The Astros’ return to Houston was as great a spiritual lift for that Harvey-battered city as their weekend set with the hapless Mets was a spiritual drop for the Mets’ battered fans. Sweeping the Mets sure didn’t hurt the Astros, as healers and as likely postseason entrants, but some would suggest that sweeping what’s left of these Mets was doing it the cruelly easy way.
What’s next for the New York Mess (er, Mets)? Pitchers coming in from the bullpen in the Deathmobile? Hazing their rookies by sending them on a mass Food King shoplift? A toga party at second base? A food fight in the clubhouse? Welcome to Citi Field’s Animal House.
I’d better amend one of the foregoing. At the rate they’re going, three more Mets would be injured during the food fight, one of the rookies on the mass Food King shoplift would come up with a strained oblique, and another would suffer a shoulder separation firing the pistol at the rampaging horse.
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.
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.
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.
The Mets survived everything thrown at them in 2016 and came up three bucks short. The Giants survived themselves and, at the eleventh hour, punched their ticket to Chicago for a division series showdown with the Cubs.
And until Jeurys Familia threw the wrong pitch to a no-name number eight hitter named Conor Gillaspie, who had to step in for injured Eduardo Nunez late in the season, the National League wild card game threatened to go to extra innings and maybe beyond no matter who might be the last man standing on the mound.
Don’t even think about saying the Mets have been cured completely of their June swoon just yet. And don’t even think about saying the Cubs have been broken back to the land of the mere mortals just yet. But it wouldn’t be out of line to suggest that a weekend sweep of the Cubs gave the Mets their first serious medicinal break of the year. And we use the term “medicinal” advisedly.
Two weeks ago, Matt Bush hit Jose Bautista over a seven-month-old bat flip, a flip at a time Bush wasn’t in a Rangers uniform. That plunk drew mere warnings to both the Rangers and the Blue Jays, before Bautista tried to take Rougned Odor out of a double play and Odor shoved then punched Bautista to trigger a bench-clearing brawl.
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.
There was a little huffing and puffing from the Royals’ contingency suggesting that there might—underline that—be a little payback coming for Noah Syndergaard Tuesday afternoon. That’s all it proved to be. The huffing and puffing, that is. Before the game and during the Mets’ 2-0 win.
Syndergaard irked no few Royals when he opened Game Three of the World Series, the only game the Mets would win, with a high brushback against Royals leadoff pest Alcides Escobar, whose over-comfort at the plate and concurrent consistent crowding Syndergaard decided to cure early enough.