestly, it's difficult to come up with something interesting to say about a game day after day because most games tend to be more mundane than anything else. And then you have what happened last weekend, which was basically the perfect storm of bad, and who the hell wants to go into it when the entire weekend can be summed up in a few sentences.

It's not so much that the Mets stink. I don't believe that's the case. Consider that the strength of the team is supposed to be the starting pitching. Against Washington, the Mets pitched Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler. On Friday, Harvey pitched 7 innings, gave up 3 runs on 4 hits, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts. Saturday, Jacob deGrom pitched 5.2 innings, gave up 3 runs on 8 hits, 6 walks, 10 strikeouts. Sunday, Zack Wheeler pitched 7 innings, gave up 4 runs on 4 hits, 2 walks 6 strikeouts. These individual games certainly don't represent any of these pitchers at their respective best, but you could find many, many pitchers that would do a lot worse. Irregardless, the Mets lost all three games. The issue isn't so much that good pitchers had off games. Even if they'd pitched great, it's dicey that the Mets would have won because they're not hitting at all right now and it's killing the whole deal.

The Mets having offensive issues is nothing new in these parts. It seems like we talk about it every season and of course the fact that 6 guys went down with injuries in the span of 3 days doesn't help. It speaks to the continued ineptitude of Cortisone Shot Ramirez and his brigade of mental midgets for the repeated lack of conditioning and injuries that are probably avoidable. Yoenis Cespedes goes down with a cramp and misses an entire weekend. Travis d'Arnaud has been clogging up the bench for 5 days and forced the Mets to call up Kevin Plawecki, who appears at this point to be a lost cause. Meanwhile, because the Mets continue to insistently carry 8 relievers, and continue to refuse to put guys on the DL (or call up guys that they have to save for "emergencies"), they end up in these bizarre situations where Wheeler or deGrom are sent up to pinch hit or Robert Gsellman is pinch running and I know that these guys are good athletes and all, but what the hell kind of strategy is this? If you really need a guy who can come off the bench and pop one out, I don't know that Zack Wheeler is the first guy I'd look to. I do, however, know that our old friend Kelly Johnson is sitting around waiting for someone to call and this time he wouldn't cost another low-level pitching prospect.

Bottom line here is that things are pretty terrible right now. After a hot start, the Mets stopped hitting, the guys that were hitting got hurt and so right now the lineup is Michael Conforto, who's basically forcing Collins to play him because he's hitting everything in sight, and a bunch of .230 hitters. The only solace I can take out of this is that the past two seasons, the Mets went through entire months of this shit and things turned out OK. It just took a while and cost a lot of fans their sanity (and led to the "castrati" having a field day in the process). And, well, this will probably happen again. It seems late now if only because the Mets sit 3 games under .500 and 5 1/2 games behind Washington but it's not like the old days where Washington would come in here and belt 27 Home Runs in a 4-game series. The Mets didn't help themselves at all this series but they also didn't get outright stomped. Unfortunately, they also didn't win any games and so I have to reach for dopey second-rate excuses like that to try and explain what the hell is going on here.

It took me 4 days to come up with nothing?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Born To (Home) Run

Wednesday night's game appeared to be headed down a similar track as Tuesday's. In miserable weather, perhaps colder than last night, combined with some late-inning rain, the Mets held a late one-run lead over the Phillies. Robert Gsellman had done yeoman's work getting himself into the 8th inning, but a leadoff double knocked him out and the run ended up scoring thanks to a 2-out, 2-strike dying quail of a hit that landed in front of Yoenis Cespedes. But, unlike in the previous few nights where the Mets could not respond, on this night they did as Jay Bruce hit a 2-run Home Run in the bottom of the 8th to provide the Mets just enough to hang on and win the game, 5-4 and end this mystifying 4-game losing streak in which everything that could have possibly gone wrong went wrong.

It of course is always irritating to me when I go to the first game of a series and the Mets lose, and then come back and win the next night, and that's no different on this evening, although in reality, I can't say I missed sitting out in weather that appeared to be colder on Wednesday than it was on Tuesday, among an even sparser crowd than Tuesday, in intermittent rain and from what Howie Rose told me on the radio, a dead standstill in transit as the 7 train had suspended service entirely right in the thick of the evening rush. So even if I had gone to this game instead, I would have been just as cranky and miserable as I was on Tuesday. On the other hand, the Mets win probably would have made it more worth it.

But so the game, which in addition to the positive outcome appeared to move at a much brisker pace than Tuesday, boiled down to Robert Gsellman's ability to just be his own bridge, keep the Phillies at bay and keep the Mets in the game, and he did that. Gsellman hadn't been especially good in either of his first two outings, and yes, one of them was the 16-inning game last week but in neither game did we see the toughness he'd displayed late last season. Wednesday night, we saw it back and for the most part he looked really good. He made himself the 1st starting pitcher to make the 8th inning this season by allowing 2 runs on 5 hits with 7 strikeouts through the first 7 innings. Yes, the Phillies annoyingly undid his effort by tying the game in excruciating fashion. However, Gsellman more importantly kept a majority of the Mets' relievers in the bullpen, which was good because I already discussed how the bullpen is burned out 3 weeks into the season and that's not safe.

Meanwhile, the offense continued to stagnate. Curtis Granderson isn't hitting which isn't anything new because he always starts slow. Jose Reyes isn't hitting and is kind of becoming a liability to the point where maybe it's time to just give Wilmer Flores the job or give Amed Rosario a buzz. And of course if that wasn't bad enough, two guys who were hitting, Lucas Duda and Travis d'Arnaud, left the game with injuries. Duda got banged in a rather ugly-looking collision at 1st base and at this point diagnosis seems uncertain. d'Arnaud banged his hand on someone's bat and later came out which is concerning because every time d'Arnaud comes out of a game because of an injury we don't see him again for two months, but hopefully it doesn't come to that. So, it came down to the one guy left who's been hitting, and that's Jay Bruce. I went into this season talking about how Bruce seemed out of place here and he may still be out of place here but to his credit all he's done this season is shut up and hit and basically he won this game by himself. The Mets looked dead in the water until Bruce hit a 3-run Home Run in the 6th to put the Mets ahead and then in the 8th, after the Phillies tied the game, he basically decided he'd had enough of this and hit another Home Run, this one a 2-run job, to put the Mets ahead for good and, of all things, earning himself a curtain call. And, well, he deserves it. I don't know how long this will last, I don't know how long he is for this team, I know he's a Free Agent to be, but hell, he needed to have a start like this because there's multiple players here that could very easily take his job and he's making it hard for anyone to do that right now.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Can't Mets Today

The Mets played an eminently forgettable game against the Phillies on Tuesday night in which they managed to progressively abandon all useful fundamentals of the game of Baseball more and more as the game progressed. They blew a lead late in the game and then had a total meltdown once the game went into extra innings, the end result being a miserable 6-2 loss. I'm so glad I was there to be a part of it.

