“Their season is over.”

“It’s not over.”

“What are you talking about?  They’re out of it.”

“They’re not out of it.”

“Paul, they’re out of it.”

“They haven’t been mathematically eliminated.”

“…Yes, that’s true…

deserted stands.jpg…they haven’t been mathematically eliminated.”

Whether due to the weather or the emptiness of the ball park or the fact that I rode home alone the whole way–7 train to N train to R train–I felt pretty damned surly all last night and into the wee hours today.  My usual Mets batterymate was also not in attendance.  So the balance was shifted towards Yankee fans, with his seat taken by the girlfriend of the third member of our usual party.

It’s either too early or I’m too disinterested in rehashing the thought to make that clear.  Suffice it to say I sat next to two people who could give a damn about the game, and so I felt like a third wheel most of the time.  I didn’t know one could spend $300 on six months’ worth of a fan experience and still feel like a third wheel.

Maybe I just needed a second set of ribs.

deserted shake shack.jpgI walked up to the Blue Smoke counter and ordered, and so was in and out of the center field concourse within two minutes.  This is dangerous; if Mets games are to be this poorly-attended from here on out, I’ll need to do my damnedest to fill up before the game and stick to the beer, which is considerably less expensive.  Speaking of:

t-shirts 01.jpgThat’s the one that just makes me look like a goob’.  THIS one:

t-shirts 02.jpgShould please The Wife no end.

“Please to note”: I don’t know any of their names.  I’m not even kidding.  I have no clue.  We’re all dressed alike; we all enjoy beer.  That’s all I need to know, really.

They have a Facebook page.  I don’t have a Facebook anything, so I can’t check this.

Last night’s game against the Marlins (L; 4-2) leaves five or six nails left for the coffin, depending on your perspective; either you nail the coffin in five and bury, or you seal the coffin with the sixth and burial is incidental.

What’s been running through my head, though, besides wild ideas of how the Mets can save themselves from a losing season (think their competition turning into reverse vampires that can’t play night games and thus have to forfeit), is some light calculus on just what kind of record makes, generally, a playoff-bound team.

Example of what I mean:

  • in one hundred sixty-two (162) games,
  • a team can alternate wins and losses for seventy-six (76) games,
  • earning them a record of 38-38,
  • then run off a ten-game winning streak,
  • earning them a record of 48-38,
  • then return to alternating wins and losses for seventy-six games,
  • coming out of the season with a record of 86-76.

The 2008 Mets had a ten-game winning streak and ended with a record of 89-73.  Look where that got them.

“Dominance,” at least of a division as currently woeful as the NL East, would be a record of 96-66.  Which would be like:

  • staring down the barrel of 162 games,
  • alternating wins and losses for 44 games (22-22),
  • breaking off a ten-game winning streak (32-22),
  • alternating again for 44 games (54-44),
  • managing another ten game winning streak (64-44),
  • alternating AGAIN for 44 games (86-66),
  • then wrapping up with a final ten-gamer (96-66).

My point with all this nonsense?  Baseball is MUCH harder than it looks. 

Take a ball most people can fit decently within the palm of their hand. 

Try and hit it with a wooden bat as it’s hurled at you really fast. 

Then, if you hit it, try and make it three hundred sixty feet back to where you started, without anyone taking that ball and tagging you with it, which is entirely possible unless you manage to whack that thing safely out of bounds, which, if you ask Angel Pagan after last night, must take something like nine offerings to Ba’al and a carton of smokes to whomever decides where the fences should be.

Now get nine guys together who can do this over the course of three hours, almost every day, for six months.

Make sure they don’t get hurt, or if they do, that you have someone good enough to replace them.

And do it well enough to win as much as you lose, except for those instances wherein you play a team so bad or so not on their game that you can manage to steal a few.  Have as many of those instances as you possibly can.

Do all this well enough to do it over again when it starts to get really cold, except with more scrutiny, increased pressure to perform, and absurdly late start times (because it’s SO important to cater to people who would gladly watch at 7p or are upset that you’re preempting their programming anyway).

And do this with the expectation that, win or lose, if you got this far you’d better come back better, faster, and stronger, else some numbskull–raising my hand here–will label you forever a bum, who has no business doing any of the above.

I’m not saying it’s not worth it; I’m not saying these guys don’t get paid to do just this job.  I’m just saying, like one stops to really notice a bed of tulips on the first warm afternoon or really appreciates sleeping in their bed after a long day of work or really gets how good a perfectly charred burger tastes, it’s REALLY hard.

And that Carlos Beltran worked hard to get back to this life, in the face of not-yet-mathematically-impossible odds…

beltran in the lineup.jpg…that earns some REAL appreciation from me.

Even if he did go 1-for-4 with a strikeout.

betran prepping.jpgbeltran timing.jpg

beltran citi at the plate.jpg
Pictures of David Wright’s hitlessness are unavailable, due to the author’s desire not to screw up this stiff-upper-lip thing he’s got going on.  Hell, I’ve even got a sarcastic shot of Brian Stokes’s winning “Pitcher Of The Month,” but I’m not even in the mood.

I’m in the mood to watch Josh Thole stalk away from the plate in slow-motion after tagging out Dan Uggla.  I could watch that plenty.

Speaking of Uggla: in front of us last night sat a couple who seemed fairly even-tempered, until it was learned that the duo’s better half was combining her rabid hatred of Dan Uggla (which I enjoyed and stoked) with surreptitiously scrap-booking a Mets Program Guide and furiously doodling on a green-and-black Marlins cap (which I guess was promotional).

Now, Dan Uggla’s crimes against the National League are the stuff of legend: three errors, three strikeouts and a ground-into-double-play during an All-Star Game that the NL could’ve won if he’d’ve gotten his head together.  But it was as if she’d left an evil spirit after her departure.  The air felt colder in that seat.

Or, to quote and summarize from my friends, who were closer to her: “Yo, that girl was bats*** CRAZY.”  Fair enough.

I’ve little else to say, so I’ll leave with this:

a new board.jpg…which is the Mets Out-Of-Town Scoreboard.  Usually there’s some ad on the far left.  Last time I was there, it was an ad for MLB Network.  However:

a new board enhanced.jpgI believe this is the last of the game-action screens to go up.  Either that, or they’re planning for the next time a team scores twenty runs and the general board is not up to the task.  Either way, if it’s to someone’s benefit, I’m for it.

Next game for me is September 18th; I may try and stick a visit to the Bronx somewhere between that and October 2nd, versus the Astros, but I’ve been trying like hell to get out to Chicago all year, and if it’s between the Miracle Mile and River Avenue, I’m picking the Miracle Mile.

Adios, adieu, and away.

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