I went to my first game of 2012 last Friday (4/20). Dinner at McFadden’s with my wife & my cousin & his wife beforehand, meeting up with my friend Greg Prince during and a surprisingly – and dispiritingly – quick exit after. It was a great night and a very good game, despite the final outcome. But for one bad inning, Jonathon Neise was stellar. The Mets got some unexpected power and clutch fielding from Jason Bay and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and had an exciting game-tying rally in the ninth. Unfortunately, the Giants put on an exciting rally of their own in the tenth and came away with a 4-3 win. That’s baseball, right?
Next day, a game which featured stout pitching – from Mike Pelfrey, of all people! — turned into a sloth in the bottom of the eighth. Baserunning accidents, leather hiccups and clipped heels were the order of the last inning-and-a-half on Saturday. The Mets won. That’s baseball, right?
The 2012 Mets seem to be more “baseball” than most teams. These guys can go from crisp professionalism to abject slapstick on the turn of a dime. It’s not even a matter of “what-a-difference-a-day-makes.” The Mets teeter on the edge from play to play. A prime example is the very top of the very first inning of game one yesterday (4/23). With one out, Miguel Batista walked Melky Cabrera. On the 2-2 pitch to Pablo Sandoval, Cabrera stole second. Sandoval then singled, chasing home Melky. However, Lucas Duda made a terrific peg to Ruben Tejada to nail Sandoval trying to stretch it to extra bases.
There it is, side-by-side on the plate. It is in the nature of a team as young as this to drive you mad, if you’re a fan. Inconsistency is thy name. It’s a little bit like watching a colt get his legs under him, and you can’t really tell yet whether this group will collectively turn into Secretariat or a glue factory candidate. It doesn’t help that some key pieces being counted on – Duda, Bay, Ike Davis – have fallen flat in the first go ‘round. They’ve been picked up somewhat by the hot starts of Nieuwenhuis, David Wright and Daniel Murphy, but the fans can’t help but fantasize about when all the parts are running in sync. Unfortunately, that happens so rarely that sonnets are written about seasons when it does – ’98 Yankees, ’86 Mets, ’76 Reds, etc. These Mets are nowhere near that company. With limited resources and a complete lack of depth, games become cared for and fussed over like china dolls. When it doesn’t work, it can drive fans to distraction. The upshot, though, is that the blossom in the cheeks that was 7-3 has turned into the chalky pallor of 8-8.
Nothing to do, but keep walking that line.
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