This was, of course, my first night game of the season, and my first April Night game of the season, so it goes without saying that the piss-poor weather conditions already put a damper on the proceedings. The older I get, the less I enjoy these April games, which is kind of disheartening, but let's face it. With age comes common sense and common sense would dictate that it's just not the world's greatest idea to sit outside for close to 4 hours when the temperature is 48˚ with gusty winds. But I guess I won't have wised up for certain until I just don't go in April altogether. That may never happen.

Irregardless, this was my first game in my new seats down in Section 418, as opposed to several seasons in 512 or 513. I thought, by moving down, that I might be escaping some of the riffraff that occupies those sections but I see I'm mistaken; plenty of Metsplainers seem to sit down there as well, speaking loudly, not making sense, getting things wrong and generally doing enough to bother me and yet not enough for me to do anything about it.

There was a game, and Zack Wheeler started for the Mets. Wheeler is still figuring out how to be a Major Leaguer at this point, which is fine. He was hardly what I'd consider crisp, he threw way too many pitches, but to his credit he got himself out of jams every time he was in one and although he only made it through 5 innings, the only run he allowed scored on an Odubel Herrera Home Run. He left with a tenuous 2-1 lead. This probably should have been more, particularly considering the way Zach Eflin came out at the start of the game. Wheeler's command can be erratic, but Eflin's was basically non-existent in the 1st inning. Jay Bruce drove home Michael Conforto with a single to tie the game, and later Cespedes scored on a Wild Pitch. By any indication, this should have been a cakewalk from there.

But that didn't materialize. The Mets basically stopped hitting completely from there and though Eflin didn't impress, the Mets didn't capitalize and so the game remained at 2-1 into the late innings. Hansel Robles threw the 6th and when he inevitably got in trouble, Josh Smoker bailed him out. Smoker took it into the 7th before handing it over to Fernando Salas. Salas got through the 7th and appeared primed to get through the 8th as well before he ran out of gas. I suppose it's an indictment on Terry Collins and the use of his bullpen but a Manager can only use the pieces he's got, and I'm not quite certain why Salas is gassed 3 weeks into the season, but he went and walked Cameron Rupp with 2 outs. He probably had Freddy Galvis struck out outright, but even so he got Galvis to pop up to 3rd, which should have ended the inning except that Jose Reyes had a hard time of Baseball and dropped the ball. I'm not sure what the excuse was—I don't especially care—and after Blevins replaced Salas it seemed mere formality that Andres Blanco would drive home the tying run, and were this a kind world the lead run would have scored too but for Collins challenging the play and the hit being determined to have been a Ground Rule double. So the game was merely tied.

Again, if this game made sense, the Mets would have gotten off the mat and fed the Phillies bullpen their lunch as they are wont to do. But they couldn't hit Edubray Ramos, they couldn't hit Hector Neris, they couldn't hit Luis Garcia even though he seemed determined to hand them the game in the 9th. I feel like it should be a Kangaroo Court offense to swing at a 3-1 pitch in the 8th or 9th inning of a game, because 11 times out of 10 it's a total sucker pitch, but that's what Neil Walker did in the 9th and instead of probably working out a leadoff walk, he flew out and set the stage for the Mets to fade out quietly.

The game then moved to Extra Innings, and everyone basically got up and left, except for me and maybe a couple hundred other people. The people that left had the right idea. It was only getting colder and the game had already stretched well over 3 hours. Rafael Montero took the mound for the 10th and, well, we know what happened from there. More abandoned fundamentals ensued and it didn't help that Montero once again came up small in a key spot and I'm starting to wonder whether he just doesn't have it in him to pitch competitively at the Major League level. It seems to be OK in the minors but he can't pull it together here and I've kind of had enough. A hit off his heel, a pair of rockets, Phillies have the lead, Reyes looks old, Cabrera looks slow and by time the rally can be stopped, 4 runs have scored and the only thing to be done is just finish quickly and get out of there.

Someday I may pass on these games entirely. In fact maybe I've done that already since this is but my 2nd game of the season and this was Home Game #7. In my youth I might have charged out to another game during Opening Week. Now, as it sits, I'm not scheduled to go back until next week. Part of me is entertaining going to one of the Washington games this weekend but I need to be sure of the forecast before I make any further ill-advised decisions.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Just Get The Hell Out Of Here

I was already apoplectic from too much Marlins after Saturday night's game, and I suppose the fact that the Mets had already played the equivalent of 4 games in Loria's Puke Green Hell Hole already this weekend didn't help. And just imagine if the Mets had lost on Thursday. But if all that wasn't bad enough, this nightmare of a weekend came to a fitting conclusion in the most typical Marlins game ever. Stop me if you've heard this one before, but the Mets fell behind the Marlins early, were stifled by a journeyman pitcher, somehow scraped their way back to tie the game in the 9th inning, and then lose the damn thing anyway in the last of the 9th on a 30 foot squibber that nobody can field. Or, in Sunday's case, the most Marlin equivalent, which is that a no-name Rookie hits his 1st Major League Home Run to end the game. Yes, you can mark the name J.T. Riddle in the book of "Stupid Marlin Tricks," since he was the culprit to cap off a perfectly miserable weekend by taking Addison Reed deep in the bottom of the 9th to give the Marlins a 4-2 win and give them 3 of 4 over the Mets for the weekend and 5 of 7 for the season.

