Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Happy Harvey Conforto Day!

I was back at Citi Field on Tuesday, though I have to say I did so with some reticence. I knew I'd be going to at least one of the Padres games this week, but I was trying to pick my matchups. For as much as I'd like to see Matt Harvey do well, I at this point felt he'd had too much to overcome and too far to go to get his act together to comfortably assume it safe to attend one of his starts. That left me to choose between Wednesday and Thursday, and initially, I'd been leaning toward Wednesday as deGrom was scheduled. But some factors precluded me from going ahead with the switch. First, when I checked on Monday, I saw that Gsellman, not deGrom, was scheduled for Wednesday. Then, I attempted to go ahead and change my tickets online, only to be blocked from doing so because I forgot that I could only exchange tickets up to 48 hours prior to the game. So, I had to suck it up, go on Tuesday and hope for the best.

I did get someone's best on Tuesday. It wasn't Matt Harvey's best. This was just as well. It was actually Michael Conforto's best. While Harvey pitched 5 innings worth of ugly, Conforto pretty much stole the game from his first At Bat. Leading off against Jhoulys Chacin, Conforto got behind in the count and then started whacking everything Chacin threw him foul. Some gentlemen sitting behind me in Section 418 were yelling at him to "Lay the bunt down! Show some strategy and get a bunt down!" but Conforto seemed to be having none of that. It took him until the 10th pitch of the At Bat before he finally got something he could handle and drove it out into the Mets Bullpen. Having thrown Conforto basically everything he had, Chacin summarily turned to mush from there and the Mets just clobbered him to death. Jose Reyes got a hit, as did Bruce and Walker, Wilmer Flores drove in a run, Lucas Duda doubled home two, Rene Rivera singled, and all of a sudden there was Conforto up again and driving in two more runs with a single to Left, making the score 7-0 and ending Chacin's night before he could negotiate through the 1st inning.

Handed this bounty, Matt Harvey went out in the 2nd inning against a completely punchless Padres lineup and walked the first batter, Ryan Schimpf. He then gave up a double to Hunter Renfroe, and then back-to-back run-scoring ground outs. The rest of Harvey's evening was similarly laborious. He walked two more batters, including Craig Stammen, who relieved Chacin, in the 3rd. In the 4th, he walked Austin Hedges with 2 outs and was fortunate that no further damage was done because although Erick Aybar hit a shot, the ball hit Hedges and resulted in an inning-ending out (haven't seen that happen in a while). In the 5th, he did not walk anyone, but he did allow a single, and in fact also struck out the side. But by that point Harvey was up over 100 pitches, and even in the 400 level I could tell that he didn't look especially comfortable through most of them. He was dragging. Watching him was a drag. It was a good thing that the Mets had run out to such a large lead.

It was 7-2 when Conforto came up for the 3rd time in the 4rd inning and hit his 2nd Home Run of the night, a shot way out into the high-130s seats in Left-center. Conforto had basically taken over the storyline for the night. Afforded two more opportunities to hit a 3rd Home Run, he grounded out in the 6th and was hit by a pitch in the 8th, which drew plenty of jeers in spite of the fact that he took a curveball off his back. Irregardless, when I remember this particular 9-3 Mets victory, I'll remember two things: I'll remember the loud group of Long Islanders that were sitting a row in front of me and kept getting up, getting drunk, taking selfies and generally interfering with my view of the game, and I'll remember how Michael Conforto stole the show because Harvey couldn't get out of his own way. Although, right now, I think Conforto stands a pretty good chance of stealing the show most nights. He's proven this quite emphatically.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Quick Out

You could almost feel a game like Sunday's brewing for the Mets, just based on the way Saturday night's game ended. After nearly blowing a large lead but hanging on to win Saturday, the Mets got their doors blown off before most of the crowd had even settled into their seats on Sunday. Tommy Milone was the victim on this particular day, as the Angels lit him up like the Crash Davis proverbial Christmas Tree early and often and then tacked on some more runs late against Hansel Robles to win the final game of this series, 12-5.

I know no Mets fan was probably expecting great things from Milone, but if nothing else, I'd like to think he's capable of more than the basically non-competitive effort he threw out there yesterday afternoon. He'd already done himself no favors by loading the bases with no outs, and then walking .154 hitting cleanup batter Jefry Marte to force in a run. Then, of course, he laid a meatball out there for C.J. Cron to whack in the seats for a Grand Slam and that basically was the game right there. I know that Terry Collins would have preferred to let Milone at least eat a few innings in a lost cause, but he allowed two more Home Runs in the 2nd, one of which was to Mike Trout, and I suppose if there was ever a good time to give up one to Trout, it was when the Mets were already behind by 5. Mercifully, Milone was pulled at 8-0, although one would have thought Rafael Montero wasn't exactly a marked improvement.

The Mets did make some kind of thinly-veiled effort to make the game respectable against Jesse Chavez, who I thought was some up-and-coming hotshot prospect for Oakland before he got traded 3 times and I realized he's actually 33 and has been in the Majors since 2008. The Mets did reach him for 3 Home Runs and cut a 9-0 deficit to 9-5 by the 6th inning, but then Hansel Robles came in for the 7th and set the record straight by puking up another 3 runs, thanks to an Andrelton Simmons Home Run. And for whatever reason, probably because I've had my fill of Robles, this bothered me more than Milone's stink bomb. With Milone, there are no expectations, and as such when he gets battered around the ballpark, you can't be too surprised and he probably won't be here much longer. With Robles, there is no excuse. He's been here 3 years and he still can't get his shit together and learn how to pitch, and even Keith Hernandez has started calling him out on that. The Mets used to have a pitcher named Manny Acosta,—Remember him? I'd rather not but I'm forced to invoke him here—and Acosta was one of those pitchers who kept hanging around and hanging around in spite of the fact that he was totally useless. We kept getting spoonfed tales about how he had "great stuff," and yet every time he came in a game, you could literally see him blindly rearing back and heaving the ball as hard as he possibly could in the general direction of Home Plate, and the results were generally disastrous. And it seems to me that Robles is basically doing the same thing. He's just heaving it up there as hard as he can without any particular regard for strategy or situation. I can't trust him in a key spot. Would you? I know I'm nitpicking and the Mets probably weren't going to win this game anyway, but you want to have the starch totally taken out of your sales? Try trimming 9-0 to 9-5 with 3 more at bats against an awful bullpen and have your own guy give up another 3 runs to negate the work you've done.

