A Sweep Of Reassuring Mediocrity

What do you get when you combine a fireballing pitcher, solid relief, a young slugger, a hit with runners in scoring position, and defense that was unspectacular but solid?

A broom, you get.  And you sweep those lousy beer makers out the door.

We needed something after that Nationals series; we needed it in the worst way.  We needed a sweep, and what’s more, we needed a dominant, unquestionable sweep.  We needed to prove beyond doubt that we were the class of the division.

But in a way, this almost feels better.

We didn’t dominate.  We outscored the Brewers, over the entire series, by four runs.  We made errors; we left men on base; in multiple scoring opportunities, we failed to capitalize.

And then we looked at what had happened, and realized we’d swept ‘em anyway.

We’re not playing at our highest level yet — not by a long shot.  Pitching, almost.  But the offense is far from where it could be.

And so, like we’ve been looking forward to since it became clear that we were assembling a super-rotation, just when the offense took a step back, the pitching stepped in and won us three games in a row.

A team working just like it’s supposed to.  There are few sweeter sights.

Today, it was Thor, going 7 innings without an earned run, and striking out 11.  It could have been Matz, or deGrom, or — if he can ever get out there and find himself — Harvey.  But either way, the pitching staff that we’ve been assembling since 2012 was out in full force.

On the offensive side, it was Conforto and Cabrera.  Not much offense, but enough.  The offense that we built to complement this pitching staff — not an onslaught of runs, but enough to do the job — got its work done perfectly.

And now we’re headed into Washington coming off a sweep.  We’ve got Colón, Harvey, and Matz.  A maybe, a hopefully, and a probably.  Meanwhile, our offense is due for a turnaround any day now.

That’s the best part about this team.  You can knock us down for a while; last week, the Nationals did just that.  But we’re always just a few steps away from a turnaround.  We’re never out.

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Captain Clutch

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I couldn’t watch today’s game: I was busy coaching a team of eight-to-ten year olds, en route to a 10-1 loss.  But that was an obligation, so I had no choice but to get by on nothing more than a few seconds on the radio here and there, and a peek now and again at MLB at-bat.

We watched another game before our own started, and, being two veterans of the league, my dad and I couldn’t help commenting on the quality of play.

“Someone should write a book about little league,” he said, as the first baseman, quite surprisingly, caught a throw, “and call it, ‘Spasms of Competence.’”

Pretty much what Eric Campbell was currently going through, I interjected.  Everyone agreed that “spasms of competence” fit well, both lyrically and semantically.

I was listening on the radio as Granderson homered to lead off the bottom of the first.  I called out the news to my brother and his friend, both preparing to play their game, both eight years old.

At first, they didn’t hear me.  They were having a loud, shouted, happy conversation about Alejandro De Aza.

My influence has rubbed off, and I couldn’t be more proud.

They were arguing about de Aza versus Campbell — who was better?  De Aza has more home runs, the friend said.

“De Aza doesn’t have any home runs,” I replied.

“Yes he does,” said my brother.  “He hit one in Cleveland.”

Repeat: I couldn’t be more proud.

I was still listening, although not as intently, when Ramon Flores — what is it with guys named Flores? — somehow managed to homer off deGrom.  My co-coach, also a Mets fan, was listening too.  Fortunately, the game hadn’t started yet.

We both hung our heads.  Later on, over the course of a ten run loss, we’d remain chipper and upbeat.  But some things are serious.

After that, I barely even got the radio on.  I was maintaining a dugout filled with hyperactive young baseball players who couldn’t decide between watching the game, playing with the water fountain, and tackling each other: the occasional check of my phone was all I had time for.

And to make matters worse, my phone was dying.

I was doing fine on battery power when Cespedes came to the plate in the sixth as the tying run.     A few pitches later, the game was tied.  Coaching third, my dad had just seen the same thing.  I turned to the third coach.

“Cespedes, two run bomb,” I said.

“Ha, ha,” he responded, thinking that I was making a joke about our hitter, who had just swung at a pitch that had bounced in the dirt in front of home plate.

“No seriously,” I said.  “Cespedes, two run bomb, tied at four.”