Much like the other 3 Mets losses in this series, the end result masked yet another fine outing by a Mets starting pitcher. Rejuvenated Matt Harvey continued his solid start by holding the Marlins to 2 runs over 6 innings, this in spite of allowing 7 hits and 2 walks, which is rather unHarveylike, but also speaks in testament to the fact that he's still getting back to himself, pitching more to contact and also pitching like a pitcher and using all his tools to get himself out of trouble. Lest you forget that he's always had this in him, but the propensity to blow everyone out of the box can sometimes get the better of you. I know that none of these games turned out the way we wanted them to, but take these pitching performances in a vacuum and if nothing else, they're performing the way they're supposed to thus far. These things should even out.

They should even out because the Mets don't have to play the Fucking Marlins all the time. The Mets went from flying high at 7-3 and 5 wins in a row on Friday morning to 7-6 and everything is terrible and it's all because of the Marlins. The Mets have played 7 of their first 13 games against these clowns and that sack of shit Celebrity Manager and gone 2-5, and the 5 losses have been mostly of a totally mystifying variety. I mean, come on. Getting no-hit by Dan Straily? J.T. Riddle? I mean, I guess I shouldn't be too surprised, seeing as how the Marlins entire history is pulling crap like this and I let it bother me far more than it should, but come on. Please give me one good reason why I should pay the Marlins one iota of respect. I refuse. Fuck those dudes. The Mets will get them back when it counts.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Oh Dammit

The Mets appear to have been paying Marlin Penance the last two nights after outlasting them in Thursday evening's marathon game. Friday's result was bad enough, but in a vacuum it is of course just one game. Compound that with the results on Saturday night and it feels significantly worse. After Jacob deGrom coolly pistolwhipped the Marlins for seven innings and the Mets bats gave him what should have been a protectable 2-run lead, Fernando Salas shit his pants in the 8th inning, allowing a game-tying Home Run to Hamburgers Yelich and a game-winning Home Run to Mike Stanton and the Mets snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, losing 5-4 to the Marlins.

This is, as always one of those "Damned if you do, damned if you don't" instances for Terry Collins. The haters will of course scream that it was catastrophically stupid to remove deGrom from the game after 97 pitches, in which he'd allowed the Marlins a pair of solo Home Runs sprinkled in between 13 strikeouts. Maybe that's true, but if Collins left him in and deGrom got beaten, then he's an idiot for sticking with his pitcher an inning too long.

The answer? Dammit, I don't know. There is no right answer. You go by feel and Collins felt like deGrom was done. I trust him enough at this point to know the temperature of his players. Frankie Bag-o-donuts in Hicksville is going from his gut, and his gut's been telling him "BACKMAN, BABAY!!!" for the last 4 years, and so Collins is a moron and needs to go. Tonight, Collins was wrong and so it's a field day for Frankie and his ilk. For me, it's just the irritation of seeing Dee Gordon pogo-sticking around the infield—typical Marlin behavior. I don't particularly care enough about a right or wrong move when it's essentially a judgement call. What I do know is that this is the Marlins, and invariably they're going to pull some dumb shit out of their ass against the Mets multiple times in a season. This happens to be one of those times. Maybe it's a blessing in disguise and they'll get their Marlinness out of their system early, so that the Mets can handle them the way they should be handled later in the season. Again, I don't know. But right now the only thing that's managed to get in the Mets way so far this season is the Marlins and I've had enough of this.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Marlins Get You Again

I guess the Mets were owed this one after the way they spent 8 innings cheating painful Marlin death on Thursday night. In spite of entering another war of bullpen attrition with the Marlins that seemed headed down a parallel track on Friday night, the Mets faltered before things got out of control as J.T. Realmuto doubled home the winning run in the last of the 9th to give the Marlins a 3-2 win.

It being a Friday and I being a year older, I was somewhat out of it for the early part of the game and as such I missed Noah Syndergaard's 6 innings of work, in which from what I can gather he had some bad luck leading to a 1st inning unearned run, an irritating rally, and then an irritating recurring injury as he either had another blister problem or a fingernail problem that caused him to leave the game altogether. As injury problems go, I suppose this is fairly benign stuff but that it keeps happening is more annoying than anything else. On the other hand, that's one inning fewer that he'll be able to throw as we get later in the season. It'll fix itself at some point, I would guess.

The Mets similarly didn't do a ton against Edinson Volquez outside of a Lucas Duda Home Run in the 5th inning. So things sat at 2-2 as things moved to the late innings. But, as the case can be on the day after some absurdly long games, the Mets had a bullpen issue. Unavailable were Addison Reed, Hansel Robles and Josh Smoker. Gone altogether was T.J. Rivera in favor of Sean Gilmartin, only around as an emergency arm. And left were the remainder of a mostly gassed group. To their credit, Rafael Montero and Jerry Blevins kept things in control in the 7th, and Josh Edgin did so again in the 8th. But Edgin, who is still on the fringes of trustworthydom, was chanced for a 2nd inning and although he nearly managed to negotiate it, he was black-flagged at the last step when Realmuto's double fell in the gap and scored Miguel Rojas with the winning run and it was Marlin Pizza Party Time.

I know, I know. The Mets for the prior 5 games felt kind of invincible. But games like this are unfortunately inevitable over the course of the season, and especially against the Marlins, a team who, as we've gone over many times, is built generally for the sole purpose of pissing us off. So of course they did it again.

Friday, April 14, 2017

A Different Ending

By all rights, the Mets generally lose last night's game in Miami. They've played games like this in Miami previously and that's always the end result. It usually happens in some sort of annoying fashion. Generally it involves the Mets falling behind, scraping and clawing their way back to tie the game, and the Marlins ultimately winning either in the 9th or some later extra inning by getting an infield hit, a walk, an error, and then the winning run scores on a check swing that goes 40 feet, or a Wild Pitch or something typically Marlin, and then they run all over the field slapping each other with baloney and acting like they won the World Series in April.

But something funny happened last night—the Mets didn't lose. They didn't fall victim to Stupid Marlin Tricks, they didn't run out of pitchers and they didn't have the Marlins Pizza Party thrown in their faces. Instead, after twice coming back from multi-run deficits, forcing an already long game into extra innings and running out of Pitchers, the Mets actually won, 9-8, thanks to Travis d'Arnaud's 16th inning Home Run.