Bleh. Enough railing on Robles. Who has the energy? Just wipe this one off and come back Tuesday ready to start clean.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Baseball Hell

Last night's Mets game somehow ended up being scheduled on FOX, which as we know always goes wonderfully for the Mets. Generally, when the Mets are on National TV like that, they get sloughed off on the lesser announcers, so I feared that I'd be stuck spending my evening listening to Matt Vasgersian screeching, although at some point I'd remembered that Kevin Burkhart is still doing games for them, and it would have been nice to have him announcing the game. Much to my dismay, the game was being called by Joe Buck. I didn't know Joe Buck still absconded to doing regular season games. If that wasn't bad enough, he was joined in the booth by Alex Rodriguez.

Seriously? Joe Buck and Alex Rodriguez? I feel like if I were sentenced to an eternity in hell, every Baseball game would be broadcast by Joe Buck and Alex Rodriguez. There was no game. It was just Joe Buck and Alex Rodriguez doing their own little show. Did you know Alex Rodriguez was wearing a Tom Ford suit? Joe Buck made sure you knew. Did you know Alex Rodriguez grew up as a Mets fan and idolized Keith Hernandez? Joe Buck mentioned that about 40 times, just in case you might not have heard him. Oh, that chuckleheaded doofus Ken Rosenthal was there, too. Joe Buck made sure you knew he spent 90 minutes tying his bow tie. But did you know that Terry Collins became the longest-tenured Mets manager? Joe mentioned that too, but in such a offhanded manner that if you coughed, you missed it.

There was a game going on behind all this, if you could pay attention beyond the white noise coming from the booth, and the Mets did play a solid game for the most part. Zack Wheeler pitched well for 5 innings before running out of steam in the 6th—the same problem he usually has where he throws too many pitches too early in the game. Michael Conforto walked 3 times, Jose Reyes had 3 hits, including the 2,000th of his career, and generally the Mets seemed to be having an easy time of things against Alex Meyer, who by the way is really tall and it's uncomfortable hitting against a pitcher who's so tall. Joe Buck told me that a few times.

At some point I kind of tuned out altogether, because the Mets were ahead and I couldn't deal with it anymore. By that point, I know that Robert Gsellman had come in and had two pretty good reclamation innings, and probably should have finished the game altogether, except that he'd been hit for, and so Neil Ramirez entered the game and immediately showed us all why he was floating around the waiver wire by allowing a walk and 2 hits, and then Addison Reed was brought into a messy inning and he was having a hard time too, walking in a run and giving up a hit, and suddenly Mike Trout was up with the bases loaded, and he swung, and I think when he made contact every Mets fan had a heart attack, but Reed must have thrown him a sucker pitch because he didn't hit it well and it only wound up being a sacrifice fly. Nonetheless, 7-2 had turned into a tenuous 7-5, and Reed managed to walk another batter to re-load the bases before he finally struck out Danny Espinosa to end the game—and we've already seen enough of Danny Espinosa with the bases loaded.

Phew. That was wholly unnecessary as far as drama was concerned, and it was on top of a wholly unnecessary night spent listening to the dulcet tones of Joe Buck and Alex Rodriguez, while Ken Rosenthal intermittently chortled and told us how awful the Mets are. Fortunately, it's back to our usual gang on Sunday, and yes, I know we're unnecessarily spoiled by getting to listen to Gary, Keith and Ron every night, but sometimes you need to listen to the lesser guys to remember just how good we have it. That would be the exact opposite of Baseball Hell.

Friday, May 19, 2017

I Fixed It

Last Tuesday, I went to the Mets/Giants game and the Mets won.
Tonight, I went to the Mets/Angels game and the Mets won.

In between then and now, the Mets did not win, so perhaps I righted some cosmic force that had sucked the Mets into its vortex.

Friday night was but my 5th game of the season, when often I can be up to 8 or 9 games in mid-May, but that's simply how things work out. This wasn't even one of my regularly scheduled games; I'd swapped into the date from another night I couldn't attend. I was there with an old friend who hadn't yet been to a game at Citi Field, mostly due to the fact that he lives on the other side of the country, and whom I hadn't been to a Mets game with altogether in no less than 15 years. So that was good, and of course I have a wealth of experience introducing friends to Citi Field.

The game itself of course was one of those "Rarity" matchups, since the Angels of whatever municipality they're from only come to Citi Field but once every few years. I've caught them in town previously, in 2005 and again in 2011, although neither of those games ended particularly well. Given that the Mets were limping home, hot, out of humor and teetering on the edge of laughingstockdom once again (Thanks, Ratso Wilpon), one could not be blamed for fearing a similar result to those prior affairs. But I had a good pregame omen when I picked up a Free Shirt Friday leftover for winning Pete McCarthy's pre-game trivia at the WOR tent outside the stadium (Q: Name a Met who'd hit for the cycle. My A: Alex Ochoa). What that was a good omen for, I'm not quite certain, but any time you can snag a bonus shirt, I guess you have to take that as something positive.

So then it was inside for the game. The Angels, well, I don't know much about them other than they seem to be a popular landing spot for former Met Foils. Their lineup was littered with names such as Andrelton Simmons, Danny Espinosa, Cameron Maybin and hell, they were even starting Ricky Nolasco, who I believe pitched against the Mets 247 times during his Marlins tenure. This, of course, was the backup for Mike Trout, the best player on the planet right now and one of those rare visiting players who earns applause on the road out of respect. This was what was facing Jacob deGrom, who, much like everyone else on the team, just needed a good outing to right his ship. His strikeout numbers were great, but he'd been fizzling out with a number of walks and high pitch counts, and short outings, and ultimately no decisions.

