Friday, June 06, 2003

Games 57 & 58 - Mets

Brewers 8, Mets 7
Brewers 5, Mets 3
Record: 26-32

"The only thing worse than a Mets game is a Mets doubleheader." Dammit, Casey was right. The Mets are now 0-4 in doubleheader games this season. Steve Trachsel and Tom Glavine (that'd be the 1-2 starters) took beatings, with Glavine leaving in the second with an elbow injury. The upside? The bullpen was very strong, allowing just one run on 8 hits over 13 innings. Ty Wigginton hit a homer in each game. And Tony Clark add another pinch-hit dinger in Game 1. (He sucked in Game 2, whiffing when it mattered and dropping his average to .196, but for Mr. Russell's reading pleasure, let's focus on his 7th HR this year.) But these games were frightening overall, mainly because it was the last-place Brewers. Up next: the white-hot Mariners, winners of nine straight (all on the road). Then the Mets go to Texas and Anaheim. Boy, they really needed this pair of games.

Speaking of the Mariners, I was able to watch them overtake the Phils last night in the top of the ninth on a Mike Cameron tater. Exciting game; too bad it was ruined by a moronic fan. Down a run, the Phillies started the ninth with a single followed by a double down the first baseline. The double would have caromed off the stands and definitely would have scored the runner to tie the game. Instead, some bozo reached down and grabbed the ball, sending the runner back to third on the ground rule double for fan interference. The Phillies did not end up scoring, and the game ended with another loss. This bothered me for a few reasons. First, it reinforces the by-now obvious fact that most fans are ignorant buffoons. As Bill Veeck once said, "A fan's knowledge of the game is inversely proportional to the price of his ticket.'' And the nimrods in the box seats who lean over to grab a live ball that would have propelled the home team into a tie instead of a loss should be punished with more than an ejection. I think they should be suited up with catcher's equipment and be forced to catch an incoming ball while Jim Thome barrels through them to the plate. Something of that variety. I had just gotten done hollering at the Pittsburgh fans (via the TV -- can they hear me like that?) for getting up to leave en masse with two outs in the top of the 9th . . . with the tying run at the plate. Are the four minutes of traffic you're going to beat by leaving a batter early really going to justify (a) the potential you face of missing a dramatic ending, (b) possibly affecting the pitcher when he cannot help but see the entire behind-the-plate box file out hurriedly as he readies for the final out, (c) being outed as one of those pseudo-sportsfan sissies who paid a lot of money and took the time to come to the ballpark but won't stay for the entire game?

Anyway, then I saw the Phillies debacle and it boggled my mind. Watching all of these games, it has reinforced that while baseball is an epic, 162-game season, it still comes down to the tiniest of crossroads in games that make the ultimate difference, and the little things here and there that cost you ballgames along the way can keep you from postseason glory. A bad call on a 3-1 pitch keeps a runner off base; he eventually strikes out and the inning is slightly altered. A bang-bang play at first is called the wrong way, and an insurance run scores; as it turns out, it was a huge run. A fan reaches down and grabs a live ball; a run is taken off the board, and the game is subsequently lost. These are the little events glossed over in the daily pages, but what drive players, managers, and fans insane. If you lose just one game a month, just one out of every 27 contests by one of these common, stupid, seemingly minor mistakes not even your own, that's six games a year. And this is the six-game lead the lucky, timely, and yes, good teams have over the unfortunate, damned, and not quite as good teams come late September.

What irks me even more about the Philadelphia incident is how little press that fan got. Oh, he goofed up, he got booted, end of story. When Sammy Sosa's broken bat has gotten as much worldwide press as terrorist activities the past few days, you'd think that perhaps this would get blown up, too. This story actually cost a team a game, which is supposed to be the bottom line. Meanwhile, the Sosa story is basically all hype and an open invitation for archival factories like to compile lists, create polls, and unearth ancient yarns about bat-corkers. How about a front-pager called "Don't Be a Fucking Idiot When You Go to a Ballgame"?

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