Most of the action in this game was long forgotten by time the game ended, which is usually the case when you have ridiculously extended games like this. Robert Gsellman in the 1st inning had some command issues and for the second time in as many outings came away getting cuffed around pretty good. He gave up a Grand Slam to Marcell Ozuna in the 1st to put the Mets in an immediate hole. But, these Mets don't seem to take especially kindly to being pushed around. Almost immediately they struck back and tied the game against Wei Yin Chen, who in spite of some decent years in Baltimore seems to be the Tom Koehler for a new era; the Marlins pitcher whom the Mets face about a dozen times a year and generally rake around. d'Arnaud tripled home 3 runs and then scored the tying run on a Curtis Granderson sac fly in the 2nd inning and almost immediately it became clear that this had all the makings of a real barnburner.

In the 3rd, the Mets started throwing haymakers at Chen. Yoenis Cespedes hit a Home Run that appeared to go over the Magic Machine in Loria's Puke-Green Hell Hole, and Wilmer Flores followed with a Home Run of his own, albeit not nearly as majestic. That spelled the end of the road for Chen, but not so much for the Mets as Cespedes sent a Jose Urena offering into orbit in the 5th. So this 4-0 deficit had turned into a 7-4 lead and everything seemed to be just peachy.

Then, of course, Gsellman ran out of steam in the 5th and everything crashed back to earth in a string of singles and walks and sacrifice flies—you know, the typical Marlins rally—and Gsellman gave way to Josh Edgin who allowed every inherited runner to score by giving up a double to Nickleback and later a single to Billy Marlins and only by the grace of Cespedes were the Mets able to negotiate the final out of the inning as he threw Nickleback out at the plate (he runs like he's carrying a double rack of PBR on his back, dont'cha know).

The Mets, then, needed to negotiate the remainder of this game and keep the Marlins on lockdown. Rafael Montero had a hairy 6th and started an even hairier 7th before Jerry Blevins bailed him out, getting a pair of key outs, among them a strikeout of Ichiro Suzuki. In the 8th, d'Arnaud singled with 2 outs, bringing up Michael Conforto in a Pinch Hitting spot. This has hardly been an ideal role for Conforto, who probably should be playing infinitely more than he has been, but to his credit all he's done over the first two weeks has been shut up and hit the ball, and that's exactly what he did here, drilling a long double in the gap in Right Center to score d'Arnaud, tie the game, and set the stage for the remainder of the night's proceedings.

Usually, in games like this, teams tend to mount spirited rallies early, and then run out of steam. The Marlins had two men on in the last of the 8th vs Fernando Salas, but he reared back, struck out Mike Stanton and got out of the inning. He remained in the 9th and had no issue. The Mets had a similar rally go nowhere in the 10th against Dustin McGowan. Addison Reed came in for the 10th inning and stepped on the Marlins' throats.

By time we hit the 12th inning, the wheels were beginning to rattle off the reality portion of this game. Generally, when it goes beyond 12 innings, you enter "all bets are off" territory, and you have to start thinking about survival tactics. In this case, the Mets had already blown through their front line of relievers, and now were down to Josh Smoker and Hansel Robles, and we already went over Robles last night because he'd pitched three days in a row and had to be avoided at all costs. So it was Smoker to the whip and to his credit, Smoker put forth probably the finest outing of his career to date. He hadn't looked especially good in his early outings this season, but with his ass on the line he rose to the occasion and in three sterling innings allowed a meaningless hit, a meaningless walk, and nothing else, bridging the 12th, 13th and 14th innings. He had to, because the Mets were doing just as much bupkis against Junichi Tazawa and Nick Wittgren.

By the 15th, it had become spaghetti-at-the-wall time. Jacob deGrom took an at bat hitting for Smoker, which meant that on-fumes Hansel Robles was coming in the game. Full-strength Robles is already a dicey proposition, so you know what this meant. However, to his credit, Robles didn't cave after giving up a leadoff single that probably shouldn't have been a single but for the official scorer acting like a Marlin. And that sent the game to the 16th inning, where d'Arnaud connected off tonight's starter Adam Conley's second pitch and put it out in the seats, giving the Mets the lead. For d'Arnaud, who's really one of those "crossroads" guys this season, this hot start he's gotten off to has been major. Both to solidify his place on the team but moreso to simply remind everyone that he can do it. But of course he's now got to keep it up.

Meanwhile, Robles now had to protect a lead against the meat of the Marlins lineup, and so of course he walked Hamburgers Yelich to start the last of the 16th, to bring up Stanton and cause every Mets fan that was still awake at 12:45am to cover their eyes. And Stanton connected, but only managed to line out to right. Nickleback followed, and after a back-and-forth battle, Robles finally struck him out on what has to be one of the ugliest-looking changeups I've ever seen, just a dying quail of a pitch that wasn't particularly close to being a strike, but was waved at anyway. Ozuna followed and almost anticlimactically swung at the first pitch and flied out, ending this game and giving the Mets their 5th win in a row.

Phew. These kind of games are very mettle-testing both for fans and players and really, I'm glad I was home watching this one on TV and listening to Keith get progressively crankier as the game went on. Keith clearly isn't made for extra innings like this, but that's OK. At least the Mets won and at least I wasn't in the ballpark for it. By the 14th, I was thinking "one more inning, then I'll go to bed," but of course I kept on watching until things finished. And, well, if there was ever a game to do that, I suppose this was it.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Just Like They Drew it Up

On Monday, the Mets followed the script of just enough offense to back their pitching. Tuesday, the script was to just beat the hell out of the opponent.

On Wednesday, the script was apparently no script whatsoever.

The late scratch of Granderson prior to the series finale in Philadelphia led to the somewhat incongruous sight of Michael Conforto starting in Center field and batting 1st. I'm not sure if anybody ever projected Conforto as a leadoff hitter, but it seemed to work. In the 1st inning, he singled and scored on a Yoenis Cespedes double. In the 3rd, he blasted a Home Run out to left field off of Vince Velasquez. Later, he walked and scored on a Cespedes sac fly. Through 5 innings, he'd scored 3 of the 5 Mets runs, the Mets were running off with a 5-0 lead, and things were just lovely.

