Noah’s bark should have gotten a Mets bite

Syndergaard, escorted from Sunday's game by trainer Ray Ramirez.

Syndergaard, escorted from Sunday’s game by trainer Ray Ramirez.

It’s one thing for baseball players to have the kind of contract negotiating autonomy they’ve enjoyed in the free agency era. But it’s something else when the keys to the zoo get lifted by the animals, as the Mets may be learning the hard way. Players may choose for whom they play when contracts expire, but they still, alas, have bosses. Or so we thought.

Don’t be surprised if the 23-5 terrorist attacks the Nationals laid upon the Mets Sunday afternoon have a lot of people wondering just who’s been running the Mets.

The Gnats turn into crazed hornets

Rendon led the Nationals' assault, battery, and human rights violations against the Mets Sunday afternoon.

Rendon led the Nationals’ assault, battery, and human rights violations against the Mets Sunday afternoon.

Sometimes the path you don’t take leads to disaster. Noah Syndergaard and the Mets re-learned the hard way Sunday afternoon. And it wouldn’t necessarily be a consolation to remind them that they did take two of three from the National League East-leading Nationals over weekend.

Syndergaard was already pushed back to Sunday because biceps and shoulder discomfort. That compelled the Mets to send Matt Harvey out against the Braves—an outing for which Harvey wasn’t even told until the same morning, leaving him two chances to prepare properly: slim and none—and get his and the Mets’ jock straps knocked off.

The Mets treat the Nats like gnats this weekend—so far

d'Arnaud and Conforto have dropped big bombs on the Nats this weekend thus far . . .

d’Arnaud and Conforto have dropped big bombs on the Nats this weekend thus far . . .

To most appearances, when the Mets opened a weekend set with the Nationals Friday night , it looked like this could become the weekend in which the Mets were driven far enough down that they might not get back up again. Battered by the disabled list and losers of nine out of ten—including the previous weekend’s sweep by the Nats in New York—the Mets didn’t just look beaten, they looked half buried.

Baseball injuries should mean never having to say you’re sorry

Buchholz, who's apologised for something that should require no apology.

Buchholz, who’s apologised for something that should require no apology.

Clay Buchholz, Phillies pitcher, recuperating from surgery to repair a small tear in his flexor pronator mass, showed up at Citizens Bank Park Wednesday to see the Phillies tangle with the Marlins. MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, a sober reporter, reported Buchholz apologised to general manager Matt Klentak “and others.”

Apologised, mind you.

Another sober reporter, NBC’s Bill Baer, says Buchholz was out of line. Not in the way you usually think when you see that phrase. “It’s saddening to me, and indicative of the general anti-labor culture in sports, that a player feels obligated to apologize for getting injured on the job,” Baer writes.

Machado, Pedroia, and respect won and lost

Matt Barnes attempting to decapitate Manny Machado Sunday . . .

Matt Barnes attempting to decapitate Manny Machado Sunday for a hard but not dirty slide Friday night . . .

I wonder if anyone noticed something during the Red Sox-Orioles series ender Sunday. Not Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes trying to decapitate Orioles third baseman Manny Machado in the eighth inning, but the way the Orioles handled the would-be brain scrambler.

They did nothing.

Machado, who isn’t exactly a shrinking violet when it comes to confronting pitchers he thinks get out of line with him, didn’t move a muscle toward Barnes.

The Philth and the Furies

Macho RowThe early-to-mid 1970s Athletics and the 1986 Mets were seminarians in comparison. Meet, or re-meet, the 1993 Phillies, the zoo in which the animals held the keys, thanks to William C. Kashatus’s Macho Row: The 1993 Phillies and Baseball’s Unwritten Code. (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press; 343 p.; $27.95.)

They were the Philthy Phillies who won a pennant dramatically enough and lost a World Series even more dramatically. Carrying themselves like old schoolers while, somehow, organised and managed like a sort-of school of tomorrow, the 1993 Phillies were the Hell’s Angels without motorcycles but on actual or alleged performance-enhancing laughing gas.

Now the Giants are truly Bummed out

Despite how it looks, Madison Bumgarner isn't about to try self-flight with his two wings. He has enough trouble balancing on two wheels.

Madison Bumgarner’s wings—well, the shoulder bone of his left one—got clipped when his dirt bike hit the skid in Denver . . .

Boys will be boys, but that sometimes includes getting a little reckless on their off-duty time. Last fall, Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer sliced a thumb with one of his hobby drones and was almost useless to the Indians’ push to break their World Series drought. Now it’s springtime and Madison Bumgarner, on a day off, sprained a bone in his pitching shoulder and bruised a few ribs—breezing along on a dirt bike in Denver until he hit a slippery spot.

Bucknor’s strike four; or, immune umps versus vulnerable players, continued

C.B. Bucknor, Jayson Werth

C.B. Bucknor (far left, next to Nationals manager Dusty Baker) can’t be held accountable for his malfeasance, but Jayson Werth (far right) could have faced a fine or suspension if he’d criticised Bucknor by name after strike four Tuesday night.

Try for a moment to imagine you could be reprimanded or prosecuted for criticising a Supreme Court justice, for whatever reason you saw fit. Of course that’s absurd, because you can’t be reprimanded or prosecuted for criticising a justice. Or a judge, so long as you don’t do it in open court.

So who looks how so far?

Two weeks doesn’t equal a season, and what’s looking top of the line now could end up looking middle of the pack or worse by the time the stretch drive arrives. Still, you can’t help noticing a few things, in no particular order:

WRINGING BULLS—The Mets’ bullpen was under a heavy burden before that sixteen-inning marathon against the Marlins to open a four-game set. Then both teams emptied the pens and benches and the Mets came away with the win. The Mets pen was gassed the rest of the weekend, costing Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, and Matt Harvey despite their solid enough pitching. That’s why Jeurys Familia will be welcomed back with Roman candles later this week.

The Mets bomb in Philadelphia—the right way

Hitting his third bomb of the night---"I think I was seeing the ball well," he said, in the understatement of the night.

Hitting his third bomb of the night—”I think I was seeing the ball well,” he said, in the understatement of the night.

Perhaps if the Mets knew Yoenis Cespedes would hit three home runs the day after, the might ask someone to take one for the team every day. For results like a 14-4 blowout of the Phillies Tuesday, you might find any number of Mets willing to take a pitch upside the head the night before.