So, what does he do? He walks Maybin on 4 pitches to start the game. Because of course he did. But Maybin did a fine job of handing it back by deciding it wasn't worth his time to wait for deGrom to throw another pitch and just taking off for 2nd, where he was thrown out with ease. Following that, deGrom reverted back to his old self, allowing a meaningless single to Trout and little beyond that. The Mets managed to reach Nolasco for a run in the last of the 1st thanks more to the Angels defense short circuiting. Conforto led off with a sinking line drive that Maybin apparently tried to catch with his face, and Reyes followed by laying down a bunt and would have been thrown out had C.J. Cron bothered to step on 1st base. Curtis Granderson delivered the payoff with a 2-out double that may or may not have bounced into the tarp roller but apparently gave Maybin enough of a problem to wave his hands and get a ground rule double called. Things calmed down from there until the 6th, when Rene Rivera delivered a 2-out single to score Neil Walker.

This was plenty for deGrom for the most part, who pretty much coasted from the 1st through to the 6th, in the process striking out Trout in the 4th to everyone's delight. But he ran into trouble in the 7th, first allowing a double to Simmons, because what's a game without Simmons being annoying? Then, there was a mysterious visit from Terry Collins and Ray Ramirez, which is always a good sign, but apparently deGrom talked his way out of it before Ratso Wilpon could press his "panic button." This initially didn't go well, as the blister or callous issue that deGrom had got the better of him. He walked Cron and then hit Martin Maldonado to load the bases. That brought up Espinosa, who I believe has 4 career Grand Slams and all of them were against the Mets. But with imminent disaster staring him in the face, deGrom struck out Espinosa. Ben Revere followed, and, well, what would this game be without another guy who played for every other NL East team? Revere flared a little dunker over 2nd base that appeared ticketed for game-tying-single-dom but for Jose Reyes pulling a little fountain of youth act and just tipping the ball enough with his glove to bat it in the air so he could re-catch it altogether for the 2nd out. Maybin spared any further drama by flying out on the 1st pitch, ending the inning, ending the threat, and ending deGrom's night with a clean ledger, no runs and 9 strikeouts for his 7 innings of work.

After all that, Michael Conforto did what the Angels hitters couldn't and drove one into the Left Field seats on the first pitch from Jose Alvarez. To Left off a Lefty. Is this discussion still necessary?

The remainder of the proceedings were pleasantly uneventful, as Jerry Blevins allowed another meaningless single to Trout before turning things over to Paul Sewald in the 8th, and Addison Reed had a 1-2-3 inning in the 9th. And, so, this long, strange, aggravating 7-game losing streak was over on the backs of this 3-0 victory. Was it the presence of long-overdue company? The rarity of the matchup? The bonus free shirt? Whatever it was, perhaps I'd sucked some karmic energy from the Mets the last time I was there and brought it back with me on Friday night. However, I hope I've left it at Citi Field so that the Mets can continue to win games.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Gets Late Early

I know last week I didn't see and barely followed the midweek afternoon game against the Giants and my conclusion was that it was just as well since the Mets spit up a lead and lost the game. I think the same could basically be said of yesterday afternoon's game in Arizona. The only difference being that as it was on the West Coast, or as West as Arizona can be as they float between time zones for reasons I am not meant to understand, the game started at the bizarre time of 3:40 and ended up dragging out long enough that it ended as I was getting home at around 7.

What did I miss? From the end result, another 5-4 Mets loss that took 11 innings to negotiate, I would assume not much. I've mentioned innumerable times that I follow, often halfheartedly, the game on MLB Gamecast so I knew that Michael Conforto hit an early Home Run—which seems to be an almost regular occurrence—and Matt Harvey summarily tried to hand it back rather quickly. I'm not quite certain whether this outing is going to be spun as a "building block" game for Harvey or whether we just have to temper our expectations for him that this is just going to be the norm and he's turned into another Marcum. I of course hope that it's the former but every time he seems to take a step forward, he short-circuits himself. He gave up a run in the 1st, a 2-run Home Run to Jake Lamb in the 3rd, and yet was in a position to win when he left in the 6th, because Juan Lagares hit a rare  Home Run in the 4th and spurred a rally.

But, Arizona tied the game against Robert Gsellman, who mysteriously appeared in relief when I was expecting to see him start back at home on Friday, and maybe that's a bit of a relief as well since I wasn't exactly relishing the thought of his mixed bag. And then I left work and as the game was tied I wasn't quite certain what to expect other than at some point I figured I'd get a final score buzz. Eventually, I did, and it was the eye-rolling result of F/11 ARZ 5 NYM 4. That was all I really needed to know, but the backstory of course was that Jerry Blevins and Addison Reed pitched well, and then as the game moved into extra innings Rafael Montero got the call and when Montero gets the call, well...you know. He was at least courteous enough to allow the walkoff Home Run to his first batter, Chris Herrmann, but it still took him 7 pitches to get there, so I guess he can't even blow the game right.

Ugh. Is there anything else that can be said? I thought the Mets might have been able to wash the stink off in Arizona but they've instead just managed to make it worse. At some point I'm going to have to stop kidding myself into thinking they'll snap out of it. Unless they actually snap out of it.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Tuesday Night Ennui

I know the final score of Tuesday night's game was 5-4, which means the Mets were very much in it to the end but sometimes, you have close games that really don't feel very close. This was one such game.

The Mets seem to have a habit lately of scoring a single run very early in the game and then just kind of standing around while the other team blows by them. This happened on Tuesday as the Mets went ahead in the 2nd, and then the Diamondbacks, resplendent in their toothpaste-colored jerseys, blew up for 4 runs in the 3rd off of Tommy Milone. I guess this shouldn't be of much surprise to anyone. There were a string of ringing hits and even a steal of Home by Paul Goldschmidt that resulted in the Keith Hernandez trademark apoplectic shit fit. You know, as opposed to the Mets fans trademark apoplectic shit fit that's been going on for most of the season.

I give Milone credit for, if nothing else, not folding his tent after the sky fell in on him in the 3rd. He managed to make it into the 6th before allowing a Home Run to Yasmani Tomas, which I can't really fault him for since Tomas appears to be the NL West's version of Ryan Howard and allowing a Home Run to him is basically a rite of passage.

By that point the game had sort of dissolved into nothingness, to the point where the highlight of the game was probably Ed Lynch visiting the SNY booth and waxing poetic with Keith Hernandez. I don't remember what inning it was, only that it happened and, well, my stance on Lynch has always been that for whatever he lacked as a Pitcher, he more than made up for in personality. Anyone who read Keith's first book knows that they were and continue to be good friends (Lynch being the infamous "itinerant ballplayer" that crashed on Keith's couch for the first month of the '85 season).