One of the reasons they were so lovely was that Zack Wheeler, in his second start back from his extended absence, was brilliant, shutting down the Phillies and looking more like what we'd hoped. I again think it will be a mixture of his first two starts for some time, but the hope, of course, is that we see more of what we saw through the first 5 innings last night as opposed to the dreck we saw against Miami.

Then, of course, Wheeler hit the 6th and ran out of steam, allowing two hits and a walk and then departing with two outs. This is OK in and of itself, except that in the 6th inning, the Mets seem to be in a bit of a grey area in their bullpen. This may right itself once Familia returns, but currently what we get in these spots is Hansel Robles, who was appearing for the 3rd game in a row. Robles, in the early going, is a leading candidate for a Ballclub Flog,  as evidenced by the fact that he came in and Maikel Franco immediately blasted his first pitch over the Center Field fence for a Grand Slam that turned an easy 5-0 lead into a hairy 5-4 game, results in doubt. And this is simply Robles. It's just Robles. No consistency and constant agita, and I didn't even have to listen to Joe Benigno to know he used that word to describe Robles.

So, now it's a one-run game and now this game has all the makings of one of those head-scratchers that gets away, and for whatever reason Robles is still in the game. He walks another guy before finally getting out of the 6th...and yet mysteriously there he was back out there in the 7th. Fortunately, after getting his good buddy Cameron Rupp to ground out he was removed and order was restored. The good quotient of the bullpen then followed, as Jerry Blevins got through the 7th, Fernando Salas commandeered the 8th and Addison Reed finished things off in the 9th, all of them accomplishing what they needed to with little drama. Which is just as well because the Mets stopped hitting after the 5th.

But, this Mets team has teeth, whether you want to recognize that or not. They won't win all the time and there will certainly be times that they will play those mystifying kinds of games where nothing goes right. But more often than not they're going to play like this, and in a situation where they need to lock it down, they're going to lock it down. It might not be quite the way it was intended, but in this series sweep of Philadelphia, they've proven they have many different ways that they can beat their opponent.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Everybody Wins!

The Mets had been kind of dancing and jabbing their way through the first week of the season, riding pitching, more pitching and Jay Bruce. But, finally, in the 8th game of the season, everyone woke up at once. The Mets bats banged out 20 hits and hit 7 Home Runs, 3 by Yoenis Cespedes, 2 from Lucas Duda, and 1 each from Travis d'Arnaud and Asdrubal Cabrera.

To nobody's surprise this took place in Philadelphia.

It's now been 3 times in club history that the Mets have hit 7 or more Home Runs in a game, and all three times it's happened at Citizens Bank Park. And you wonder why I kept referring to it as Steroid Field I all those years.

The Mets already had a 3-0 lead before Matt Harvey ever hit the mound, thanks to Yoenis Cespedes. While I was getting home from work and nodding off for a brief nap, he was busy golfing a Clay Buchholz offering out into the garden in Center Field. By time I woke up, he'd hit another, immediately following Asdrubal Cabrera's first of the season in the 4th inning. By this point, the Mets were ahead 8-1 and Reinvented Harvey was humming along.

In the 5th, Cespedes hit his 3rd Home Run and of course once that happened, all the focus turned to how many at bats he'd get over the remainder of the game, and how once he gets locked in, those Home Runs can come in bunches. To say nothing of the fact that by time Lucas Duda homered in the 6th and d'Arnaud hit one in the 8th, the Mets had three players that were a triple shy of a cycle...and of course it happened to be three of the least likely players to hit a triple. On the other hand, John Olerud hit for the cycle twice and he was one of the most glacial players in Mets history, so anything was possible.

None of these Baseball Oddities came to pass, and even Harvey's injury departure in the 6th turned into much ado about nothing...so how do you spin a game like this juxtaposed against every other time they've gone into Philadelphia and bludgeoned the Phillies into submission?

You don't, I suppose. You just take the 14-4 victory, put it in your back pocket and be happy about it, because the bottom line is that when everybody hits, everybody wins.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Glad You're Here

Philadelphia is a place where the Mets have, at least in the past couple of seasons, gone to wake up. Back in the days when the Phillies were the top banana in the league, it wasn't quite so pleasant, but as they're no longer the team to beat and those guys that made them such aren't around anymore, this neutered version of the Phillies are, well, kind of a punching bag. And the Mets treated them as such last year.

Still, I have this residual anxiety about playing the Phillies, probably because their young pitching staff can be sneaky good, as long as they remain healthy, and because the Mets have really stuck it to them so much over the past couple of years that they're probably pissed off and it's boiled over in a few sporadic instances.

Monday night was one such instance where their young pitching kept the Mets off balance and then they got a little chippy. But it didn't work. After Jerad Eickhoff mostly silenced the Mets for 7 innings, Edubray Ramos came into a tie game and immediately threw a pitch over Asdrubal Cabrera's head. You may recall what happened the last time these two crossed paths so I'd guess it wasn't lost on either party. But so that happened, benches got warned and the game went on. Ramos then proceeded to eat his lunch because he walked Cabrera and subsequently gave up a 2-run Home Run to Jay Bruce that ultimately served as the winning runs in this 4-3 Mets victory. For Bruce, who emphatically slammed home a high-five at home plate, this has to be a gratifying start. On Opening Day, I talked with George about how Bruce on this team didn't seem to make sense. George kept confusing him with Lucas Duda. It's not because I don't like Bruce or because he's destined to be a Ballclub Flog. It just felt as though he was here just because he had to. The Mets essentially found themselves stuck with him. And it wasn't lost on him either, and I can't imagine he was too thrilled about the situation either. But to his credit he's making the best of it and as most of the Mets batters have been kind of quiet over the first 7 games this season, Bruce has opened like a house afire and essentially won this game by himself (with an assist from the generally silently solid Jacob deGrom, who quashed an early rally, buckled down with less than his best stuff and ground out 6 solid innings).

