Independence Day is a day for great traditions. Backyard barbecues, Twilight Zone marathons, and baseball. But I find it distressing that, with no warning, SNY decided that instead of baseball, they were instead going to air the Twilight Zone marathon.
Oh, that was a baseball game on SNY? Yeah, you could have fooled me. Because that was nothing short of bizarre that we witnessed. And a good portion of the bizarre was Keith Hernandez in the booth. He's been back in the booth for just a few days and he's already crying out for a vacation. Great job by Gary Cohen saving his butt when the conversation turned to a player who cut himself with a knife while doing dishes, and Keith opined that washing knives was not a man's job. Cohen then turned the Volvo around with a simple "let's not go any further" (paraphrased). To be fair, I think the half a million watching this game screamed "Keith, NO!" at the television right as Gary made the save.
And note that this was at the beginning of the game. By the end, after being hungry for the last five innings (could no one bring him food?) and being caught drinking coffee out of miniature Cuppy near the end, Keith was winded from the caffeine high.
The game itself was odd from the start, even if it seemed benign compared to the wacko events of extra innings. Who could forget the fifth inning bunt double for Gerardo Parra which led to Wil Nieves' two run single to give the Diamondbacks their regulation runs? Or the fact that the Mets offense emanated from a groundout and a run scoring single for Dillon Gee, who seemingly knew that this was a game where he needed to curse Jobu and do this himself. But it wasn't until extra innings that things got a little insane.
I was surprised to find the volume of Kenny Rogers impersonators that are available for your event. Unfortunately, the best Kenny Rogers impression I've seen lately was in the 13th inning, where David Aardsma loaded the bases and then walked Cody Ross to bring home the go ahead run. Amazingly, the Mets got out of the inning with no other damage as they got a double play thanks to runner's interference. Even more amazingly, Anthony Recker kept the game going in the bottom of the 13th with a two out solo HR to make it 3-3. Not quite as amazingly, it was off of Heath Bell.
Brandon Lyon, in what will probably prove to be his final appearance as a Met, started the 14th after finishing the 13th. He gave up a ground ball through the right side to lead off the inning, then after two outs sent the runner to third, a bloop hit by Martin Prado to give the Snakes the lead again. It's a bit of cruel irony that Lyon was DFA'd after the game, his last offense against the Mets a performance that wasn't entirely his fault. But you know what was really cruel about Lyon? The rest of his Mets career. With Greg Burke itching to come back up after spending his mandatory ten days in Vegas before being eligible to come back up, Lyon was on the firing line. And despite the fact that his final outing was equal parts junk and bad luck, the rest of his outings earned his designation for assignment. So adios, Brandon. Don't let the Shake Shack burgers hit you on the way out as fans try to throw them at you. The easy answer would have been to send the never used Gonzalez Germen back down (read this if you want to understand why he's never been used), but he still might be next to go, and soon. But more on that later.
In the 14th, Ross struck again by diving to rob Jordany Valdespin of a hit. And that's probably when I thought that the "fireworks" were over. Not so. Kirk Nieuwenhuis sent Western Civilization on another decline with a home run to left center that just made it over the fence and on to the party deck. During a good year, I would have probably thought that this was the game that proved that we had something special. This year? My thought was "Man, people have to get to their barbecues, and those poor kids waiting to run the bases outside Citi Field ... and if the Mets play too many more innings they might have to run the bases in the actual game!" This is what goes on in my head.
Sure enough, the overextended Scott Rice came in the game, got the first two outs, then gave up three straight hits to give the Diamondbacks the lead for the third straight extra inning. The Mets heroes during the last two innings couldn't get it done in the bottom of the 15th as Nieuwenhuis left the tying and winning runs in scoring position for the last out of a 5-4 Mets loss. And if you want to know why I can't get excited when this team has a run of 8-4, it's games like this ... the ones that test a team's entire roster ... a team's depth. All credit in the world due to the Mets for making it to 15 innings after three games that featured either extra innings or long rain delays. But when it comes down to an overused Scott Rice being the difference between a win and a loss, and an extra pitcher that's only up to fill a roster spot because the team is waiting for Greg Burke to come back up, and that roster filler isn't even the first one to go, that's the razor thin difference between wins and losses that pile up over a 162 game season.
Again, due credit to the Mets. They're a tired bunch. And Milwaukee to San Francisco to Pittsburgh is a dumb road trip so it isn't going to get any easier. But as Bob Ojeda said (screamed) post game: nobody cares that you're tired, least of all the Brewers, Giants, and Pirates. (He kind of sounded like a communications professor I had in college: "Nobody cares about you, and I'm not your mother.") So the Mets have no real choice but to find a way to suck it up before this season takes the final dive into irrelevance. (Frankly, as much as I worry about the physical well being of the Mets in this situation, I worry more about the mental being of one Keith Hernandez, if Thursday's game was any indication.)
But there will be reinforcements on the way. Burke for Lyon is addition by subtraction. But there's one more change to talk about ...
Source says Ike Davis returning to #Mets. More coming to ESPN New York:
— Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN) July 5, 2013
Wait a minute! That's Ike Davis' music!!!
This might be the transaction that sends Germen down. I mean, if you're not going to use the guy, then beef up the bench, right? Unless you want to send Valdespin down once and for all and make sure you have arms for the road trip after the insane series against Arizona. As for the Ike Davis/Josh Satin debate, you can't bring Davis up if he's not going to play. Satin has had a good run, but is it sustainable? And who's ceiling is higher? Davis has to earn back some trust here with the fans, for sure. Davis is like Jackson Galaxy when he first meets one of his "cats from hell", and the cat is backed into a corner swiping at him. But Davis is going to have to take the scratches before he can tame the beast that is the fan base that's sick of his antics, and frankly would rather see Satin play first base right now.
As for Satin, there's obviously a place for him. A first baseman against some tough lefties and a pinch hitter. And maybe their everyday first baseman the rest of the year of Ike comes up and fails to do simple things like drive the ball into the gap and dress himself. This might be Ike's last chance to prove that he's worthy of your love, and worthy of being a first round draft pick who came up to people raving about his batting eye and fielding before deciding that he was going to become Dave Kingman. But for the good of the future of the Mets, he needs to have this last chance.