That was more interesting than the game itself! I know that Curtis Granderson hit a Home Run and later Rene Rivera, who mysteriously has turned into a world-beater over the past week, also hit a 2-run Home Run against Zack Greinke and that cut the score to 5-4, but you kind of had this feeling that the Mets weren't going to get anything further and surprise, surprise they didn't. The bullpen—tonight consisting of Paul Sewald, Fernando Salas and Jerry Blevins—didn't allow anything further, which was nice, but the Mets offense had already put away their bats for the night and off of hillbilly Archie Bradley and ancient Fernando Rodney the Mets did little more than strike out a bunch of times and lost to the Diamondbacks for the second night in a row and ran this current streak of misery to 6.

I'd like to think the Mets won't go 0-for-this road trip but I'm not confident in that feeling. I keep dropping these barbs about the Mets needing a little humiliation in order to get to the bottom of their problems, but really, such an instance shouldn't be necessary multiple times before June.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Puss

I made some mention about Hansel Robles and the great big puss on his face he walked around with all night on Saturday in Milwaukee, and on Monday, he came out of the bullpen in a 1-1 game in the 8th inning in Arizona and he had that same stupid puss on his face before he even hit the mound. So you knew right then and there the Mets were screwed.

They'd managed to get to this point by getting good pitching from Zack Wheeler for 6 innings. Somehow Wheeler has become the most reliable, stabilizing presence on this staff which is alternately great if you consider what he's been through to get back to this point, and terrible because that means the Mets' best pitcher has a 120-inning cap that he's going to blow through by the All Star Break. But for now he's pitched quite well, and he managed to make it through 6 innings allowing nothing beyond a Jake Lamb Home Run.

Unfortunately, the Mets left their offense in Milwaukee and against Zack Godley, whom I only know from Baseball cards but apparently pitched a game against the Mets last season, they only managed one run themselves.

So it was 1-1 in the 8th and Robles came in and immediately allowed a screamer to Paul Goldschmidt that looked like it was a Home Run. But replay reversed the call and Goldschmidt was sent back to 2nd base. Essentially this was just delaying the inevitable as Mr. Puss just cocked around a little bit before allowing an actual Home Run—this one of the 3-run variety to Yasmani Tomas—and then turned to mush from there. Jeff Mathis, whom we were constantly reminded is a career .195 hitter, homered off Robles as well, and 1-1 very quickly turned into 7-1 and everything was therefore horrible once again.

I know everyone in the bullpen at this point is culpable and I prefer to point my fingers at them than at Terry Collins, because every team has a bullpen that they need to use basically every night as it's no longer 1975 and pitchers cannot throw complete games. Your bullpen is only as good as the pitchers you have in there and if it seems as though the bullpen is overused, well, maybe they are but I think "overuse" is sort of loaded in this instance because just consider if the guys in the bullpen were pitching as often as they were and doing well? Would they still be "overused?" Point is, I'm not totally certain that these guys are overused so much as they're mediocre and at the forefront of this is Robles, who got torched on Saturday, torched again last night and more often than not he gets torched and then stomps around with that puss on his face. So, enough. He's gone from having Jeurys Familia-like potential to ending up with Erik Goeddel-like results, so I'm slapping the "Trades high/Good stuff" label on him until he proves to me different.

I have a feeling I could be waiting a while.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Exasparation

There have been seasons, or maybe I'm remembering wrong and it's just season, where the Mets were kind of dancing and jabbing, and then they went to Milwaukee and their entire season just got the life sucked out of it.

I know it's still May but after the way this past weekend played out I feel like I watched the same thing happen to the Mets. They had early leads both Saturday and Sunday, their starters gassed themselves way too early, the Brewers came back and then lit the Mets bullpen on fire.

Saturday, things seemed to be perfectly nice early in the game. Though Robert Gsellman struggled early, he settled down, got some runs thanks to Kevin Plawecki, who came through with a rare double, and from Neil Walker, who Homered, and everything was hunky dory until the 5th when Gsellman just lost it and the roof caved in. Brewers hitters started stringing hits together, guys I'd never heard of were coming off the bench and hitting (Jesus Aguilar? Didn't he surface with the 2010 Mets?), Gsellman was pulled for Hansel Robles and Robles just made things worse, capping things off by essentially throwing Travis Shaw a Bugs Bunny fastball so Shaw could hit it out and cap off an 8-run nightmare that put the Mets to bed for the night.

Sunday was basically Saturday's game, just magnified and slower in developing. Michael Conforto hit everything in sight, Neil Walker and Rene Rivera hit some more and the Mets ran out to a 7-1 lead for Jacob deGrom, who looked OK, if less than economical. But the Brewers kept pushing the envelope and pushing the envelope, and 7-1 turned into 7-3, and then relievers were involved, and Jerry Blevins couldn't get anyone out, and Fernando Salas couldn't get anyone out, and guys like Keon Broxton and Jonathan Villar were hitting Home Runs, and there was this Jesus Aguilar again, and who the hell is Manny Pina and what the hell is he doing hitting a Home Run off of Addison Reed to finish off this debacle because it was 7-1 and now it's 11-9...

I usually can find the solution hiding somewhere behind the story and the problem right now is I can't find the solution. The Mets hit all weekend but couldn't outhit their pitching and I'm not sure what the hell happened. I know guys are hurt and/or inconsistent, but maybe this is just my old theory of The Stink coming back to bite the Mets in the ass again. It starts with the Mets not tacking on runs last Wednesday and creeps into a blown save, and then a Jeurys Familia injury, and then a Matt Harvey meltdown, and then Hansel Robles and that miserable puss on his face, and then the utter collapse on Sunday. Nobody that's pitching for the Mets right now seems to be inspiring any sort of confidence.I don't know.  Sometimes you just need to get a town out of your system and maybe it's just Milwaukee's year and they'll go to Arizona and the change of scenery will help. Or is that just me trying to convince myself it's something else and not The Stink.

