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.
* Some think the Mets’ Tim Tebow experiment is a farce, some think it’s just good clean fun. He looked a bit on the foolish side in his first two spring games before collecting his first spring hit and making a diving catch while he was at it. There are worse things that could happen in spring training.
Concerning the rest of Hardware Week, a few sobering observations:
* Kris Bryant, the National League’s MVP, was a no-questions-asked solid pick. And yes, it’s rare that a guy follows a Rookie of the Year campaign with an MVP and a World Series ring. Maybe the least controversial award pick this year was Bryant. But if they’d given the award to one player across the board, Bryant would probably have finished second to Trout. And there’s no shame in that.
How do you follow up a game in which you nailed twenty strikeouts? If you’re Max Scherzer, who punched out twenty Tigers in a start last week, you go to New York, face Noah Syndergaard—the lightning Met who hits 100 on the radar gun with frightening regularity—and come up short despite matching Thor ten punchouts to ten punchouts.
It’s not that you pitched horribly against these Mets. It’s just that you threw two pitches you shouldn’t have. Two pitches that flew out faster than you threw them. And on a night Syndergaard was Thor to the tenth power, and the Mets bullpen didn’t have an arsonist among them, that isn’t enough.
First, the Tigers all but threw the proverbial towel in on 2015 when they unloaded three otherwise key parts at the non-waiver trade deadline. Then, they showed they weren’t kidding by letting general manager Dave Dombrowski go just months before his current contract would expire.
“They basically told me they decided to change direction of leadership in the organization,” Dombrowski told the Detroit Free Press a day later. ”It’s kind of like an end of an era. You never like to see it end.” But he said he saw it end when his assistant GM Al Avila showed up at the ballpark Tuesday and looked as though something just wasn’t right.
God knows (as does His servant Casey Stengel) that I had better things to write about on the day after Opening Days. Things like Nationals’ shortstop Ian Desmond calling second baseman Dan Uggla (yes, Virginia, that Dan Uggla) off a by-the-book popup, dropping the ball, allowing the Mets first and second, leading to Lucas Duda busting up Max Scherzer’s no-hit bid with the two run single that made the difference in the Mets’ win.
The one thing Detroit Tigers fans probably fear more than anything else happened Thursday night. The Baltimore Orioles got into the Tigers’ bullpen at all, never mind while holding a one-run lead.
The one thing Orioles fans knew above all else going in was that their power game was probably their most obvious asset, assuming they didn’t run into pitchers who could tie them up. Who knew the Orioles could perform any impression of the Kansas City Royals, never mind the one they performed in the bottom of the eighth, after homering their way for the most part to that one-run lead?
“We could not find our game in the World Series,” Miguel Cabrera mourned, while the San Francisco Giants partied heartily in Comerica Park’s visiting clubhouse. Actually, the Detroit Tigers found their game in Game Four, when they needed it most. The problem was finding it against these San Francisco Giants, who were so accustomed to playing with elimination a game away they didn’t know how to get comfortable on the threshold of a sweep.
CC Sabathia sat in the Yankee dugout gazing upon the field with a look, to an outsider, that seemed suspended between resignation and disbelief, moments after his day ended two thirds of the way through the bottom of the fourth. His Detroit counterpart, Max Scherzer, who had to get past late-season shoulder barking, would remain in the serious business of absolutely throttling a Yankee lineup for another inning and a third, doing to the Yankees what Sabathia once did to the other guys.
Jim Leyland was emphatic enough. Seeing Justin Verlander on the mound again this postseason was going to be the best thing, he said, because it would come in the World Series. As for the rest of the American League Championship Series, Verlander wouldn’t even be a topic.
Not in the Detroit Tigers’ manager’s mind, anyway. And it proved a moot point after the game, gutsy, but gimpy Tigers took one of the worst elimination beatings in postseason history in Arlington Saturday night.