This little gem of a game was of course mostly lost on me as I was out at a Passover Seder all night, as can happen early in the season. So I can't provide much in the way of observations beyond what I've seen on highlights. But I know pretty much everything I need to.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Sunday Hammers

I missed Saturday's game. That's nothing out of the ordinary since I missed most Saturday games last season, but at least unlike last season, I wasn't stuck on Long Island doing something I'd rather not have been doing. I was just out and didn't see the game, and based on how things turned out it's just as well. The Marlins once again did Stupid Marlin Things and the Mets couldn't recover.

So, in this early going, the Mets went into Sunday playing about as crucial a game as one could have for its 6th game of the season, trying to not get swept by the worms that are the Mickey Mouse Marlins and having to do so on The Biggest Game In The Galaxy, Sunday Night on ESPN. However, the Mets went out on The Biggest Game In The Galaxy with The Biggest Pitcher In The Galaxy and as such were able to ride 7 innings from Noah Syndergaard en route to a 5-2 victory to avert the sweep.

ESPN, as I've made note of in the past, has a tendency to latch on to one particular storyline during these games and run it into the ground. Usually, when the Mets are involved, this is at the Mets' expense. But when the opponent is the Marlins, who as a franchise are a punchline, there's not much they could do, and for as much as they tried to shove Giancarlo Stanton in our faces, he was little match for Syndergaard. In fact, most of the Marlins were little match, except for a 3rd inning hiccup that involved Billy Marlins, who further proved my theory that he's the most Marlin Marlin ever, and an untimely Yoenis Cespedes error. But after Dee Gordon doubled home two runs to make the score 3-2, Syndergaard knuckled down and, abetted by Rene Rivera, put the Marlins in their proper place. Gordon attempted to steal 3rd, and was thrown out. J.P. Regalbuto followed with an infield single and when he tried to get cute and steal 2nd, he got thrown out as well. From there, Syndergaard laid down the mjölnir and put the Marlins to sleep. There was something resembling a threat in the 5th inning, but little beyond that.

On the other side, the Mets ran out to a 3-0 lead in the 1st against Edinson Volquez, kicked off by an Asdrubal Cabrera bunt single. Later, Jay Bruce and Michael Conforto both hit Home Runs off of Volquez, the former in support of a continued hot start and the latter the kind of bomb we know he's capable of if he'd only just be allowed to start consistently. But that, then, is another discussion for another day.

For the Mets, it's now on to the first Road trip of the season and the hope that a little consistency will follow now that they're in the swing of playing on a regular basis.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Processes

It's easy to be disappointed in the way Zack Wheeler's return to the Major Leagues kind of fizzled out in a stream of bloops and blasts. But, then again, after having to go through the Big Boy Surgery, and then having to go through multiple setbacks while trying to come back from the damn thing, and ending up missing two entire seasons, I don't think it quite fair to view one game in a vacuum. Sure. You want him to come back, throw 5 shutout innings, tip his cap and everything will be great but it doesn't always work that way. Wheeler hasn't always worked that way. This comeback is a process, and this has to be viewed as just a step in that process. Simply making it back to the Major Leagues and pitching in a game is the accomplishment. The 4 innings, 6 hits, 5 runs and 4 strikeouts are just a starting point.

Back before Wheeler got hurt, which seems like a lifetime ago considering it was the tail end of The Dark Ages Of The Mets, you saw a lot of the inconsistencies that Wheeler displayed this evening. His fastball was great, but he struggled at times with the location and consistency of his secondary pitches, he'd get too fine, and then batters would wait and sit on his fastball. And, well, this is pretty much the story of his comeback game. He was clearly amped up in the 1st inning and shot through the Marlins with ease, throwing mostly fastballs. But in the 2nd, he started working in breaking pitches and things weren't working quite as well, and he gave up a walk, and a bloop hit, and then Billy Marlins cranked a 2-run triple and things fell apart from there. In the 3rd, it was more of the same. A dunk hit preceded a long Home Run by Hamburgers Yelich, and Wheeler's night was officially a nightmare. Don't even get me started on it happening against the Marlins, who seem just as irritating as ever, especially if Keith Hernandez keeps fawning over their wonderful Outfielders. Ultimately, the game dissolved into one of those miserable April Night Games where it's freezing, the Mets are getting killed, and everybody just leaves after the 6th inning.

I know this because I've been to games like that. And don't think I wasn't tempted to go out there tonight to see Wheeler's return. But, perhaps wisdom and old age has begun to win out, as I knew early in the day that it was going to be cold and lousy out, and the last thing I wanted to do was to sit out at Citi Field and freeze my ass off, when it's Friday and I'm tired and cranky. In fact, that's what happened. I watched three innings of this game, got fed up, started having one of my Marlin-induced bouts of blind rage, then started to fall asleep, and ultimately shut the game off and took a nap. In the past, I feel like I would have rooked myself into going to more games in this Opening Week homestand, but perhaps I've finally wised up.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

He's Still Here

I have at times felt like I'm the last Mets fan in Matt Harvey's corner. I know that we all want him to do well, and I also know that he's brought some of his issues on himself for one reason or another, but I've seen no reason why Harvey couldn't persevere, shake off his issues and regain some of the luster that he'd lost over the past year. He's already proven that he can come back from a major injury and be successful. In reality, and I've said this before, people seem to just have a problem with Matt Harvey being Matt Harvey. This Spring, while every time he took the mound seemed to be scrutinized, most people were up in arms over the fact that he was seen cavorting around Miami with a model, drinking and smoking and generally having a nice little date for himself. And because he's Matt Harvey, this gives everyone free license to point and yell about what a jerk he is, and how the Mets need to trade him because he's a distraction and a cancer.

Does not compute. We've all been on dates with models and drank and smoked, and nobody's following us around with cameras and posting photos on the internet, and people at our jobs aren't yelling about how we need to be traded. So I say baloney. I think people's dislike of Harvey is based mostly on jealousy. He projects an aura of arrogance but in reality is probably just as insecure as anyone else. The difference is he pitches for the Mets and most people do not.

