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Extra Innings in April

27451132180_318b0f6003_oBesides all things Yoenis Cespedes and the unending delight of learning all the possible medical procedures that can be performed on the human elbow, one of the chief joys of the recent Mets was Bartolo Colon, who spent more innings on the mound over the last three seasons than any other Mets pitcher. Colon, now an Atlanta Brave, returned to New York last night to face his former team. The Mets lost in extra innings, 3-1, in a game that was fun until the starting pitchers left and it revealed its true nature: an extra-inning game in April.

Colon was fun though. A circus strongman hiding inside an old bullfrog, Colon still has the Tantalus fastballs that zip just out of a hitter’s reach. My favorite at-bat ended the second inning. Colon struck out Lucas Duda—who seems to have lost every facial expression but that of someone wondering whether he left the stove on—with a sequence of fastballs that must have been planned from the moment Colon signed with the Braves last winter. Colon had no trouble with his former teammates, allowing just two hits and a walk to a veteran Mets lineup. New York’s lone run came on a fluke home run by Jay Bruce, who poked a shin-high pitch over the wall. The other hit and the walk both came from Yoenis Cespedes, the only puzzle Colon didn’t seem to know how to solve—so he didn’t pitch to him. (Colon did hug Cespedes at first base, to the apparent amusement of Colon and annoyance of Cespedes.) Colon survives, in part, by picking his battles. May we all pitch around the Yoenis Cespedes in our lives.

That’s the joy of watching Bartolo Colon: all the clever tricks that allow a short, old, 300-pound pitcher to evade hitters twenty years his junior. It’s a contrast the Mets and their fans already miss. Their current starters—Syndergaard, deGrom, Harvey, Wheeler, Gsellman—are forceful demigods undone only by a frail tendon in their pitching elbow. The Mets effortlessly produce flame-throwing young men who appear in the Major Leagues, grow their hair out, and learn an impossibly hard slider. They don’t need to be deceptive. It doesn’t matter whether they’re thinking ahead, because the hitters don’t have a chance anyway.

Colon, of course, was a tricky Odysseus to the Mets’ rotation of Achilles, the king who’s traveled the world, disappeared for a few years (perhaps gaining a few magical advantages), and reemerged older but more or less the same. He needs the tricks. Every start is a heist movie. He’s playful but professional—old man Colon never fell into the bored-pitcher trap of throwing sidearm or lobbing an eephus, like an underachieving student who just wants to see what happens. He’s all business when it comes to pitching, even if he never seemed to take hitting all that seriously. The magic can’t last forever for Colon, but that’s been the case for the last eight years, so who knows.

The Mets and I will miss Colon, but their current pitchers provide their own joy too. Jacob deGrom, whose limbs are made of rubber and wire, is the pleasant surprise that keeps surprising. He shut out the Braves for six innings. I have no idea what he puts in his hair, but that’s an achievement in its own right. (How many long-haired men have you met with hair you wouldn’t be grossed out to touch?) Just three years ago, when both were in the minors, the Mets reportedly preferred Rafael Montero to deGrom. Last night’s game shows how they’ve since diverged. Whoops. Matt Harvey pitches today, down one rib since the last time we saw him, and Zack Wheeler follows, the first time the two have been in the rotation together since 2013. The gang’s not quite all here: Steven Matz is on an elbow sabbatical, as is Seth “spin rate” Lugo, and the Mets may never have their five best starting pitchers together. It’s not even clear who the five best pitchers are. But the five they have now should be enough.

Plus the Mets don’t have time to wait for arms to heal. While their pitchers rehabbed, their lineup got old. Bruce is 30; Duda, Cespedes, Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera are 31; Jose Reyes is 34 and has looked it the first two games; Curtis Granderson is 36; David Wright is trapped in the bardo; and even Travis d’Arnaud is 28. The Mets brought the whole team back (except for Bartolo) for another run this season, but come the winter the Mets lineup will take a new form. Bruce, Duda, Walker, Cabrera, Reyes, and Granderson can all become free agents at the end of this season. It’s unlikely they all return for 2018.

Of course, with enough four-hour games like last night’s, this season will feel like an eternity, and may even delay next season infinitely. I’m glad to be in the same time zone: I spent the last two years in London, and if you thought the World Series losses to the Royals were fun, imagine if all the games ended at 5 a.m. (I basically didn’t see Jeurys Familia pitch in a regular season night game for two years.) A game ending at 11 p.m., even an extra-inning loss, seems wonderful to me now.

