PHILADELPHIA – The Weather Channel says there will be “abundant sun” Thursday, the temperature hovering at 66 degrees with an outside possibility of ticking 70. Rain? Only a 6 percent chance. It will be one of those baseball afternoons that will give you the urge to channel Ernie Banks if you’re lucky enough to get a ticket:
“Let’s play two.”
If you’re more fortunate, the Mets play a little differently than they did in their final test out of town, a 8-2 loss to the Phillies Wednesday afternoon, or so you may have some other familiar phraseology on the tip of your tongue.
“We try to beat the traffic on the lie,” is what jumps to mind.
“Isn’t anyone able to play this game?” it’s another.
“BOOOOOOOOO !!!” it’s an old reliable standby.
OK, OK, OK. It’s three games. It’s a series. There’s a lot of ballgame, a lot of seasons, 159 games and counting. The 1969 Mets started their season 2-5 and 3-7 and 6-11. The 1986 Mets began their 2-3 season. The beginning of April is to work out, set the tone, set in season. Check. Check. Check. Check.
You should always be a little worried about what you’ve seen these first three games. You should always hope that the version of the Mets wearing home runs (perhaps a black jersey back before too long) will start to look substantially different from 1:10 or Thursday afternoon, when Taijuan Walker fixes the Marlins ’Corey Dickerson and the Mets play in front of Citi Field witnesses for the first time in 18 months.
Because it wasn’t beautiful.
Where to start? Well, the bullpen misfortunes continued Thursday. The Mets were already standing with their heels red on the cliff when Jacob Barnes trotted out of David Peterson’s relief pen. Barnes tried to pass a fastball past JT Realmuto in his first pitch as Met and Realmuto hit one in the general direction of the William Penn Building.
Peterson had a memorable start to his sophomore year, his ERA for the season sitting at 108.0 ordering four batters in the game. Michael Conforto, presumably on a push to a nine-figure deal, blocked nine runners, giving them 16 LOBs in the Mets ’first three games, an almost absurd total. Director Luis Rojas chairs Jeff McNeil for no good reason.
Aaron Nola, Philly’s ace, prayed for all the Mets to kick him out one day when he had just gotten his job in “C”.
The Mets said, “No, thank you.” We are good. “
It was full of misery and the crowd of 10,807 in Citizens Bank Park took a lot of fun. The Phillies seemed like a reflection most of the spring, looking like one of the weirdest teams to come north, but they were going through their 5-1 opening streak against the Braves and Mets triples. division champions and the presumption. 1 challenge.
And don’t think that the Phillies didn’t notice this disrespectful boy order: They threw a double-shot in six runs in the sixth. It allowed him to score an escape from Dellin Betances. Betances was the Mets ’sixth relief of the season; all six runs rendered (Joey Lucchesi finally snatched that horrible strip with two clean entries).
All this will accompany the Mets at home.
At least we know with a reasonable amount of certainty that the weather will be fine. After a year in which the term “abundance of prudence” has been a mantra for dealing with the coronavirus leaflet, “abundant sun” is certainly a welcome change of pace.
Now the Mets have to go it alone with the script.
“See the resistance, see the guys beating,” Rojas said, looking in the dark for nice things to say about his team (and, really, anyone with the Mets should show them old tapes from Rich Kotite press conferences; it seems to be very impractical. It is not a good thing). “I see guys doing the same thing, always pushing it.”
Trying it is good. The effort is commendable. But the Mets have promised more than we’ve seen so far, in word and deed. Maybe it’s really just the beginning of April product. Maybe they’ll go well once they touch on their routines. Until we see it, there will be questions that will continue to be asked. From an abundance of prudence.