No photos today. That's how much this weekend troubles me.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Curious Case

For obvious reasons, Matt Harvey's start on Friday night seemed to be bigger than the game itself. The game was important for the Mets—at this point I think they all are, particularly after the news of yet another major ailment affecting yet another key player—but perhaps more important for Harvey given everything that's gone on for him over the past week. I care less about the need for Harvey to repair his name in the public eye. That may be forever ruined just based on his actions, although I still believe all Mets fans want him to do well and as I've mentioned before, he owes fans nothing as far as the idea that he should succeed on their terms rather than his own. But that's the thing. He needs to figure out his own terms. I'm not certain he's done that yet. I, of course, want Harvey to do well so people will shut up, but I need to get over that idea because it probably won't ever happen.

The larger problem is, of course, that it feels less and less likely that it will ever happen just based on what we saw from him last night. While Harvey did manage to shuffle his way through five laborious innings, he was sent out for a 6th in a tie game and came totally undone, as the Brewers raked him for a pair of damaging Home Runs and never looked back on their way to beating the Mets 7-4.

The Brewers seem to be doing better than anyone expected and I'm not totally sure how, given that their roster seems to be comprised of youngsters and castaways that you haven't heard of and won't hear much of again after the end of the month when the Mets finish dealing with them for the season. Harvey was beaten early by a fellow named Jett Bandy, who I'm not entirely convinced wasn't around a few years ago under the assumed name of Jaff Decker, later by Hernan Perez, not to be confused with 16th Century Conquistador Hernan Cortes, and finished off by Bruce Bochte-like Eric Sogard and Orlando Arcia who is too young to be confused with someone else. The Mets didn't exactly back Harvey well, as Neil Walker was the only one who managed to solve Matt Garza and any other offense came after it was far too late.

So, sigh. Redemption did not come for Harvey tonight and really, in a string of really disastrous outings he didn't even seem to show any marked improvement. I still think that he has it in him to get it together and honestly I would like to think it's not simply blind faith and my hope that he'll magically revert to the fucking animal that almost singlehandedly saved the World Series two years ago will actually be rewarded. And it's not enough to say that he wants to do it because I know he wants to do it, he just needs to put the work in to make it happen.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Not Sorry

Wednesday afternoon was one of those "working man's specials," and as such I didn't see any of the game, so I have to subject you to one of my "less informed" summaries.

It was good until it sucked.

That seems about the best way to sum this game up. The Mets had a perfectly good opportunity to steal a win with their Plan H starter Tommy Milone, sweep the Giants and hop over the .500 mark. They slogged their way through against Matt Cain, got a Home Run from Jay Bruce, an RBI single from Milone himself, and a 3-2 lead was handed to Jeurys Familia in the 9th.

Now, of course, I only know what transpired from there on Gamecast, so I don't know just how egregious Wilmer Flores' tide-turning error actually was. But it fucked everything up good and proper. Still, Familia ought to have been game enough to get out of this. We've seen him do it before. Then again, we've seen him come completely unglued against this opponent as well. Instead of getting another ground ball, he gave up a hit to Hunter Pence to tie the game, because, well, Hunter Pence was genetically engineered to get a hit in that spot, and then he gave up a 3 run double to Christian Arroyo to torch the whole thing. Flores then, of course, came within mere feet of atoning for his sins in the bottom of the inning but it was a day late and a bounce short and instead of a sweep, the Mets fell 6-5 and now go on the road once again a game under .500.

These do happen sometimes, irritating as it may be. If the Mets weren't so undermanned right now maybe they wouldn't have been in this situation in the first place but such are the vicissitudes of Baseball. It's still irksome. I'm not sorry I missed it.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

More Relevant Action

I was back at Citi Field last night to see the Mets move on from the gobble gobble turkey that is the Matt Harvey saga and cruise—cruiseto an easy 6-1 victory over the Giants on the strength of a wonderful outing by onetime Harvey undercard Zack Wheeler.

It seems rather odd that here, on May 9th, I was attending only my 4th game of this season. April seems to have been a bit of a blur and in my whisened age I've decided against going to games in April simply for the sake of going to games and ultimately freezing my ass off in hopeless situations. It wasn't exactly warm out at Citi Field for May 9th regardless. But at least the Mets won the game and got me back on in the win column. It was also the second time this season I'd been to a Zack Wheeler start, which of course means I have now seen him as many times this season as Julio Teheran.

But at any rate, I was slightly on the late side in arriving, which can happen on these Tuesday nights, and so I was on line getting food while Wheeler was carving up the top of the Giants batting order in the 1st. The Giants still have these names in their lineup that can cause some irritation (that means you, Hunter Pence), but for the most part they've played rather poorly and haven't been helped by a rash of injuries of their own. So it's not just us if that makes you feel better. Wheeler struck out the aforementioned Pence, as well as Horshoe Dunkley in the 1st, but that seemed to be a mirage; those two early Ks represented half of his ultimate total for the night. The remainder of his evening wasn't necessarily a thing of beauty, but it accomplished what it needed to. Though he still threw too many pitches too early in the game, Wheeler managed to make it through 6 very solid innings, allowing the Giants a Buster Posey Home Run, a single by opposing Pitcher Jeff Samardzija, and not much else as he picked up a well-earned win in what was probably as good a game as he's pitched this season to date.

Wheeler was helped, of course, by the fact that the Mets attacked Samardzija early and often, to the point where they'd ran out to a 4-0 lead before I'd even finished eating. Neil Walker drove in the first two runs with what was charitably scored a triple after Eduardo Nunez (duh yankee prospect) butchered a sinking line drive, and later Jose Reyes and Rene Rivera drove home runs of their own. In the second, the Mets continued their onslaught when Michael Conforto and T.J. Rivera hit back-to-back doubles to extend the lead. Rivera, who's been hitting basically everything in sight of late, had 3 hits by the 4th inning. Conforto capped off his night with a long Home Run in the 7th, and the game basically sailed home from there, on a night when for whatever reason Terry Collins managed a 5-run lead as though it were a 1-run lead and burned through Jerry Blevins, Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia in the 8th and 9th innings.

The win, of course, brings the Mets back to .500, which doesn't seem like much but, again, when half the team is injured, including the two players considered to be most critical to the team's success, and when they've been written off as tired and old and skidding back to irrelevance, it's sort of a leaping off point. You can write the Mets off all you want, and continue to kick them, but as some point you need to own up to the fact that you're kicking a team that's won 8 of their last 11 playing 2nd and 3rd string guys after most of the same group roared back from the dead to run into the Wildcard game last year. So, again, I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the team just yet. Even if they appear to be a total shit show off the field.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Mets Are Falling! The Mets Are Falling!