So that all lines up for this evening's game at Citi Field, which was Harvey's first start since he got run off the mound last July and then went under the knife for the second time in 3 years. It was hard to know what to expect, since his Florida outings were kind of a mixed bag and he wasn't throwing with quite the same pop as he used to. And he was facing the Braves, who'd cuffed him around more than once last year. But out of the darkness, Harvey re-emerged as a pitcher, and rather than trying to blow everyone away instead used what he had, working with a fastball in the mid-90s instead of the high 90s, and dropping curves and sliders and changeups and generally inducing weak contact. He shot through the 1st inning on 6 pitches, entered the 7th having thrown only 67, and by time he departed after 6.2 innings, he'd allowed 3 hits, no walks and 4 strikeouts, while only being touched up for a pair of solo Home Runs from Matt Kemp. More importantly, by time the 7th inning started, and Harvey kicked things off by striking out Dansby Swanson and Freddie Freeman, you actually started to hear those "HAR-VEY! HAR-VEY!" chants once again.

Offensively, the Mets again started slow, facing Jaime Garcia, the ex-Cardinal who seems oddly out of place on this Braves team. It took until the 5th for the Mets to finally break through, when Neil Walker singled, and Jay Bruce walked, and then Travis d'Arnaud doubled both of them home, a good sign since d'Arnaud hit something like .035 with runners in scoring position last year. In the 6th, the Mets extended their lead when Wilmer Flores did what he usually does against left handed pitchers and hit a 2-run Home Run, and in the 7th, the Mets put the game away with two more runs. Fernando Salas and Addison Reed then salted away the final innings of this 6-2 victory.

The story, however, will be Harvey, who embarked on a bit of a redemption of sorts and proved that although he might not be the pitcher he was two years ago, and may never again be the pitcher he was four years ago, he's still a good pitcher and he still is capable of being someone we can count on to deliver a good performance.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

And Here We Go Again

I know that the Mets weren't actually going to go 162-0 for the 2017 season, but still, you watch games in the early going of the season, particularly when they win on Opening Day, and you sort of hope they can just postpone that inevitable first loss of the season. But, it's going to happen whether you like it or not, so you may as well just get it out of the way quick. So, after a rousing start on Monday, the Mets came back on Wednesday, got a solid start from Jacob deGrom, had a hard time with our old friend Bartolo Colon, went deep into Extra Innings, couldn't capitalize on some opportunities and ultimately lost in the 12th inning when Rafael Montero couldn't get out of his own jam.

These games are bound to happen and in fact, I think I've seen this game before. It's an April Wednesday night. It might not have been a cool day during the day but at Citi Field it probably feels about 40˚ at game time and only gets worse as the evening goes on. The #2 starters for each team throw zeroes at each other. Maybe each team scores a run. Both teams threaten in late innings but some steely bullpen work keeps the game tied. And then it goes into Extra Innings and the Mets just kind of run out of steam and the opponent scores multiple times and the Mets can't get off the mat. That was this game. Fortunately, I wasn't there. It sort of sounds like the kind of game I might be at but it wasn't on my plan and I've sort of learned my lesson about going to extra April Night Games.

Instead, I was home, trying out this newfangled internet radio that my other half bought me during the offseason (and required me purchasing an MLB At Bat subscription). I don't particularly mind this, given how used I am to listening to games on the radio, and also since I am in the habit of getting home and conking out for a spell. I'm not quite in midseason form just yet. It'll come. But so here I am with this "radio," and there's Howie and Josh and deGrom is on the mound looking like his old self, and Bartolo Colon is incongruously pitching for the Braves and everyone is going bonkers. Jay Bruce hit a Home Run in the 5th inning—and after 3 walks on Opening Day perhaps he's the one off to the hot start out of the gate—but otherwise there wasn't much in the way of action.

Then, deGrom departed in the 7th and things went haywire. Hansel Robles, who you'd think would be past this after two seasons, came in, immediately gave up a triple to Nick Markakis, walked another guy, gave up a game-tying double and was right on the precipice of disaster when Terry Collins mercifully removed him. And this is why nobody's every totally comfortable with Hansel Robles, because for every time he has a lockdown inning like he did on Monday, he's just as likely to come back the next night and leave a giant turd on the mound. Fortunately, Jerry Blevins came in and cleaned up the mess.

The game then turned over to the bullpens and not much of consequence happened after that. Fernando Salas, Addison Reed and Josh Edgin were all just fine, but the Mets couldn't capitalize on in the 8th and 10th when the game seemed to be right there for the taking. The 10th was particularly irritating, when after Bruce doubled and Lucas Duda was given a mulligan (still processing this new intentional walk rule), Travis d'Arnaud, who along with Robles seems to be an early candidate for The Ballclub's Flog of the Year, then struck out watching a pair of pitches that might as well have been sitting on a tee for him, and Ty Kelly, batting probably because Collins was playing matchups in a spot where T.J. Rivera probably should have hit, struck out as well.

So, it came down to Rafael Montero. After a few seasons that at best could be considered iffy, he had a strong spring and worked himself back into everyone's good graces. But he's still not showing what I'd consider decent command and he got himself into trouble in the 11th and again in the 12th. The difference was that in the 11th, he was able to get out of it. In the 12th, he got a necessary 2nd out with men on 1st and 2nd. Freddie Freeman was then rightfully punted to 1st Base so Montero could pitch to Matt Kemp. Given that Montero's stuff had been lively and Kemp was looking fastball on the first pitch, the smart thing to do would have been to either bury a changeup in the dirt or throw a slider 3 feet outside and let him wave at it. But nooooooo. Montero had to be a hero and fire a fastball on the inside corner, right where Kemp was looking to whack it into the Left Field corner for a 2-run double.

That was the end of the meaningful portion of the night. Jay Bruce hit with 2 out in the last of the 12th but Lucas Duda was subsequently pretzelized by Jim Johnson and thus, the Mets got their first loss of the season hung on them, and I suppose it's fitting it's to Atlanta. They were a pain in the ass last year and I suspect this will be the case again this year. Meanwhile, the same guys who looked so good down in Florida and got our hopes up all turned back into pumpkins the first opportunity they were given. So Robles, d'Arnaud and Montero need to get their asses in gear. I know it's two games in but teams with World Series aspirations can't have the same dumb guys doing the same dumb shit day after day.

