Jeremy Guthrie, retired worse than the hard way

Jeremy Guthrie

Guthrie, on the way to begin what proved the birthday beating that sent him to retirement in April.

Ending a professional baseball career depends on the circumstances that provoked it. You’d like to see every player go out the way that’s most comfortable for him, but you know without being told that it won’t always work like that.

We hardly begrudged men like Chipper Jones, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, and David Ortiz taking their bows all around the circuit, as happened when each announced the forthcoming season that would be their last. We also wondered whether it made the sting of retirement easier to bear while wondering just how far into self-congratulation those men might fall.

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.

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.

Birthday boy subjected to immediate use, misuse, and abuse

Guthrie, looking every inch like a pitcher being beaten to within an inch of his life Saturday.

Guthrie, looking every inch like a pitcher being beaten to within an inch of his life Saturday.

It’s bad enough if and when a young pitcher gets the call to the Show, gets the start under whatever circumstances, and gets slapped around. It’s almost worse if you’re a veteran who hasn’t seen major league action in almost two years and you got a call up to take a spot start.

Jeremy Guthrie would never kid you that he’s been one of the greats of his time. But he might have told you he was serviceable enough to pitch in all or parts of twelve major league seasons prior to Saturday.

Melancon’s straw stirs the closers’ market drink

Melancon goes to the Bay to begin fixing the Giants' broken bullpen . . .

Melancon goes to the Bay to begin fixing the Giants’ broken bullpen . . .

We talk much, and often hyperbolically, about the worst kept secrets in baseball. But in 2016, the Giants’ bullpen was an easy candidate for the absolute worst-kept secret in the game. In a word, the Giants’ pen was a wreck populated by arsonists.

They went from baseball’s near-best record at the All-Star break to lucky to be in and win the wild card game against the Mets. Few thought they were better than long shots to keep their too-often spoken even-season championship streak alive.

Tuesday night at the races

Sliding home safe with his first major league homer---an inside-the-park job padding a very temporary Braves lead Tuesday . . .

Sliding home safe with his first major league homer—an inside-the-park job padding a very temporary Braves lead Tuesday . . .

How Tuesday ended with one National League club all but eliminated from the postseason, another contender setting some home run records, a third contender showing a couple of vulnerabilities that might prove fateful come postseason time, and a couple of crazy (and heretofore unlikely) American League wild card sharps getting a little crazier . . .

The Washington Strangler asks for and gets his release

The smirking strangler, captured against the dugout rail shortly after he tried choking Harper last September . . .

The smirking strangler, captured against the dugout rail shortly after he tried choking Harper last September . . .

When the Nationals reached out and landed then-Pirates closer Mark Melancon two days before the non-waiver trade deadline, I wondered aloud whether that meant incumbent Jonathan Papelbon’s days in Washington were numbered. They were. The Nats granted his release Saturday afternoon.

According to ESPN Saturday morning, Papelbon himself sought to put paid to those numbered days, reportedly asking the team to release him. The move ends a tenure that wasn’t exactly an overwhelming favourite in the first place.

Does landing Melancon number Papelbon’s days as a Nat?

Mr. Melancon goes to Washington, but . . .

Mr. Melancon goes to Washington, but . . .

Maybe the Nats really are looking to open the trap door through which Jonathan Papelbon will fall away. You don’t trade for the other guy’s star closer unless you’ve just about had it with your incumbent, for whatever reason.

Wasn’t that the reason the Nats themselves dealt for Papelbon a year ago Thursday? Because they’d just about had it with Drew Storen despite Storen having what should have become a bounceback for the ages, or at least for the Nats’ ages?