I didn't actually see any of Monday night's game against the Giants. A work engagement had me preoccupied as things do from time to time. But, you know, after an entire day of being subjected to some of the most venomous, gloom and doom stories about Matt Harvey and the demise of the supposedly-but-never-actually-mighty Mets, I suppose most Mets fans couldn't be blamed at all if they'd decided to start showing up to Citi Field with paper bags on their heads or simply lock themselves in a closet with the lights off for the next five years. That's basically what everyone would have you believe. On a team with no leadership, no direction and an atmosphere where the inmates are running the asylum. 25 guys, 25 cabs. And yet another instance of Mets fans being sold a bill of goods and being left holding their cocks while talent and opportunity passes them by and the other team steals their thunder.

So, I mean, why even pay attention, right? If they're just going to annoy me and break my heart again...Oh. Wait. You mean they came from behind twice on Monday night, Jacob deGrom struck out 11 batters and the Mets won the game on a Neil Walker hit in the bottom of the 9th?

Someone, somewhere dropped a "That's why they play the games" last week on the Mets to prove that they were overrated. I think another "That's why they play the games" could be used now to prove that you can't count the Mets out, no matter how terrible things may seem.


Monday, May 8, 2017

Double Disaster

You know when you wake up, look at your phone and see an ESPN alert that reads "New York Mets P Matt Harvey suspended three games without pay for violating team rules" that it's going to be a great day.

In what shook out as yet another ugly chapter in the checkered career of Matt Harvey, the embattled pitcher was suspended on the day he was supposed to take the mound against the Marlins. Of course, in the Mets' typically macabre fashion, it was reported as reasons that were "going to be kept internal," and when you leave things like this up to the imaginations of the press and the public, well, everything kind of went haywire from there. Reports of reasons for this were typically ridiculous and thoughts of the obvious cause—what was that dildo doing in Kevin Plawecki's locker anyway???—were eventually quashed when it was reported that Harvey no-showed Saturday's game.

Sigh. I try to give Harvey the benefit of the doubt but then he does things like this and I wonder why I waste my energy.

At any rate, not only did he screw himself, he screwed his team, since instead of throwing him at the Marlins on Sunday, we were subjected to poor Adam Wilk, who ostensibly was the closest thing to a warm body the Mets had available to pitch a game. And, you know, when the best guy you can throw out on the mound is a guy who maybe 10% of your fan base has heard of...Needless to say, it didn't go well.

Wilk's afternoon could rather simply be summed up as he was screwed the moment Giancarlo Stanton stepped in the batter's box. In the first inning, he hit a Home Run off the facing of the 2nd deck in Left Field. In the 3rd, he hit one even farther. By the 4th, the game was completely out of hand and Wilk was done for the day, and one can assume into the Met annals next to such names as Chan Ho Park and Brett Hinchcliffe. Therest of the team, which was probably suffering from shellshock stemming either from the Harvey news, or Wilk's performance, or both, barely made a peep against Jose Urena and the end result was that they mustered one hit in a thoroughly embarrassing 7-0 loss.

And, you know, it's "now what?" time again. The Mets now sit at 14-16, which considering the state of the team health-wise isn't awful, but if you believe what you read about the Mets, the bloom is off the rose and the team is spiraling out of control towards a 90-loss season and a return to obscurity. I don't know. Right now, all I know is that that's their record and now they're finally going to play some games against teams outside their division and eventually, the truth will come out. About everything.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Small Big Ball

The Mets continued their recent trend of great offense/lousy pitching again on Saturday, as they jumped on Odrisamer Despaigne early and often to the tune of a 5-run 1st inning, then survived another shaky outing from Robert Gsellman and another injury, this time to Asdrubal Cabrera, and eventually turned things back on late against the Marlins bullpen to come away with another win, this one by an 11-3 score, which gives the Mets 6 wins in their last 8 games and 3 series wins in a row.

As usual, it is the little things that add up.

Not that it matters much to the press, who seems more interested in cracking on the Mets than actually reporting on what happens in the games, but the Marlins were the victims of some stupid in this game. Their scheduled starter, Wei Yin Chen, went on the DL on Friday with the mythical "tired arm," for those who think that sort of thing only happens to the Mets one month into the season. The replacement, Despaigne, who famously no-hit the Mets into the 8th inning that one time, was a minor irritant, as the Mets hammered him early and often and led 5-0 after 1 inning. The Marlins played like you'd expect them to, as they kicked the ball around plenty, starting off with Nickleback mishandling a hot shot from Michael Conforto that started the rally. Later, balls continued to clank off gloves and fly balls were bungled as the Mets tacked on more runs late in the game. Once again, they did so without the virtue of a Home Run; most of these runs scored because the Mets were working counts and hitting singles and doubles and just moving the line along. Conforto alone had 2 RBIs without the virtue of a hit as he walked three times, twice with the bases loaded, the latter time coming after a brilliant AB where he fell behind 0-2 and managed to check his swing three times to work out the walk. But the point is, if you just hit singles and doubles and bunch them all together, you'll accomplish the job just as well as if you sat back and waited for Cespedes to hit the 3-run HR.

Gsellman was effective, if not especially good, in his 5 innings. It seems to be more an issue of location and execution rather than stuff, that's preventing him from pitching as solidly as he did down the stretch last year. I can't quite figure it out just yet. With a full complement of pitchers, he might be on thinner ice but as the numbers have dwindled, there's not many other passable options. Certainly not if Montero continues to make an ass of himself whenever he gets an opportunity.

So it becomes the offense that has to shoulder the load, and they've done so as they scored 5 or more runs for the 9th game in a row, which is a far cry from the days when they were hard pressed to score 5 runs in a week. Then again, this could just as easily flip so we should just enjoy it while it lasts.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Wrong Decision

I had tickets to Friday night's game at Citi Field. It was on my plan. I'd made plans to go with my other half, which would be her first game of the season. But several mitigating circumstances intervened. The first was the horrendous and torrential rain that fell in New York basically all day on Friday. Generally, even when it rains like this, the Mets will keep the game scheduled until the last minute for a variety of reasons, among them the potential for the mythical "window," and the desire to get the gates open and get some people in the stadium to buy food and whatnot—a favorite trick of Ratso Wilpon's.