He looked at me, and understood.  “Oh!” he said, grateful beyond words for a respite from the incompetence of little league.  “That’s fantastic!”

Communication between coaches on the field is difficult, especially when you’re in the field, attempting to maintain the same focus that you’re drilling into your players — not that they maintain their focus at all — and also need the other team to think you’re up to something.  We’ve got dozens of tricks up our sleeves, ready to deploy at any time; when you’ve drawn up a play called the Guggle Muggle, you know you’re ready for anything.  So it helps to keep opponents on the edge.

So, when Addison Reed finished off the eighth inning with a strikeout, stranding the go-ahead run on second, I wasn’t quite sure how to communicate it to my dad, the third base coach.  I waved to get his attention.  I gave a strikeout signal.  I pointed to my phone, indicating that I was referring to the game that I’d been using it to follow.

He picked up his phone, thinking that I was saying that I’d sent him something.  Ah well.  As he himself said, mere spasms of competence.  But he understood it eventually, when I called out, so that the commissioner watching from beyond the outfield fence couldn’t hear, “Reed got the out!”

Then came that crazy ninth, and wouldn’t you know it, we were batting again, so we Mets fans, father and son, were separated, first and third, 90 feet apart (a reduced-size field, if you know your little league rules), barely able to communicate.

First, Campbell got a hit.

“Campbell got a hit!” I called out.

“Really???” My dad asked.

“It was a slow grounder deflected by the second baseman,” I said.

“That makes more sense,” he responded.

It was fitting, I suppose, in that Campbell was the player in whose context spasms of competence had been first mentioned, and now, in the ninth, we were enjoying a bit of competence of our own.

Then, Plawecki walked.

“Familia’s up,” I said.  Then, a realization hit me.  “THEY’RE GOING TO PINCH-HIT MATT REYNOLDS!!!!!”

Sure enough, Reynolds came to the plate.  Still looking for his first big-league hit, he settled into the box.  Would he do it?  Would he record his first MLB hit in walk-off fashion?

No, he wouldn’t.  That’s not the kind of player he is.  He was asked to bunt.  He’s been languishing in the minors for years, doing nothing but perfecting his fundamental hitting.  Of course he would get the bunt down.

Then he fouled the first two attempts off.

“I don’t like the bunt here,” my dad said.

Then, with the bunt still on 0-2, he got one down perfectly.

“I suppose it’s something,” my dad amended himself.

“Granderson can win it with a fly ball,” I called out, now speaking to the diamond at large.  Then I saw ball one.  Pretty far outside.  And then I checked the pitch listing.  They were walking him.

I relayed the information to everyone around me.

“Them’s fighting words,” my dad said.

Wright stepped into the box.  I watched the screen, seeing only numbered circles but heart thumping nonetheless.  Meanwhile, we continued our offensive futility.

(At one point — this is true, although not strictly related — we had a play that started as a ground-out, and turned into two runs, with the batter being one of them.  There were three errors on the play.  For those of you scoring at home, it went 5-3-3-7-2-7-5-2).

The opposing team’s first baseman, it turned out, was also a Mets fan.  He’d heard me giving rudimentary play-by-play, but wasn’t clear on the situation.

“What’s happening?” he asked me.

“Bases loaded, one out,” I said.

“Who’s up?” he asked.

“Wright,” I responded.

“Nice!” he said.

David Wright hasn’t had a star-level season since 2013.  This year, his struggles have been mighty.  But even fans born just as Shea Stadium was coming down know what he’s capable of.  That, alone, should say all that needs to be said about David Wright’s contributions to the franchise.

As I watched, the game on the field barely snagging the corner of my eye, Michael Blazek threw ball one, then ball two, then ball three.

“He’s going to walk in the winning run!” the coach on my side said.

Almost simultaneously, Gary Cohen, in the SNY booth, said, “Blazek might walk in the winning run.”

And then a blue circle appeared.  MLB at-bat users will know the feeling: that brief, half-second moment when you can’t tell whether it’s runs or outs.  Then you look down at the pitch description.  And you find, sure enough, that it’s in play, run(s).

I pumped my fist, and ran the length of the dugout and back.  “Wright did it!” I shouted out.

“What did he do?” my dad asked.

