So there was this Thursday day game between the Mets and Cubs at Shea back in 1990. My uncle had season tickets back then, and knew some ushers that would get us up to some pretty good seats. You know, back in the day when people actually sat in the good seats at Mets games.
The Mets were up 4-1 in the ninth when I see a guy in a Cubs hat making his break to leave—it was none other than Bill Murray. So I went up to him and asked him to sign my program. Of course, given the score and his well-known Cub fandom, I couldn’t help ribbing him a little, being a 12 year-old punk kid. "Trying to beat traffic, Bill? If my team had only four hits all day I'd leave early too." Bill handed me back the signed program with a distant bemused smile, eyes fixed on his exit, and pushed past. "Better luck next year!" I added helpfully. It was April.
Anyway, I tell this story as a transparent distraction to the joyless march to oblivion that was this afternoon’s affair. To recall a time where, you know, we had some authority. Enough to embolden a pre-teen to talk trash to Bill Murray.
The funny thing is that looking back at that scorecard from 1990, it seems that the Mets somehow scored their four runs on only three hits. Two separate innings they scored a run without a hit. This was a team that helped popularize playing people out of position for the franchise (second baseman Keith Miller playing center; third baseman Gregg Jefferies playing second; third baseman HoJo would end up playing a ton of games at short), but even with that terrible defense at least they would hit. And even when they didn’t do that, they evidently ran the bases well enough and hit sac flies and what not.
Maybe I should recap that game instead. Definitely would be more fun. Well, here’s the Mets’ part of the scorecard, anyway.
I was experimenting with a different style of scoring at the time. Yeah, I don’t love it either. Tiny diamonds are the way to go.
Again, debating personal preference in scoring symbols: way more interesting than today's game. It didn't take the paying crowd long to formally recognize it. The boos started today in the bottom of the second inning, as Wilmer Flores flailed wildly at yet another outside breaking ball that he had no chance of hitting. The book is clearly out on the Mets. Throw breaking stuff away to Flores, throw the ball in the dirt to Lucas Duda, throw strikes to Eric Campbell, repeat.
Some of the biggest boos came out after ninth-place hitter Ruben Tejada's groundout to short to make the second out in the third. It was just too galling that starter Jacob deGrom, who had just lofted a double to left-center for a team that is third-from-last in extra-base hits in all of baseball, might get stranded by his punchless teammates. The boo-birds were placated briefly when Curtis Granderson jumped all over a 3-1 cutter for a ground-rule double which scored what turned out to be the Mets’ only run of the series. Afterwards, there would be more boos, and finally the hazy malaise of indifference.
Given a run of support, which was halfway his own effort anyway, deGrom needed to be the pitcher he’d been over his last eight dominating starts; he wasn’t, but he definitely wasn’t bad either. Although he allowed nine base runners in five and one-third innings, he didn’t give up many particularly hard-hit balls. With some better defense, it’s maybe even possible he doesn’t allow any runs today.
deGrom himself may have had a chance to get Chris Coghlan at the plate on a safety squeeze attempt in the second, but took the sure out at first. It was the right decision in most circumstances, but giving up a run with the current Mets team feels a bit like a death knell at this point. At least thorn-in-the-side Coghlan got the back of his pants blown open on his slide into home; perhaps our ground crew is our best defensive weapon at this point.
It’s already well clear that our defense isn’t our best defense. In the fifth, Daniel Murphy skipped a throw over to first which Lucas Duda couldn’t handle, allowing batter Starlin Castro to get to second (Castro was credited with a hit for some reason. If the Mets do finally decide to shake things up, don’t be surprised if they start with the official scorer. My portfolio is attached above in photo form). Castro then scored on a bloop hit by Anthony Rizzo, giving the Cubs all the runs they would need—runs, plural, is all you need to beat the Mets right now.
The Cubs didn’t stop there though, basically toying with the Mets as they playfully mauled our souls. Banjo-hitting journeyman Jonathan Herrera, who had already authored the earlier safety squeeze to rub some salt in the wounds of last night’s debacle, hit just about the most rob-able home run possible to chase deGrom in the sixth. The ball hit off the top of the right field wall and bounced over; Granderson had gotten there but was tentative and awkward going after it, and didn’t even manage to put a glove on it. Every loss seems to have these glaring, pinpoint-able moments which clearly show how the physical or mental shortcomings of this team are costing games, clear for all the denizens of Panic City to see and sorrowfully shake their heads at.
There definitely was plenty of head-shaking to do today. The Mets had two more runners caught straying too far from a base—one picked off, one doubled off. This kind of especially hurts when you only get one base runner after the fifth inning, and only three after the third (one by an HBP). Sure, you should give credit to Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta, who is having a nice season. But nah.
Basically the most successful thing that happened today was that deGrom didn’t hurt himself when he punched over a water cooler after being lifted. The Mets look to build on that as they start a difficult stretch that runs till the beginning of August, one that will likely determine the shape of this season. They will play the Dodgers in two series, the Giants and Cardinals for one series each, and the Nats for two series.
So meaningful games in August should be the goal at this point. But most of us will probably settle for one tomorrow, even though there will likely be a marked lack of encounters with any Ghostbusters.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Curtis Granderson, +9.8% WPA; Johnny Monell, +5.2% WPA; Logan Verrett, +3.1% WPA,
Big losers: Jacob deGrom (pitcher), - 26.5% WPA; deGrom (hitter), - 10.4% WPA; Eric Campbell and Ruben Tejada, -6.9% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Curtis Granderson's RBI double in the third, +14.5% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Jonathan Herrera's two-run homer in the sixth, -19.4% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -25.3% WPA
Total batter WPA: -24.7% WPA
GWRBI!: Frank Rizzo