Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Things In Rear View Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

Game 138 - Mets

Braves 3, Mets 1
Record: 70-68

In 138 games so far this season, I've seen few quite so start-to-finish excruciating as this one. In your handy-dandy MLC glossary, the definition of "winnable loss" reads, "See Game 138, Mets at Braves. That winnable loss took my ulcer from the size of a penny to the size of Penny Marshall."

The Mets were sneaky-terrible during this contest. A box score won't necessarily give away the awfulness of how they executed -- or rather how they failed to execute. Rotten eggs sometimes look fine from a safe distance, and this certainly was one of those. Observe:

1. The Braves scored their first run on what should've, could've, and would've been an inning ending 6-4-3 double play, had not Kaz Matsui bobbled the transfer and held the ball. Just when you thought you'd never come around on Miguel Cairo again.

2. Doug Mientkiewicz got robbed of a home run when it bounced off the top of the wall and came back into play. Bad luck. But it was a leadoff double. Then Ramon Castro didn't even try to take the ball the other way, failed to advance him, and Minky was later stranded at third. Bad baseball.

3. Matsui tripled with one out. Two batters later, Clifford Floyd defied his statistical history and managed to ground into a double play to squander yet another opportunity.

4. Rafael Furcal reached on a swinging bunt; Castro left his crouch like an obese octogenarian on a pair of reconstructed knees who just woke up from a nap. Furcal is quick as all get-out, but anything remotely cat-like from the catcher's spot gets him. Hell, Cat Stevens gets him. Naturally, Furcal ended up scoring on a sac fly; the Braves manufacture runs against the league’s best pitchers, while the Mets rack up extra-base hits with fewer than two outs and scheme, plot, and connive ways to somehow keep them from scoring.

5. The Mets “scratched across” exactly one run after having runners on second and third with one out. Holy hell. This team couldn’t manufacture mud with a bucket of dirt and a bucket of water.

6. The Braves scored a run from second base on a dribbler to the mound. I don’t even know what to say about that. There wasn't even an error, unless you consider the fundamental, elementary, Fielding 101 mental error that Pedro and his band of muted infield gnomes committed.

7. The Mets notched another pinch-hit when Jose Offerman singled for the departing Pedro. Then Jose Reyes grounded into an inning-ending double play. The chances of he and Floyd doing it in one game are slightly worse than one team winning its division 14 straight times.

8. New York tallied 13 total bases and scored one run on a groundout. You have to really try to accomplish something like that.

9. They caught John Smoltz on a less-than-stellar night, and they did nothing about it. It's like the time Rob's girlfriend told him she wanted a hot 3-way, so he brought her back a melted three-cheese sandwich. Regrets . . . they're not just for clinic waiting rooms any more.

10. If you've done your math, that's three preventable Atlanta runs, so even if the Mets hadn't played any better than their "squanderlust" style of offense, they could have managed a victory. They did enough to win, yet they never really even threatened to take this one.

About the saddest thing you could say about the way the New York Mets played tonight was that if you played this game and any of the four Chicago losses in the 1919 World Series back-to-back, you'd be hard-pressed not think this game was the one where a team was tanking it. It's all starting to slip away; I guess I'm still pleased that it's September and not July or August that it's happening, but right now, "pleased" isn't something escaping from my lips too comfortably.

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