Tag Archives: Bobby Parnell

The 2015 New York Mets: One Month To Go

Wilmer Flores, Mets folk hero. Image ©MLB Advanced Media

Wilmer Flores, Mets folk hero.
Image ©MLB Advanced Media

It has been a weird, strange season for the Mets. They have had the highs of a franchise record-tying 11-game winning streak, several 7-game winning streaks, sweeping a season series against a National League team for the first time ever (they went 7-0 against Colorado), and historic (team-wise) home run production. They have had the lows of Zack Wheeler missing the season due to Tommy John surgery, of being no-hit, having long stretches when it was rare for them to score even three runs per game, and being swept by two other playoff contenders, the Pirates and the Cubs. They just won 20 games in August, their first 20-win month since 2000, the last time they made the World Series. They now have a Tug McGraw-esque folk hero in the nearly-traded Wilmer Flores. If they win the National League East (Old Man Voice: “Back in my day, they called it the National League Eastern Division”), Sandy Alderson has to be Executive of the Year for his shrewd trade deadline deals and timely call-up of Michael Conforto, and Terry Collins will be a strong candidate for Manager of the Year despite his consistent inability to properly manage the bullpen (including last night’s loss to the Phillies, when his decision to bring in Bobby Parnell to pitch the sixth inning was a blatantly obvious disaster waiting to happen that then promptly happened).

Going into tonight’s game with the Phillies, the first place Mets have a 6.5 game lead over the Nationals with 30 games to play. The Nationals have a game in hand (their game tomorrow against Atlanta), and play the Mets six more times this year. Therefore, in a worst-case scenario where the Nationals win tomorrow and then sweep the remaining games with the Mets, the division title comes down to which team plays better over their 24 other games. The Mets have four games against the Reds and three against the Yankees, with the rest of their games being against the Marlins, Braves, and Phillies, while the Nationals have three games against the Orioles and a make-up game against the Reds, with the rest of their games being against the Marlins, Braves, and Phillies. So the Reds might play a bizarrely pivotal role in the race, but it is appropriate that for the most part the division title will be decided by which team does a better job of beating up on the rest of the division.

I feel good about the Mets’ chances. Their recent bullpen additions should help shore up their recently shaky relief pitching (which still isn’t as shaky as the Nationals’, as the Washington ‘pen has blown late multi-run leads the past two nights), their starting rotation has been excellent and will be strengthened by Steven Matz’s return this weekend, and their offense is now respectable, and will get even more dangerous once Lucas Duda returns from the disabled list.

The past month as the Mets have moved back into first place has been incredibly fun for me as a fan. It reminds me of the vibe from back in the mid-1980s as a kid when they were always in the hunt, and there was always that delicious pennant race excitement. It makes it hard to concentrate on anything else. Let’s Go, Mets!

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The Comfort of Baseball

Last night I watched the Mets-Atlanta game, and the Mets lost in excruciating fashion, with Bobby Parnell giving up two runs in the top of the ninth to blow a 1-0 lead and Jason Heyward making a fantastic diving catch on Justin Turner’s drive into the left-centerfield gap in the bottom of the ninth for the final out, which would have tied the game if it had bounced out of Heyward’s glove or won the game if it had missed the glove altogether. Afterward, as I have many times before, I thought to myself “Screw this! I don’t need this kind of anguish! I’m not watching the game tomorrow night; I’ll read instead.”

But as this afternoon has worn on and I am thinking about how to unwind after a stressful day, the thought of watching the game becomes more and more appealing, and of course I’ll be in front of the television promptly at seven.

This turnaround, which has also occurred many times before, made me think of Philip Dacey’s poem “America without Baseball” from Brooke Horvath and Tim Wiles’s anthology of baseball poems, Line Drives. It depicts a late twenty-first century America where baseball has somehow died, but subliminally lives on. While “box scores began to look / like Greek or Sanskrit,”

3 and 9 became magical numbers–
all automobile license plates
carried either or both,
as did the logos of some commercial ventures,
though often buried in the design
to work subliminally on customers,
though no one could remember why.

This is the idea from the poem that has stuck with me since I first read it nearly a decade ago. I love the thought of baseball being completely ingrained in the national sub/consciousness, the thought that we could not get away from it even if we tried. This is not really the case anymore for the nation, but I was reminded that it is the case for me, and that knowledge is comforting. No matter what kind of day I am having, I can turn to baseball for solace, even in cases like last night: even though it was a hideous loss, the game itself was an intriguing, exciting one that I would have deeply enjoyed had my favorite team not been playing. The game made me exclaim out loud several times, and very few activities have that power over me. In seeking this comfort I am connected to millions of others, and that connection is significant.

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