You can say it’s just one game. And you’re right. You can say it’s just the fourth game of the season. And, once again, you’re not wrong. But when the Mets drop a 1-0 game to the Island of Misfit Toys, well, that’s not something I’m necessarily OK with.
The baseball season is long and arduous and over the course of it, you will have bad losses and “character” wins, but – in a year when you are a legitimate contender coming into a season for the first time in a decade – you cannot waste a six-inning, one run performance from an aging innings-eater and watch your lineup go silently into the night against Vince Velasquez and a quartet of Philadelphia relievers who recorded 12 strikeouts against the defending National League champions.
Bartolo Colon started for the Mets and was terrific giving up just one run over six innings while striking out seven, but got zero support from his lineup who managed just three hits in the game. His one miscue ended up in the Left Field Landing as Ryan Howard took him deep in the 5th, but that performance should have been enough to absolutely tap dance on the grave of a Phillies team that has already been buried in the 2016 season.
Yoenis Cespedes and Lucas Duda each recorded a hat trick of strikeouts and were backed up by equally bad at bats from pretty much everybody else. In the 8th inning, Asdrubal Cabrera, Cespedes and Duda all worked their counts to 3-0, 3-1 and 3-1 respectfully and none of them were able to reach base against David Hernandez, the owner of an ERA of 10.13 AFTER his scoreless frame.
The prevailing wisdom of the baseball season is never to let your emotion trend too high or too low. That is smart and that is wise when you think about just how long and exhausting emotional high and lows can be over a span of 162 games in 180 or so days.
The Mets had a lot of fun in spring training. There were cars and horses and it was great. I encourage that. I like to have fun at work too. And when Terry Collins said they were getting their work in, I trusted that. I still believe it.
For the first time in god knows how long, there was no overriding controversy. No malcontent player, no front office shaming. The focus was on a team that had made a surprising run to the World Series and that they were ready to get back and finish the job this time.
They bumbled through an uninspiring spring which was – for the most part – ignored because they games don’t count and guys were just getting prepared for the chance to defend their NL crown. But that lethargy has carried over from the embracing warmth of Port St. Lucie to trembling chills of Queens.
It may be just one game in the opening week, but it’s one game I don’t want to be talking about in September. The National League is top-heavy with that Nationals, Cardinals, Pirates, Cubs, Dodgers and Giants all expected to be in the mix for playoff spots. All have plenty of games against teams that are blatantly tanki…I’m sorry…”rebuilding” that will pad the win totals of the legitimate contenders and presumably lead to a lot of congestion at the top of the leaderboards come the conclusion of the regular season. One game has been in the past and could be again the difference between going home and meaningful October baseball. I just hope we’re not discussing listless April performance against an inept Phillies team then.
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