“Won the game!” I shouted.

“How?” he asked.

“I don’t know!” I explained.

Spasms of competence indeed.

I would later learn that Wright had shot a line drive to the right-center field gap, classic captain, just like he used to do it.  I would later realize just how surprising it had been that Wright had been given the hit sign 3-0 — or, as he later explained, that he’d swung, unsure whether he’d gotten the hit sign or not.  I would later watch the highlight about six times, smiling unconsciously as my childhood hero won my ball club a game.

But for now, I was content just to watch, as both the dugout and the playing field, both filled with players, burst into celebrations, all suddenly Mets fans, all aware that the Mets had pulled out another victory.

A David Wright walkoff hit, driving a field full of kids to celebration…could there be a more perfect picture of what baseball is all about?

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All Matz On Hand

MLB: New York Yankees at New York Mets

Steven Matz – I don’t know, he’s been great.  What more can you say?

Two straight embarrassing losses, a fall from the top of the division, a stagnant offense, a lost pitching staff.  Who to turn to?

Well, why not Rookie of the Year frontrunner Steven Matz?

After the first inning, suffice it to say that things didn’t look good.  A two-run home run given up to Chris Carter, to the deepest part of the park for the second straight night, put us behind early for the second straight day,  and left a bleak outlook as the game began.

But Steven Matz isn’t going through Matt Harvey’s struggles.  In fact, he’s doing just the opposite.  He’s blazing, amazing, forging a trail rarely followed by Mets pitchers, let alone rookies.

He’s won six straight ballgames, the first Met since R.A. Dickey to do so, and in those six, has a 1.35 E.R.A, and has averaged 9.45 strikeouts per nine innings.  Since his E.R.A. stood at 37.20 after his first start — “he looks like he needs some time in the minors,” said an anonymous scout, proving if nothing else that scouting is far from perfect — it’s come down every start.

Even tonight, he made one bad pitch.  Outside of that, he pitched 6.2 scoreless innings and allowed two hits.

Even with Harvey’s woes, we’ve still got Thor (4-2, 2.19), deGrom (3-1, 2.50), and Matz (6-1, 2.81).  Remind me how we’ve lost 18 games?

We had Matz providing the pitching — not to mention a little offense, which is always a nice something extra — but for a while, the offense continued its listless, unproductive drear.  With men on first and third, only one out, Rene Rivera hit an RBI groundout, the almost the least productive RBI possible.

And then, finally — FINALLY — Michael Conforto broke out.

It wasn’t the type of beautiful, almost musical Conforto home run we’re used to — it was more of a pop-up that had carry.  Nevertheless, it did the job.  Conforto was back on track, and we were back in the lead.

Inevitably, after scoring only five runs in three days, questions have come about the offense — why aren’t we scoring?  What are we going to do?  But honestly, I prefer not to dwell on them.

We won today.  Everything else is secondary.  Why waste time on the negatives?

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You Don’t Boo ‘Em

Today’s game wasn’t a good one — that much was clear from the start.  And from my seat near the front of the upper deck, I was reminded, not of anything about the team itself, but about a certain type of Mets fan, that I can’t say I like.

Two men sat behind my friend and I, and did not hesitate to voice their extreme displeasure with the proceedings on the field — even when they were unequivocally positive.  We’re solidly above .500, and for the first few innings, were right in the game — but apparently, this wasn’t enough.

With Yoenis Cespedes on first, Neil Walker singled to right.  Daniel Murphy pretended to catch the ball, forcing Cespedes to hesitate before taking second.

“You can’t fall for that!” shouted a 55 year old man behind me, who would have fallen for it.

Then, with Cabrera at the plate, Cespedes took off for third on the pitch.  Cabrera drove it up the middle just as Cespedes slid into third.

“Run, you retard!” shouted the guy behind me, as Cespedes scored standing up.

“Hey!” I called, for their benefit more than anything else.  “It all ended up fine!  We scored!  A good thing happened!”

But this wasn’t enough.  They wouldn’t shut up about Daniel Murphy the traitor, Matt Harvey the bum, or David Wright the automatic out.  When Wright singled to right-center in the fifth, Granderson went to second, and stopped there.

