It’s Labor Day and the Mets are five games up in the NL East. Which is a very good thing although I will no doubt be adding blood pressure pills to my medicine cabinet before Halloween. Buy hey, that’s a small price to pay (Literally. I have good medical benefits.) for playing “meaningful games” in September for the first time in seven years that have seemed more like seventeen.
Watching David Wright pump his first and yell something like “‘Freakin’ yeah!” after sliding under the tag to give the Mets the lead in today’s stirring comeback over the Nationals in DC was a sight to behold. It was also terrifying because I thought Wright may have pulled his back out or torn his rotator cuff, knowing the Mets luck, or lack thereof. But Wright and the Mets survived unscathed as their leaky bullpen somehow held on over the last three innings.
After this weekend’s roller coaster ride in Miami — agonizing blown lead losses on Friday and Sunday, courtesy of said bullpen, had me nostalgic, in a masochistic way, for 2007. Bartolo Colon’s bravura performance on Saturday — where did his recent streak of mastery come from as he looked spent just a few weeks ago? — was the only thing that kept me from tossing my iPhone into the Atlantic Ocean. Thankfully, I was out of town and didn’t actually sit in front of the tube watching those bookend debacles — although watching a team collapse via ESPN Gamecast can be excruciating. Next pitch. Next pitch. Next pitch. Come on already!! 12th pitch of the at bat. Fly ball to left. Runner scores from third. Game over. Shiiiiiiiiiit!!!!
And there’s Matt Harvey. I don’t blame the whole innings limit on him. It’s an indictment of the state of pitching in baseball today. But it is what it is. And he really needs to decide if he wants to go and pitch nine every five days, as he seemed inclined to do not too long ago, or listen to his insufferable agent and shut himself down for the rest of the season, playoffs be damned. So today he goes to The Players Tribune, which seems to be a very practical platform for guys like Harvey who are not very adept at PR and have a tendency to wander off the reservation when surrounded by media, and does an about-face of sorts. Of course I’ll pitch in the playoffs. Forget what I said the other. To his credit, Mets manager Terry Collins said actions speak louder than words, or something to that extent. Which his way of telling Harvey, shut up and go out and pitch your ass off on Tuesday against the Nats. There’s a shitload of pressure on this guy right now. Let’s see how much he likes it.
Of course, all this talk about playoffs may seem a little premature, especially if you’re a Mets fan with an elephant’s memory, which is basically 99% of Mets fans. The rest are under eight years of age and either cannot remember enough of the bad years or have more important things to do than lose sleep over a bunch of grown men in uniforms. The offense remains strong (please Mr. Wilpon, sign Cespedes even though I know you can’t possibly spend the money even after refinancing debt on Citi Field for the umpteenth time!) but the vaunted pitching staff is starting to teeter a bit. deGrom and Syndergaard seem to wearing down and their middle inning relief is anything but.
And then there’s Jon Niese, the anti-Bartolo, who has returned to his familiar habit of melting down every fifth or sixth day. Some guys are on innings count, Niese is on a runs count — he is required to give up five runs in the third or fourth inning of every start. Or maybe it just seems that way because that’s what he’s done in his last three starts. He was pitching so well earlier this summer, at least until the Mets started scoring runs for him. Then he fell apart. Go figure. I guarantee you that if the Mets don’t win the NL East, one of the enduring images haunting you until the end of time will be the heavily bearded lefty shaking his head in exasperation after giving up a game crushing, season imploding three run dinger to some bench warmer on the sorry-ass Braves or Phillies.
But never mind that. Let’s think happy thoughts. When is Bartolo’s next start?