The other circumstance was, well, I'm getting older and after what had turned into a particularly strenuous week at work, I was tired. I was tired and I wouldn't have minded at all if they cancelled the game and allowed me to go home and take a nap. But that rainout alert never came, in spite of multiple alerts from the Emergency Alert system and reports of flash floods all over the city. 5:00 passed, and in fact 6:00 approached and my other half begged out, meaning that if I were going to go, I was on my own. Had we thought about it ahead of time, I might have swapped the tickets out altogether. 6:00 passed and I was delayed at work outright, so if I were going to go, I'd be late. But I left and got on my way, feeling very indecisive.

I got as far as the 7 train platform at Grand Central, a point at which I could take one train and go to the game, or get on the other train and go home. I weighed the options. The potential for rain still existed. But I did want to go to a game. But Rafael Montero was starting for the Mets, which generally has been a losing proposition. But what if this was the night he got it together? But I'm tired. But it's Friday. Eventually, I decided to just go home and swap the tickets out for another date. It was already the 2nd inning by time I got home, which probably would have been about the same time I would have arrived at Citi Field.

Immediately, I got in bed and took a nap. By time I woke up, it was somewhere in the 6th inning and I wasn't particularly surprised to hear that Montero was awful and the Mets were losing 7-3. I felt better because I wasn't there to see it, to say nothing of having to suffer the indignity of sitting through a beating at the hands of the Mickey Mouse Marlins.

But then the Mets came back in the 7th, another rally where they just kept hitting singles and doubles, and working counts, and forcing walks. Wilmer Flores was heavily involved, as was Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael Conforto. It was 7-5 when T.J. Rivera, who'd earlier homered, hit a 2-run double to tie the game off of Brad Ziegler, who seemed to not know what had hit him. A pitching change, 2 outs and an intentional walk later, it appeared the game would remain tied, but Kyle Barraclough, after intentionally walking Granderson, couldn't find the plate against Flores and unintentionally walked him to force in the lead run and put the Mets ahead 8-7. A couple of quiet innings from Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia later, the Mets had pulled off a real nut-kicker of a win against the Marlins, coming back from a 6-run deficit to win, 8-7.

Well, shit. I guess I should have gone after all. Even though it clearly had begun raining again by the end of the game and some time later in the evening, probably about when I would have arrived home, it really started pouring. I did feel badly about not going since they won. That, I suppose, isn't surprising. Had the game held and the Mets gone down in flames, I probably would have been thrilled that I wasn't there to subject myself to it. It's rare that this happens (I am reminded of a Daisuke Matsuzaka game a few years ago I skipped and ended up missing a 3 hour, 50 minute game that the Mets lost terribly) but sometimes you make the wrong choice. That's a bad job by me.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Tiny Ballparks

The Mets scored 16 runs last night in order to bail out Jacob deGrom, who struggled to make his way through 5 innings against the Atlanta Braves. If that isn't indication that this season has gone completely haywire, well, I'm not sure what you need to see.

This new stadium in Atlanta, SunTrust ChopHouse or whatever they choose to call it, doesn't look terribly dis-similar to Citi Field if you were just watching a game on TV. It's got that "Brickyard" wall behind home plate, typical of these new parks, with some whimsical touches out beyond the outfield wall, some quirks like a low Outfield fence and what have you. But the similarities seem to end there. Where Citi Field looks large and plays large, SunTrust is clearly the exact opposite. In April, fly balls in Citi Field that look good off the bat end up getting swallowed in by the Outfield, and even moving the fences in twice hasn't changed things. In SunTrust, baseballs seem to fly out with regularity, and even line drives seem to fly. What's going to happen in the Summer? This will be the latest Steroid Field, right up there with Citizens Bank Park, Great American Ballpark and that other stadium I can't remember with the 200' Right Field line.

But so the Mets did manage to score 16 runs Wednesday, striking early and often against our old friend Bartolo Colon, who had a hard time getting through 4 innings. We know that Bartolo is susceptible to these "Fat and sweaty" games every so often and the Mets happen to be the beneficiary of one of these games. They weren't hitting the ball out of the ballpark but, of course, there are many ways to score runs and the Mets seem to have remembered this, banging out 20 hits in order to plate all those runs. And everyone seemed to chip in, Jose Reyes continued to slowly emerge from his April cave and drove in 5 runs, Rene Rivera drove in 3, Michael Conforto was in the middle of things and even Jacob deGrom had 2 hits. Which was fortunate because he wasn't especially sharp on the mound.

deGrom has now had 2 outings in his last 3 where he's kind of fizzled out and given up too many walks, or lost his point or whatever, which is kind of worrisome looking at the big picture and the fact that this Mets rotation isn't at all resembling what they were supposed to be right now. And, yes, that means that people are writing snarky articles and making snide comments because they have nothing better to do than crack on the Mets. But, as seasons go, players and staffs run hot and cold and I'd expect deGrom will even himself out. Just like I wouldn't expect the Mets offense to run up 16 runs on a regular basis. Really, it's the resiliency more than anything else that soothes the worry. The Mets have shown previously that they can be down but not out. A couple of wins in Washington, a couple of wins in Atlanta with a chance for more, and go from there.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

I Don't Like This Place That Much...

OK, OK. On the second night Atlanta turned back into Atlanta and nothing went right for the Mets.

After being spotted a 2-0 lead thanks to a Jay Bruce Home Run, Matt Harvey handed the lead back to the Braves almost immediately, and then just kind of slogged through the remainder of his outing as the Braves ostensibly waterboarded him to death with a series of singles and doubles, inching ahead and eventually out of reach and only a Pig-Lipstick Grand Slam from Bruce in the 9th made the final score a more respectable-looking 9-7 as opposed to the 9-3 mess this game really should be remembered as.