There were a million fundamental reasons to do this.  You never make the last out at third base.  The ball was shallow, and Bryce Harper’s arm is formidable.  There were two outs, so being on third held no advantage.

“Granderson, you pussy!” shouted the guy behind me.  Sometimes, Mets fans are insufferable.

Disagreements in opinion, I can take.  Polite expressions of discontent, I’ll accept.  But there are some things you just don’t do.  And booing David Wright is one of them.

Let’s just look, if you will, at the things that David Wright has been through in his career.  A head-crushing beaning.  A broken finger.  A debilitating back injury.  Simultaneous shoulder problems.  A hamstring pull.  Another season destroyed by back and shoulder injuries.  Another hamstring pull.  And finally, Spinal Stenosis.

The fact that he’s still on his feet is incredible.  The fact that he’s still on the field, with an OBP above .360, making the plays and taking his at-bats, is nothing short of a miraculous testament to his perseverance through a maze of injuries that’s almost unheard-of.

So, no.  You don’t boo him.

And as far as I’m concerned, the same goes for Matt Harvey.  Harvey has had Tommy John surgery.  How many of the fans booing from their seats tonight have experienced Tommy John surgery?  The experience of having to learn to throw again, almost as if with a whole new arm?  Ask that question of yourself before shouting from the stands.  Ask whether Matt is giving everything he’s got — that’s the only question that should play into your decision of whether or not to boo.  Ask whether his hanging head as he walked off the mound in the third meant he felt just as bad, just as angry at himself, as you did.

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Of course, these players have one thing in common; asked the question, they’d probably both respond that with their performances, they deserved to be booed.  And that makes it all the more shameful to boo them.  The admission of their faults — they’ve both said that they want to, and should, be playing better than they are — is just another step in the right direction.  It’s not something you boo: it’s just the opposite.  Wright and Harvey are our guys, two cornerstones of our team who aren’t on their games right now, but can get there.  Booing two players who are quite obviously trying their absolute hardest to return to form doesn’t help anyone.

Listening to the soliloquy of complaints from the seats behind me, I wasn’t disgusted by the failure of the players on the field, or angered by our lack of fundamental success: I empathized with it.  These are baseball players; they’re doing their jobs just like everyone else, and like most people, they’re trying their best to do their jobs correctly.  That doesn’t mean we can win every day.  It doesn’t mean we’re not allowed to make mistakes.  We all fail sometimes, baseball players as well as everyday citizens.  It’s allowed, and no one deserves to be booed for it.

He’s David Wright, my childhood hero, the man who taught me to play third base, and even more importantly, taught me how to overcome adversity and get back on the field — in more ways than most people can see.  He’s — debatably, but probably — the second-greatest Met of all time.  He’s our captain.  You don’t boo him.

He’s Matt Harvey, one of our four aces, possessor of more pitching talent than any of us can dream of.  He’s been through Tommy John Surgery, and posted the greatest recovery season of all time.  You don’t boo him.

Neither of them played particularly well tonight.  That doesn’t change a thing.  They’re our guys.  You don’t boo ’em.

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A Blowout Of Competing Emotions

Sitting in the stands watching the Mets undertaking a futile attempt to oust the Nationals from the top of the division, reasons to give up and pack it in came at me, one after the other.

First, Bartolo Colón didn’t have it.  That much was clear from the first inning, when he walked two batters.  Bartolo is a control guy — when he’s walking the house, you know it’s just not his night.  It’s like Kevin James delivering a fat joke that falls flat; after that, you know it’s just not working out.

Second, we weren’t hitting.  Against Gio Gonzalez — not, as far as I’m aware, Steve Carlton, although based on how we looked at the plate, you couldn’t be sure — we simply couldn’t put things together.  Cespedes had two hits, including a monstrous home run, but that was about as far as we got: outside of some stray singles, our offense couldn’t muster so much as a fighting chance at a scoring opportunity.

Third, despite a clean forecast, it was raining.

In my seat in the rapidly emptying upper deck, I felt like Doug Heffernan, in that classic King of Queens episode, wherein Doug attempts to complete his delivery route as a blizzard rages around him.  (And it takes real talent to write multiple Kevin James references in describing a single Mets game; don’t try it at home).  He wants to pack it in and give up; supervisor O’Boyle won’t let him.  Thus, the following exchange ensues:

“I’m officially requesting a 317.”

