With the Mets turning 50 years old on Wednesday, you wonder about that “mid-life crisis”. Most middle aged men buy sportscars. The Mets go out and buy helicopter rides to Heat games. And if spending $64 million on Jason Bay doesn’t scream “mid-life crisis”, then get every graying man a Porsche because it doesn’t look stupid at all … not at all.
You want to talk about a mid-life crisis? How about being at a ballgame where the biggest roar from the crowd came when Bay left the game on a double switch?
It started innocently enough when Roger Craig threw out the first pitch, just as he did 50 years ago on Wednesday. Most got a warm feeling of nostalgia (I got a warm feeling of “Hey, thanks for teaching Mike Scott the “split fingered fastball”.) And then what better way to celebrate a 50th birthday than with a classic pitching matchup? Except that early on, Johan Santana and Stephen Strasburg were a little wild as 13 of Strasburg’s first 19 pitches were balls, and Santana was slogging through with some shaky control too. Yet after five innings, the score was 1-0 Nationals so while it wasn’t so clean, the results sure were classic.
Then came the bottom of the sixth where everything went to hell. With two runners on, Jason Bay (who else) struck out looking on a pitch that only heard rumors about the strike zone, yet Bay was punched out by Larry Vanover. Now here’s the thing: Since Strasburg’s shaky start, he was getting that outside corner all game (and by corner I mean corner of Rhode Island). So while you might look at the pitch that struck out Bay in a vacuum, remember that consistently bad is still consistent … so swing the bat, Jason.
My issue wasn’t with the pitch itself being a strike, but that Johan Santana wasn’t getting that call, and Ramon Ramirez didn’t get that outside corner in the seventh. And apparently Terry Collins agrees with me, because he got ejected in that seventh inning arguing Vanover’s consistent inconsistencies and his apparent belief that Strasburg is actually a Pittsburgh Penguin. You want to give Strasburg that pitch as if he was Greg Maddux, fine. Give Ramon Ramirez that pitch too.
But in the end, it really didn’t matter. The Mets were lifeless enough at the plate to lose to a team that scored their runs on a wild pitch, a ground out, and two bases loaded walks. And a team which featured Jayson Werth, who spent his time in center field staring down fans who dared chant “Jayson Werthless” at him (like he was going to intimidate anybody), and then moved to right field not realizing that he could be heckled there just as easily. But keep staring those fans down, Jayson. We’re scared.
Unfortunately, he was only the second most overpaid outfielder named Jason in the ballpark (with or without the y). And also unfortunately, the Mets have to continue to slog through without David Wright, whose pinkie is still in a splint. Crises, whether they’re mid-life or early April, are difficult to come to terms with.