This was one of those games that I kind of kept tuning in and out of. I was late tuning in altogether, in spite of the fact that most Atlanta games start at 7:35 instead of the more customary 7:10, so if nothing else it was only the 2nd inning when I put the game on, but irregardless it was pushing 8:30, which wasn't a good sign. At that point it was already 2-2 and Atlanta went ahead 3-2 when Ender Inciarte injected himself into the proceedings and made a pain in the ass of himself, which is generally what he does against the Mets. Asdrubal Cabrera re-tied the game in the 3rd with a Home Run that was really tagged, but then in the 4th Harvey kind of melted down and the Braves just kept getting hits and scoring runs and by time the dust cleared it was well after 9pm, the Mets were behind 6-3 and everything was terrible. I couldn't even enjoy getting to see our dear old friend R.A. Dickey float that Knuckleball around like he used to.

Then, I turned the game off altogether, or, more appropriately, I was eating dinner with my other half and she asked that we watch something else. So I missed Josh Smoker/Fernando Salas turn the game into a tire fire in the 7th, but I guess that's just as well. But I was back in time to see Bruce hit a truly irrelevant Grand Slam in the 9th to serve no other purpose than pad his stats, force a pitching change and prolong the game for another 5 minutes.

I mean, yes, I know. The Mets weren't going to go Forever-and-0 at SunTrust Yards and that first loss was probably going to come at some point this week because the Mets just aren't doing that well. And I'm sure there will be days that this place will just rankle me to no end. But it's too early to tell whether it's as rancid as its predecessor, or some other similarly troublesome ballparks where nothing good ever happens to the Mets (see: Petco Park). Time will, I suppose, tell.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

I Like This Place!

The Mets played their first game in Suburban Atlanta's sparkling new SunTrust Park or SunTrust Field last night, a refreshing change after playing the past 20 years in a stadium that shall no longer be named, where they posted a record of 20-142 and suffered innumerable indignities. And after one batter in this new place, perhaps we saw signs that things would be different here. Michael Conforto led off the game with a Home Run, getting things off on the right foot, and spurred the Mets on to a 7-5 victory.

I like this new place already!

SunTrust Park or Field or Gulag or whatever they're calling it seems to be a fairly generic-looking "old new" ballpark, which is now what basically every stadium is nowadays. The other place wasn't especially memorable either, except for all the wrong reasons but that didn't even have a "retro" feel to it. I suspect, as time passes and these new stadiums eventually lose their shine, that the new retro will become the utilitarian, cookie-cutter stadiums of the 1960s, so maybe someday we'll get Shea Stadium and Fulton County Stadium back, but what the hell do I know.

The Mets scored early and often against Julio Teheran, which they could have done last week if they'd bothered to hit, since he was ripe for the taking, and on the other side, Robert Gsellman if nothing else didn't have the complete and total meltdown that he did last week and managed to get through 5 plus innings allowing 5 runs instead of giving them all up in the 1st inning, which was nice of him. In fact, it was actually good enough to net him a victory this time around.

Other good things happened too. Conforto supplemented his Home Run with a 2-run single in the 3rd inning. Jose Reyes, who has appeared to show some signs of consciousness lately, hit a Home Run late to give the Mets an insurance run. Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia finished out the game with some more cobweb-shaking performances or stabilizing performances as the case may be. Really, more than anything else, the Mets needed this victory just to heal everyone's psyche after the early-morning injury news regarding Noah Syndergaard. To say nothing of the fact that they needed to remind everyone that they were still a viable team after getting 23 runs hung on them on Sunday. What this will lead to, I'm not sure. It feels like a long road back to respectability at this point, but at least they didn't have to follow up Sunday's debacle with having to go to Atlanta Baseball Hell.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Total System Failure

It's just as well that the Mets dropped into full-on asshole mode yesterday as the Nationals blew their doors off by the score of 23-5. They'd already made asses of themselves by the 2nd inning when Noah Syndergaard left the game grimacing and grasping his armpit. You know, after he brazenly pronounced himself as "fine" and refused an MRI to see what exactly was bothering him after he was scratched twice last week.

I could go further into just how mind-numbing the stupidity is that permeates through this organization sometimes but really, why waste my time? The #LOLMets-ers and the "BACKMAN, BABY!" jackasses, the closeted Yankee castrati folks do a good enough job for me. I've gone over plenty of times just how tiresome these people have become, and how the Mets have been enough of a laughingstock over the years that maybe it's just time to leave it alone, but then something like this happens and I remember that in so many of these instances the Mets seem to invite this treatment on themselves. Their best pitcher wants to pitch, who can blame him? But he needs to remember that he's neither a doctor, nor is he invincible and maybe he ought to listen to the team trainers if they think he should have an MRI. Even if it means listening to Cortisone Shot Ramirez. Because rather than just nipping this in the bud, Syndergaard decided to be a hero, went out and immediately got lit up for 5 runs in the 1st inning after basically allowing 5 runs all season to that point, or something like that. So that right there ought to have told you something was up. Syndergaard just doesn't get torched like that out of the gate. I didn't even watch and I probably could have told you that he was screwing around with his mechanics to overcompensate for his ailing giblets. And then in the 2nd inning it all came crashing down as he threw one pitch too many and started grimacing and grabbing his armpit, and of course that sent every Mets fan off the ledge. Fortunately (SILVER LINING ALERT) this wasn't the absolute worst case scenario since the Big Boy Surgery is everyone's ultimate fear for him, but when you go out there and mess up your mechanics to mask an injury, this is what happens. You get hurt and now the Mets have to deal with the consequences since he's probably going to be out for a couple of months. To say nothing of the fact that he's getting destroyed in the court of public opinion in a manner to rival Matt Harvey.

After that the wheels basically came off, and again I think the Mets needed to have this happen because sometimes you just need to get completely and totally humiliated in order to wake up and acknowledge your problems. The Nationals have broken from the gate like a house afire and this just another feather in their cap, but teams with championship aspirations aren't supposed to get their asses handed to them like this and in reality, that it happened is just scenery. What's most crucial is how they respond to this. If getting lit on fire and losing your best pitcher and your best hitter in the span of 4 days sends the team into a tailspin, well, then they deserve to be laughed at. We all to. This is supposed to be a Championship-caliber team and if they crumble after 4 weeks of the season then I guess we all fell for the bill of goods again and this is just another season where we end up with our dicks in our hands. I'm kind of sick of it. Learn from this and work forward. It's happened before with this group, believe it or not.