“Heffernan, you’re not abandoning your truck.”

“Okay, then I’m officially requesting a 318.”

“Heffernan, you’re not opening your packages and eating the contents.”

The incompetence on display down on the field was my blizzard; leaving my seat was my 317; packing it in and getting home in time to catch King of Queens on TVLand was my 318.  And the fact that the game hadn’t ended yet was my supervisor O’Boyle.

I’m a Mets fan.  And to quote the sign man, real fans stay ’til the end.

It didn’t even require any thought; I would stay.  So I did, even as the fans around me filtered out and the only — or at least, loudest — people remaining were complaining about everything under the sun, from Daniel Murphy both being “overrated” and “a traitor” to Jim Henderson being overpaid to David Wright being “already out,” whatever that meant.

“Why are you still here?” I wanted to ask them.  If your greatest pleasure during a loss is yelling insults at anyone who can hear you, it seems to me that you’re not the type of person to stick out a blowout loss until the end out of a sense of fan loyalty.

And it’s not like there weren’t good things to see, either.  We saw Juan Lagares make another circus catch in center, reminiscent of equal parts ’14 Lagares and ’54 Mays.  We saw Cespedes get two more hits, both line drives, one a home run, not meaning much but still fun to see.

You can’t expect a win every time; the best teams ever have lost one of every three.  What you can hope for, day in and day out, is stories to remember, plays that stand out, a game that contributes to the ongoing experience of being a Mets fan.  Today wasn’t much fun to watch, but it was certainly that.

There’s genuine emotion involved in watching these games, from the frustration of multiple walks from so-called control pitchers to the hope when Matt Reynolds comes to the plate, looking for his first major league hit.  He did, indeed, line a shot to center.  It was caught.  But he’ll get there.

But most of all, the prevalent emotion was straight-up sadness.  Sadness, in one specific circumstance: David Wright, the captain, coming to the plate, working diligently to bring the count full, seeing the ball well, not chasing bad pitches, and then swinging through a fastball, or taking a curve, for strike three.

I’m not panicked about David; not yet, at least.  He’s had his bad streaks, and he’ll be back.  But he’s not the player that he once was: that much is clear, and I suppose, to be expected — no one remains at 33 the player they were at 24.  He’s just slumping, and he’ll get clear of it eventually.  But still — watching my childhood hero, with whom I formed a bond beyond normal baseball player and fan when we both began recovering from chronic ailments, finally succumb to the forces that have been attempting to bring him down his whole career, is far less than enjoyable.

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I don’t fault Wright at all — not for a minute.  With all he’s been through, the fact that he’s still out on the field, three days out of for, is completely miraculous, in defiance of conventional medical knowledge and a testament to the captain’s uncommon level of resolve and determination.  As far as I’m concerned, he’s got a free ride from here on out — he’s already accomplished Mets greatness, and everything else is just icing on the cake.

***

I left my seat in the upper deck for the bottom of the ninth, and moved down to field level, watching from the first base side.  Cespedes popped out, and Walker did as well, on — ironically — a nice play, going back into the outfield, from one Daniel Murphy.  With two outs, the final exodus for the exits had already begun.

Then Asdrubal Cabrera smacked a double to left.  The scant fans remaining did their best to get loud.

“Come back!” one fan yelled to a friend, already on their way down the stairs.  “It’s not over yet!”

Plawecki smacked the first pitch that he saw as well.  It was hit hard.  It was deep.  And it was right into Jason Werth’s glove.  Ballgame over.

So all in all, it wasn’t the best game I could have seen; not by a long shot.  But there were positives, and that’s all you can ask for.

And what’s more, now we’ve got a rubber game to look forward to, Matt Harvey on the mound looking for redemption.  And having observed the Dark Knight’s character over his few years in Queens, I’d say he’s got a decent shot at finding it.

The uniqueness of the Mets and Mets fandom — Mets exceptionalism, you could say — was on full display tonight.  Because even in a blowout, 7-1 loss, where nothing went right and the fans couldn’t get to the exits fast enough, I was reminded just how wonderful this team is to root for.

