Friday, August 28, 2009

Mets vs. Cubs

I don't think I've ever been so unexcited about going to a major league baseball game in my life, at least not in recent memory.

Sure, some of it was the cool, gray weather. Some because I went into the office for three boring hours just to come back home. Mostly though, it was the incredible failures of the Mets (58-70, 16.5 games out of first place) and Cubs (63-62, 9 games out), two teams expected to contend for their division and more this year, after disappointing ends to last season.

For the Mets, the Great Suck of 2009 is shocking but understandable. Look at who they trotted out on the last Friday of August, compared to the Opening Day lineup (by position, not batting order ... obviously Jose Reyes would be leadoff):

  • Pagan, CF (Beltran. Out since June 22 with bone bruise in right knee)
  • Castillo, 2B (same.)
  • Murphy, 1B (Delgado. Out since May 11 with hip problems, then strained his oblique during rehab)
  • Franceour, RF (Ryan Church. Traded July 10 to Atlanta for ... Jeff Franceour)
  • Tatis, 3B (David Wright. Hit in the head by a Matt Cain fastball on Aug. 16, still on DL ... warning, link has pic of Wright getting hit)
  • Santos, C (Brian Schneider. Still on the roster, but has only caught 47 games this year vs. 110 last year.)
  • Sullivan, LF (Murphy. Moved to first after Delgado's injury.)
  • Valdez, SS (Reyes. Out since May 21 with a hamstring tear and calf tendinitis)
  • Misch, P (Johan Santana. Out for season since Aug. 21 with shoulder injury)
Does anyone remember this man? Anybody? (photo taken Spring Training 2007)

Result: one of nine the same, with up to five season-ending injuries. Just insane. I haven't mentioned pitchers like J.J. Putz and Oliver Perez and John Maine who have missed significant time. No doubt wherever he is, Mr Met is crying.

This is close as I could come to an unhappy Mr. Met.

For comparison, the Cubs had six guys exactly where they were on Opening Day (Suckyano, D-Lee, Bradley, Ramirez, Soto, The Riot) with two others available and active (Zambrano and Fukudome).

This was in many respects an evenly matched game. Both teams had 32 at-bats. Both pitchers finished seven innings. There was a tie score for most of the game, and you never felt either team had an advantage (even with the four-run outburst in the 8th, the Mets still had the combustible combo of Marmol and Gregg in the Cubs pen). Both left seven men on base, generally failing to seize opportunities.

The deciding factor appeared to be the lethargy of the Cubs. While the Mets have struggled with a makeshift lineup decimated by injuries to their stars, the Cubs have mostly just flat out under-performed (yes I know there have been injuries too ... but not as long-lasting and devastating as the Mets).

In the 2nd inning, Omir Santos lofted a shot into the Bermuda's triangle of shallow right. Lee and Baker went out, and Milton Bradley came in. Bradley got leather on it, but showed no effort or hustle. I scored it a hit for Santos (as did the official scorer) but Bradley could have made it a tougher call or even an out.

And in the top of the 8th, ex-Cub Angel Pagan hit a shot into the gap. Soriano casually jogged over and half-heartedly waved at the ball as it went under his glove. One, he could have gotten there a little sooner and tried to make a play with his team down one. Two, he should have at least picked it up on the hop, not let it roll past him. Pagan had a double either way, so no error was charged. But it was a lackluster, lazy play that defines the 2009 Cubs. Of course, I haven't mentioned his actual error, in the 4th, when a standard pop fly hit off his glove.

But hey, Suckyano did his best Sammy impersonation by making up for it all with a three-run homer in the 8th. Marmol got the save, fans got to sing "Go Cubs Go," and TM and I saw our first Cubs win live in almost a year. So yay for Cub fans.

Mr. Met in happier times.

The scorecard: (click for larger)

The official wrap and box score here. Note to 83F: Fuld started, but didn't do anything at the plate or in the field.

1 comment:

Scott Mortimer said...

"Soriano casually jogged over and half-heartedly waved at the ball as it went under his glove." I would file this under "Meets expectations."

Thanks for the info on Fuld! Hopefully the New Hampshire native (and Stanford alum) gets more playing time in September.