So do the Mets. Health and age concerns aside, the Mets seem like a postseason contender in April. Hope! Optimism! Who doesn’t need some of that right now?

image via slgckgc

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The Misadventures of a Baseball Blogger

I wrote a piece for Narratively about my time as a Mets blogger. You can read it here. If you are either indecisive or a particularly discerning clicker, here’s a short preview that may sway you:

I wrote a blog about the New York Mets from the end of the 2009 season through the 2012 season. The Mets won 230 games and lost 256 over that span, finishing second-to-last in the division each season, with attendance falling each year despite a new stadium. For those three years, the Mets were bad, if not remarkably so.

Over those three years I spent thousands of hours watching that unremarkably bad baseball team fall down and drop fly balls and strike out. I spent thousands more hours blogging about that team. What possesses someone to spend that much time writing a blog about a bad baseball team? Why was it important for me to tell the world it would be funny to elect Brad Emaus to the All-Star team after an aborted 14-game Mets career, and that fading pitcher John Maine was somehow admirable for trying to overpower hitters even when pitching with a ruined shoulder? Why spend time this way?

If you don’t want to read what I wrote, you should at least look at the illustrations. They are fantastic. I’ve always wanted to know what a cartoon version of me directing Mr. Mets’ eyes to my crotch might look like, and now I do.

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Awakening

Long time, internet. After a brief hibernation and a handful of life changes, we’re back. Two things you should know:

1. My writing about the Mets is on Amazin’ Avenue now. Eric Simon and Co. were kind enough to take me on. Here is what I wrote today, and here I what I wrote two weeks ago. I’m shooting for a post a week, probably on Thursday or Friday.

2. Apologies to anyone who left comments since the redesign. I wasn’t checking, and it looked like the spam filter on the comments is hyper aggressive. To answer all your six-month old questions, here I am.

3. I lied, there’s a third thing. I don’t know what I’m going to do with PatrickFloodBlog.com, but for now I’ll definitely post links to whatever I write anywhere else. I may use this space for non-Mets posts too, which is something I’ve always wanted to try. Basketball and not-sports, most likely * website suddenly devolves into Bruce Springsteen fanpage *

Okay. Hugs and kisses all.

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Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress.com! This is your very first post. Click the Edit link to modify or delete it, or start a new post. If you like, use this post to tell readers why you started this blog and what you plan to do with it.

Happy blogging!

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Brief Links

>A quick couple of Sunday links. I’ll have a few things for y’all this week.

– The Fielding Bible recently posted a new FAQ about Defensive Runs Saved, a defensive statistic available on Fangraphs.com and Baseball-Reference.com. It’s worth taking a look if you’re interested in those sorts of things. (h/t Fangraphs)

– Surprisingly, the best “old” players are not from the steroid era. (Baseball Analysts)

– GIF images of failure. (Memories of Kevin Malone)

– Mets attendance is down, but ratings are up. (Wall Street Journal)

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Sunday Links

>$^%&#$!!! A few Sunday Links:

– From Baseball-Reference Blog: Do batters rush in the All-Star game?

– Joe Posnanski says 400, 500, and 600 home runs means less than it used to.

– I’m linking to this Book Blog post because I asked the original question. If you pay the $3 a month to Bill James’ website, you can bother him with questions that he usually answers; if you’re lucky, sometimes he’ll even answer without snark. That alone is worth the cost of admission, even if he occasionally declares your statements to be nonsense. When I’m too lazy to figure something out on my own, I’ll see if he knows the answer already. Anyway, James’ site is pay-walled so I won’t bother linking to it, but the Book Blog has the question and answer copied, plus some commentary in the . . . comments, I guess.

– Goodbye John Maine. It was fun while it lasted.

– Gary Matthews Jr. thinks he’s going to get a major league job somewhere. GMJ is probably mistaken.

* * *

The children of the sun begin to awake; their bats, not so much.

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Sunday Links

>Mets suddenly don’t look so hot. Who are all these new Braves, anyway? Eric Hinkse? Him? Gregor Blanco’s name sounds like a question . . .

Sports:

– First, plenty of LeBron reactions from all over the interweb, which was interesting mostly as a pop culture moment. In case you missed it, Will Leitch, Joe Posnanski here and here. All the statheads are predicting a 55-63 win team based on those three players and scrubs.

– Joe Janish doesn’t believe Mike Pelfrey is going through a dead arm period, but rather is victim of a subtle mechanical flaw. Pitching seems really, really hard. (Mets Today)

– Tommy Hanson is related to the Hanson brothers. This is true. (TedQuarters)

– How do the Mets starters fit in as #1, #2, #3, #4, #5 starters? (Amazin’ Avenue)

I am the Great Cornholio! Hat tip to everywhere. (The Fightins)

OH MY GOD, ICHIRO! (The Book Blog)

– Capitol Avenue Club wishes everyone a happy V-F day.

Sharks or dinosaurs, and something else:

– Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the Mojoceratops. (New York Times)

– Maybe you just should have made your own lost kitten posters. H/t to Jezebel.

And that’s it for now.

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