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The Lightning-Struck Nationals

Matt Reynolds

While perhaps not the star of the day, Matt Reynolds finally became a major league ballplayer, which is an achievement in itself – let alone becoming a Met.

Newly liberated from school, with the summer laid out before me, I returned home, and almost immediately, hopped the train to Citi Field, as the Mets began a critical series against the Nationals.

It wasn’t just any other game, although I would have been there if it had been: it was a great deal more than that. It was numbers one and two in the division, duking it out. It was the homecoming of Thor, after a two home-run game on the road. It was Max Scherzer’s first start since his 20-strikeout effort. It was Daniel Murphy’s return to Citi Field.

I arrived at the stadium, the sky threatening but the weather report reassuring, and made my way in through the crowd. Joined shortly thereafter by two friends, neither Mets fans but both fans of a thrilling duel of aces, I settled back in my seat to watch my first unencumbered game of the summer.

But before the action began, we were treated to a video tribute to former Met, Daniel Murphy. Murph stood on the field directly below me, the camera on him, while clips of him played on the screen, showing one home runs and diving stops, one after the other. None of Murph’s various imperfections were on display; his Mets tenure, in the video, was reduced to the positive.

I didn’t have a problem with it. When Murph waved to the crowd after the video, I stood, along with the majority of the stands, and applauded him. He never asked to leave; we showed him the door, not that most of us wanted to. He wanted to be a Met; as his tenure here ended, he gave us some of the greatest moments we’d ever seen. Murph was a great Met; the history books will tell you. It’s not his fault he plays for an odious division rival.

Then the game began, and bigger concerns took over. Thor was dealing: from the beginning, that much was obvious. A soft groundout, a strikeout, and a tapper up the first-base line from Bryce Harper ended a scoreless first.

Then Max Scherzer took the mound. And one pitch later, he’d given up more runs than Thor would surrender all game. Granderson got ahold of one, really got all of it, and put it where even Bryce Harper couldn’t bring it back.

It was a fine moment for Granderson, who’s due for a hot streak, and sure enough, was 2/2 with two walks. Before one of those walks, one of my Yankee-sympathizing friends turned to me.

“I hate Granderson,” he said. “He used to strike out every other at-bat for us. The one thing he’s gotten better at is knowing how to walk.” One pitch later, Granderson walked.

Two innings later, Michael Conforto came to bat. Conforto’s hit a cold spell — “isn’t his average down?” one of my friends asked me — but there have been positive signs, of late. He’d walked in the first, and had been hitting the ball hard for the past few games.

He smoked one, towards Harper again. Harper went back. Not far enough. Gone.

“In Yankee Stadium,” my friend told me as Conforto rounded the bases, “that might have hit the edge of the upper deck.”

We had the lead, and now we’d extended it. Meanwhile, Thor was still dealing; he’d been good, but not quite superb, and was due for a dominating, unhittable start. And today, he had it.

The Nationals put a man on third in the second inning. A double play ended that threat. That was as far as they got. Thor’s final line: seven innings, ten strikeouts, no runs allowed. 4-2 record, 2.19 E.R.A. An ofer for Bryce Harper, who was damn sure due for one. Completely unhittable, poised and controlled, not so much as a rustle of discomfort or uncertainty. The slider snapping in, the fastball blazing past confused bats, the sinker — “he throws a 97 M.P.H. SINKER??” my friend asked at one point — completely befuddling the Nationals’ hapless batsmen.

And what was that, amid the tightly played 2-0 win? What was that inconsequential strike-out in the second inning, some new guy batting in the nine spot? Why, that was Matt Reynolds.

Yes, Matt Reynolds — whose arrival I’ve waited for since 2013, with, until now, unsuccessful results — finally getting his shot. Reynolds, who had just arrived from Vegas to fill the slot vacated by Sean Gilmartin’s demotion — he just never seems to stick around, does he? — was a late addition to the lineup, taking David Wright’s spot at third after Wright was scratched. He complained of back pain, but he still wanted to play. Terry Collins said no. “He may have saved me a trip to the D.L.,” Wright said after the game.

