The Rivalry Is Alive And Well

Well ESPN certainly got its money’s worth tonight.

They got Max Scherzer stomping around like a bull for the first five batters of the game, striking them out and pitching with a pace that said “I got somewhere to be.” They also got the continued metamorphosis of Kyle Schwarber from .200 hitter to Larry Jones, as Max challenged him on a high fastball and he scalded it for a 1-0 lead. After the Mets took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the 2nd thanks in part to Luis Guillorme’s RBI double, Schwarber would homer again in the fourth as Max, obviously being careful, threw one around his ankles. But it didn’t matter. I’m convinced that Schwarber could wear a Hanwha Eagles uniform and homer off Jesus Christ himself if He wore a Mets uniform.

But ESPN also got the best team in the National League doin’ its thang, as Dom Smith immediately responded to Schwarber’s second homer by doubling in a run in the bottom of the 4th to make it 3-3. After that, they got the only narrative that really matters: The Mets newfound love affair with making contact combined with the the Phillies pitching and defense. The Mets loaded the bases off starter Zach Eflin with a Francisco Lindor single, a Jeff McNeil double, and an intentional walk to Pete Alonso. So in comes Jose Alvarado and his north of four ERA. Before striking out Eduardo Escobar, he crossed up JT Realmuto on a pitch that went off his glove and to the backstop to give the Mets a 4-3 lead. Then came a rematch against Smith, who had already had two hits on the night.

Suck it, Jose.

Scherzer gave up a dinger to Bryce Harper in the 6th to make it 6-4 (I’m sure that made Max happy to give up a dinger to his former teammate), but after Starling Marte helped out Joely Rodriguez get through the 7th with a diving catch, he helped break the game open in the 7th with a two run single to make it 9-4 and put away the Phillies. But because this was the Phillies and the Mets, there was one more order of business to take care of:

I mean, don’t the Phillies know that this isn’t the same franchise that lets themselves get hit by every pitch ever thrown without retaliating? Hell, we have a Designated Avenger on the team now. Let me introduce Philadelphia to the one, the only, Yoan Lopez.

That was the second inside pitch to Schwarber, which prompted warnings to both benches. But as someone named Lance Conrad once said: Only a fool would underestimate a man who has nothing to lose.

Now in 20 years, the legend will grow to the point where the story told will involve Lopez hitting Alec Bohm with a 105 miles per hour Ben Joyce fastball, staring at Jerry Meals, spitting and saying “That’s for Noah Syndergaard! What the f**k you gonna do?” And Meals was so scared to eject him at that point, he just let it be. But truth be told, Lopez was wild all inning, and I think that’s why Lopez was spared ejection. But no matter to Nolan Arenado, who is currently on an airplane to New York to fight Lopez at three in the morning.

One Johan Camargo home run later, the game had ended with another Mets series win, their 7th straight. Now comes the first really interesting decision in the Billy Eppler/Buck Showalter era: Who do they cut from the roster when the limit goes down from 28 to 26. Yoan Lopez, according to Mike Puma of the Post, is gone. Dom Smith was a candidate to be sent down because he still has an option, but I’m sure he opened some eyes with his four hits tonight. Robinson Cano seems like an easy choice due to his lack of production. But then it gets tricky. Starling Marte had said that one of the reasons he came to New York was to play with Cano. Then there’s these bites from Lindor:

So do you go with production? Or do you go with clubhouse harmony, while still hoping for production? Buck already hinted that having minor league options would be a factor. It will be extremely interesting to see what the Mets go with. I’m on the side of letting Cano go free. But I’m less interested in my take on this than what the Mets actually do. And by every indication that’s out there, I have a feeling the Mets will either stick with Cano and send down someone with an option, or have their MRI machines look really, really hard for a reason to put someone on the injured list. Perhaps a speck of dust where a hamstring usually is?

These things always seem to find a way to work themselves out, but I think the Mets are surprised that the gods of the injured list haven’t turned their attention to Flushing yet. So let’s see what the Mets decide. Popcorn ready.

Today’s Hate List

Regarding Francisco Lindor being mic’d up: I actually thought Lindor provided good insight into the ins and outs of the game while he was in the field chatting with the announcers in the top of the 3rd inning. Explaining what he was talling his fielders, and why he was telling them these things He also threw in a joke about Max Scherzer for good measure, and I was most impressed at him going out of his way to say “please” to the bat boy in the on-deck circle when he asked for a favor.

Lindor giving insight about the game is exactly the right use of this kind of technology. It’s when the announcers start asking questions like “Hey Francisco, what’s your favorite Taylor Swift track from 1989?” where they lose me. You have the dopey Rodriguez Cast for that nonsense. Also, they probably stuck too long with Lindor, keeping him on mic for the bottom of the third. While they had to good sense to cut themselves off while Lindor was batting, they went back to him in the dugout where he either didn’t want to chat too much with his teammates in fear that they would say something embarrassing, or he had just had enough. ESPN obviously goes by the dynamic of “if less is more, think how much more “more” would be.” It works for them, I guess. But they just seemed like the houseguest that had dinner but insisted in lighting up a stogie for the west coast game when the host, Lindor in this case, just wanted to go to bed.

So while I’m happy that ESPN has a pretty good Sunday Night Baseball crew for the first time in about … well, pick the amount of years that you’re comfortable with, they should learn when less is more, and when more is more.