Friday, June 24, 2005

Return of the Prosaic Prose

Games 67 through 72 - Mets

Mariners 5, Mets 0
Mariners 4, Mets 1
Mariners 11, Mets 5
Mets 8, Phillies 5
Phillies 8, Mets 4
Mets 4, Phillies 3
Record: 35-37

Rob and I probably shouldn't take vacations together like that -- this site might wither away to nothing. Somebody's got to stick around to comment on the good, the bad, and horrendous as it pertains to the Mets and Red Sox. Thanks go out to The Wheelhouse's Jerry and Gheorghe's TJ for semi-standing in; I can already see them forming their Leno/Letterman battlestations to fight each other for the MLC post when I retire and fade into obscurity.

A couple of trends extended themselves while we relaxed in the sun, i.e., chased our children around, got thrashed by mammoth waves, and drank beer as if our very lives depended on it. The Red Sox kept winning, for one. They've won nine of ten, and while my fortunate friend can elaborate on what this means for Boston's title defense, I only know that in the Case Bet, the Mets have gone from a ½-game to 6 ½ games behind the Red Hot Sox in two weeks. This bodes ill. Violently ill. The kind of ill a certain R. Russell of Virginia illustrated for parking lot wanderers a few weeks ago at the end of his boozy birthday celebration.

The other pattern that received continuation over my time away was the one where if I pay no attention, the Mets lose, and if I tune in attentively, they win. I've spent too many keystrokes already this season discussing the notion, but it just keeps happening. I went away, and the Mets replaced their equipment with balsa bats for their hitters and lacrosse balls for their pitchers. They were swept by the Mariners. For effect, I'll repeat: They were swept by the Mariners. This feat alone puts them into exclusive company; only the Kansas City Royals, a more obvious candidate for contraction than antidisestablishmentarianism, have managed to drop three straight to the M's like the Mets did. The new Big Three of the AL West -- Jamie Moyer, Ryan Franklin, and Gil Meche -- shut the Mets down. And throughout this wretched series, I saw nary an inning and almost no highlights. (The powers that be at ESPN have oddly opted not to profile bad games between last-place teams at the start of the hour.)

I didn't get to catch much of this Phils' series until yesterday's win. Now that I'm back in the New York Mets groove (Ace Frehley is rolling over in the mausoleum he sleeps in), I once again watch with the confidence that if I'm actively aboard the Metwagon, they stand a better-than-good chance of pulling it out. (Not to be confused with the better-than-good chance of Steve Phillips pulling it out at a company function.) Sure, part of me was anxiously waiting for the inevitable inning where Kaz Ishii would walk the bases full, even as he was polishing off one of his best performances of the year. Sure, I was dreading Doug Mient-K-wicz with the stick even after he homered yet again in the Citizens Bank wiffle yard. Sure, I was just certain Carlos "119 million dollars, 1 million All-Star votes, 8 home runs, 1 stolen base" Beltran would ground into a double play to kill a rally, even as he was doing exactly that. But I also had as much faith in the Mets' ability to claw their way to a fairly key win.

It was key only in that it saved them from another series loss and a general deepening of their nosedive out of contention. By taking two of three from the Phightin's, the Mets gave themselves a shred of confidence heading into Yankee Stadium this weekend. Of course, that shred may be decimated by the agitated Bombers, who find themselves just two games better than the lowly Mets after losing their seventh game in ten tries against the Devil Rays. (Tampa is 19-44 against the rest of the league, 7-3 against the Yanks. Love that.)

The Yankees seem to get periodically pissed off that they're losing to substantially lesser teams, snap out of their funk, and play like a $205M team for a noticeable stretch, then come unraveled against the weakest of opponents like Kansas City and Milwaukee. The 2005 New York Mets, currently stooped over at 35-37, must qualify as one of those weak opponents, whether they (or anyone in the Township) would want to admit it or not. Teams handcuffed by Joe Blanton, Ryan Franklin, and every struggling, two-pitch youngster on every crap club in the league are not usually a threat to post a host of crooked numbers against the likes of Moose and the Big Eunuch, not to mention the struggling, two-pitch youngster who throws Saturday for the Yankees. The Mets counter with Pedro, Glavine, and Benson, but the outcome of the series depends predominantly and simply on which Yankee team shows up -- the well-oiled machine that went on a 15-2 tear through the dregs (A's, M's, Tigers, Mets) and is 10-5 against National Leaguers, or the old, tired, achy, fat, contented but confused bunch of Shriners wheeling around the infield in their tiny Rolls-Royces and finding a way to lose to any team at any time. (By the way, that latter squad is my second favorite team in baseball to watch.)

The good news for the Mets -- aside from the developments of releasing Mike "My Career Is In" DeJean and DL-ing Kaz Doormatsui -- is that my two months of gallivanting about the nation with reckless abandon (where watching Mets games is concerned) have come to a close. I'm stuck here with little to do for the next six weeks except watch the Mets put the pieces together and make the surge back into divisional relevance. Hey, if the phriggin' Phillies can do just that, the Mets certainly can. And with Lucky Lester logging hours in Extra Innings, blogging ad nauseum and willing the lads to victory, you should find the ensuing turn-around neither surprising nor accidental. As The Undertones crooned so many years ago, "It's going to happen."*

[*1981 New Wave reference added for the benefit of Mike at East Coast Agony.]

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