So Reynolds played third and batted ninth, and although he didn’t have a hit, making one’s debut is an achievement in itself. Reynolds has been playing a steady shortstop in Las Vegas for a few years now, and finally being rewarded for his hard work is something he wholeheartedly deserves. And watching from the stands, his success at joining that most exclusive group of baseball players — major leaguers — is, at its core, what baseball is all about.

Reed came in for a perfect eighth, and in the ninth, Familia faced the top of the Nationals’ order. Working hard against Ben Revere, he struck him out after a few foul balls. Jason Werth lined a ball to Lagares, in center field as a defensive replacement. Bryce Harper came to bat, with Daniel Murphy onn deck.

I couldn’t help be reminded of a 2014 game against the Nationals, Mets down 5-2 in the ninth. Murphy was due up fifth that inning.

“If he comes up,” I thought to myself, considering the possibility with absolute certainty, “he’ll hit a three run homer.”

Sure enough, two runners reached base. Murph came up, representing the tying run. And sure enough, he lined a pitch to deep right field. It had the distance to clear the wall. But Jayson Werth interfered. He leapt, reached a few feet above the top of the fence, and pulled it back.

I’d been furious then. And as sure as I’d been that Murph would tie the game, I knew it today. If Murphy came up, the Nationals would tie it.

No reason to let Murph tie it up then.

Bryce Harper hit a sharp grounder to — who else? — Matt Reynolds. Reynolds scooped it and fired to first. Bryce Harper was 0-4. And with that, the win was in the books.

I did a lot of thinking on the subway ride home — I had ample time, as the express train had, mid trip, started making local stops due to “train traffic.” I thought about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. I thought about my growing appreciation for Taylor Swift’s vocals, and whether that conflicted with my avowed preference for classic rock. I thought about the young — by which I mean, “maybe a year or two older than me” — couple next to me, who were living a scenario — the Mets date — that I, so far, have only dreamed about.

But mostly, I thought about what a great win it had been. I thought about Thor and Conforto and Matt Reynolds, all young guys finally living the dream of major league baseball. I thought about Bartolo Colón, honored pregame by the Guinness Book of World Records and slated to start tomorrow in what will be a massive homecoming. I thought about David Wright and Lucas Duda and Steven Matz, laid low by injury but ready to return soon.

And most of all, I thought about how lucky I was to be a Mets fan. And how great it was to be back.

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Say Goodbye To Denver

It’s over, it’s done, we’ve got a new umpiring crew, and we’re coming back home.

That’s all there is to say.

Let’s hope this was the low point of our season, and we can move forward.

deGrom was pitching well until Terry took him out, because PITCH COUNTS!!!!!! But then Jim Henderson, who does not have a history of pitching well on back to back days, came in for the second day in a row and allowed a two run homer.

Lagares was making his way to third base in the eighth inning when he completely legally avoided Nolan Arenado’s tag. It’s called the rule book; it defines what is allowed. You have to follow it, umpires; you can’t just make things up as you go, calling someone out because it looked like they were out of the base line, or it really seemed like they’d left the baseline. There’s actually a base path; it’s not just an abstract construct that you’re free to interpret.

deGrom wasn’t great, but roughed it out for the second straight start. I’d love to see him back on form, but so long as he keeps pushing through and going what should have been seven innings, two runs allowed, and a win, I’m okay with that, if only as a less appealing substitute.

Cespedes homered. Conforto singled. De Aza was terrible. Campbell had two hits. Duda is done. Jim Henderson has the same E.R.A. as Jerry Koosman in 1968. Juan Lagares is freakin’ dependable. Asdrubal Cabrera kept doing his thing.

Maybe you can tell. Watching a sweep like this has a propensity to cloud my wont for verbal theatrics, and get to the bare bones of what the hell we just went through.

Last year, the low point of our season came in late July. A few days later, we were in first place to stay.

Now, we’re set for our first matchup with the Nats of the season. Thor versus Scherzer. Murph’s homecoming. It’s going to be crazy.

This last year or so, when we’ve needed to sweep the Nationals, we’ve been successful.

It was a bad series. It’s over. Now, back home to real life.

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