Sigh. The lone upside I can see to all this was that I was not there to freeze my ass off for this one. I suspect I would have gotten fed up and left after the 11th but who knows. Sometimes, I'm still pretty stupid when it comes to this stuff.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Everything In Its Right Place

Monday's season lid-lifter at Citi Field was about everything you could ask for as far as the results of the first game of the season. The weather, which had heretofore been kind of dicey and in April at Citi Field can be downright brutal, suddenly turned bright and sunny and warm at around 11am, right around the time I arrived at Citi Field. George was with me as per usual, marking what I believe is 11 of the last 13 Opening Day games we've been present for. Howie Rose was on the field by 12:40 to blow the Shofar and welcome us to the 2017 National League season in New York, fans warmly welcomed back our team, as well as some fondly-remembered players on the opposing side, and then it was business time. Noah Syndergaard hit the mound and pitched, well, basically the way you'd expect him to pitch, mixing things up, getting out of jams and keeping the Braves off the scoreboard until a blister forced him from the game after 6 innings. The Mets had a hard time with Julio Teheran—because they always have a hard time with Julio Teheran—until he departed in the 7th, where the Mets capitalized on a replay reversal and then bombed the Atlanta bullpen into submission and cruised home with a 6-0 victory to start their season.

It had been some time since I'd seen George; this offseason has been somewhat checkered for me and certainly from a mental standpoint, though I might not have been especially prepared for it, I was more than ready to get back to the sanctuary of Citi Field. But at any rate I spent most of the pregame discussing with him reasons why I believe now that the Mets are going to win the World Series this season, and really, what it boils down to more than anything is that it's simply their time in the arc of this era, if this era of the Mets is going to be what we want it to be. They had the near-miss, they had the regression and somehow turned it into another near-miss, so now, it's time to strike.

But that was preamble and there was still the matter of seats and ceremonies and concessions and hordes of people to work through. I'd mentioned I upgraded my seats; after four years of bouncing between sections 512 and 513, I've moved down to 418, because it's just time for a change. However, the Mets for whatever reason decided to get cute and put me in different seats for Opening Day. Different seats being Section 106, sure, it's the Field level, but it's jammed down in the Right Field Corner. Not exactly where I would have preferred to sit. For one, you can't see the field directly in front of you. Two, you can't see the scoreboard above Right Field, which is where important things like pitch count and scoring calls are generally displayed. Three, because it's the Field Level, and because of the assorted "entertainment" options down there, it seems to be more crowded than the Promenade, and for whatever reason it seems there are substantially fewer restrooms, which is problematic...


...and as you can see in this video, you're kind of displaced from the action. But on the upside I got a real good view of Syndergaard's pregame routine.



Also a lovely view of Bartolo Colon's backside as he was introduced to a roaring ovation.


And then it was time to introduce our guys...


...and get hyped...


...And, finally, get on with the show!

The game from that point was a little bit of a blur, for a few reasons. For one, I, and this should illustrate how ill-prepared I was for Opening Day, didn't eat anything before the game. I almost always get something to eat before the game but for whatever reason, I waited. At the end of the 1st inning, I got up to use the restroom, thinking it would be quick and painless. WRONG. I attempted to use the restroom by Section 103 only to find the line stretching across the concourse and in fact splitting into two lines because everyone stopped caring. So that was already a clusterfuck. Then, I decided to get something to eat while I was up, and found the most palatable line to be at the Sausage stand by Section 105. Only I got on line somewhere in the bottom of the 2nd inning and didn't return to my seat until the top of the 4th. That's a bad job by me. It's a bad job by everyone, really, because there were rumblings of credit card terminals down, but really, it was a bad job by me. That's the kind of rookie move I don't usually make.

Fortunately, in this digital age, I was able to look at my phone and catch up on my scorecard. Of course, I sat down just in time for Freddie Freeman to bang one off the Right Field fence and after Jay Bruce mangled the carom, what should have been a double was a triple and the Braves were primed to strike first. Except that Syndergaard is unmoved by these kind of things and responded by putting the Baseball version of a sleeperhold on the Braves, striking out Matt Kemp and Nick Markakis to end the threat. More trouble unfolded in the 6th when Dansby Swanson and Freeman singled and Atlanta had runners on 1st and 3rd and 1 out, but, again, Syndergaard brushed this aside by striking out Kemp again and getting Markakis to fly out, ending the threat and, of course, thanks to the infamous blister, ending his afternoon.

Still, the Mets offense was stagnant against Teheran, which as I said wasn't terribly surprising since the Mets always have trouble with him. But he too departed after 6 and the Mets attacked the Braves patently awful bullpen right away. Ian Krol was first up and he allowed a hit to Rene Rivera. Wilmer Flores followed, pinch hitting for Hansel Robles, and after being greeted with his usual standing ovation, grounded into a Fielder's choice. He then stole 2nd Base, which I suppose was his way of taking advantage of the Braves kind of falling asleep on him. Jose Reyes walked and then Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a clean single to center for his 3rd hit of the day. Flores was sent home, which if you'll recall is the play that finished his season last year, and although it seemed close he was called out at the plate. However, were I sitting in my normal seats, high up and behind Home Plate, I would have seen that Flores snuck his foot in ahead of the tag. Replay, of course, reversed the call, Flores had the first run of the season for the Mets, and the gates opened up from there. There were pitching changes, walks, more pitching changes, more walks and finally the carcass of Eric O'Flaherty was on the mound and Lucas Duda clanged one off the Center Field fence for a 3-run double that made the score 6-0 and removed any particular drama from the afternoon. Fernando Salas for the 8th, a surprise cameo by Robert Gsellman in the 9th, easy enough and off we go!

Certainly, there will be plenty of bad/irritating/exasperating things to happen to the Mets over the course of the subsequent 161 games. That's Baseball. The goal, really, is to minimize the issues and keep putting forth games like this when you are clearly better than your opponent. One of the Mets larger issues in 2016, besides the fact that everyone was hurt and the replacements stopped hitting for 3 months, was their inability to handle inferior teams. I'm pulling numbers out of my ass but I believe they were something like 7-12 against Atlanta and an equivalent of bad against other non-division lousy teams, and those 7 wins were difficult wins. By and large the Mets should win more of these games this season. Yesterday was a good start.