The first drops of rain have fallen on the Mets’ 2012 season, in the form of a cracked pinky. The pinky has started to make parts of the fan base panicky already, including your intrepid columnist. Exposure has come quickly and the rainbows and daffodils we saw in the opening sweep of the Braves and the first game vs. the Nats have been washed away to reveal the weeds sprouting in the background. The era of goodwill has proven cruelly short-lived. Yes, I know I sound like the typical whiney, woe-is-us Met fan. I don’t care.
During that happy, thrilling victory over the Nats on Monday, David Wright dove back to first on a pickoff attempt, after delivering an RBI single in the third inning. His swing looked awkward, striking out in his next at-bat. He was intentionally walked in his final turn. It only came out a couple of hours before game time on Tuesday that Wright would miss the game. It was also announced that he would sit out the next day’s afternoon affair as well. This only made sense, seeing as the Mets would be going up against the modern-day Walter Johnson, super-phenom Stephen Strasburg. I heard this on my way home from work. This time, Mike Francesa — smarting a bit that the Mets had gone 4-0 while his beloved Yankees could only manage to go 1-3 out of the blocks — could not conceal the glee in his voice as he sing-songed, “Well, there’s the first cloud to cover the sunshine of the Mets’ good start.” Loathe as I am to agree with him…
The two games without Wright in the lineup have been almost painful to watch. On Tuesday night, the game fell apart an instant after it was announced that Wright’s pinky wasn’t merely jammed, but fractured somewhere in the environs of the middle knuckle. That would explain the cockeyed swing on Monday night, anyway. The wind left the team’s sails immediately, almost as if the collective forgot how to hit, run or field all at once in the absence of their spiritual – if not exactly vocal –leader. Suddenly, Daniel Murphy couldn’t corral the kind of ball he’d hoovered up the night before and got the yips when called upon to turn two. Suddenly, Dillon Gee’s command deserted him. Suddenly, the bullpen – so staunch the first four games – turned to pudding. A game-long 0-1 deficit was 1-5 by the end of the seventh inning. The team had been most definitely de-starched. The funk continued on Wednesday afternoon, a desultory 4-0 non-contest, such that all you need to know is this: Mets’ pitchers surrendered 10 walks, while Mets’ batters – I hesitate to call them “hitters” – struck out 15 times.
If there’s any more evidence needed that David Wright is the lynchpin to this offense, I have no idea where you’d find it. Wright on the shelf, with Ike Davis (surprisingly), Lucas Duda (learning) and Jason Bay (of course!) ineffective renders this offense so impotent that no little blue pill would ever be able to revive it. The “attack” resembles nothing so much as that grand New York institution, the bagel. If David Wright can’t get himself back into the lineup quickly, 2012 will become stale and moldy in a big hurry.