Major League Baseball teams tend to be superstitious. It’s a ritual that has been a fabric of baseball since the sport was invented. It diverts attention from the grind of a long season. It could be used for team bonding. Players like to have fun with it more than anything.
Here’s the latest legend: Philadelphia Phillies bench player Brad Miller purchased a large bamboo plant and planted it in the clubhouse in an attempt to change his team’s fortunes. He decided to try something after the Phillies lost seven straight last week to the Washington Nationals and Miami Marlins while being outscored 43-15 in the process that had them at 39-38 for the season. He claimed by touching it that it ended his slump, so he decided to try.
So far, it worked. The Phillies won four straight after Mets closer Edwin Diaz failed to close a 3-1 lead in the ninth inning after Todd Frazier’s two-run home run in that inning gave the Mets a 2-1 lead. Instead, he walked light-hitting Cesar Hernandez that set the stage for Maikel Franco to hit a two-run, game-tying home run. After striking out J.T. Realmuto, he walked Sean Rodriguez and gave up a single to Scott Kingery, setting the stage for Jean Segura to hit the game-winning, three-run home run.
Cute story, but not to ruin a great narrative here, but could it be the Phillies won those four games because of the Mets bullpen than a silly superstition? I hate to be cynical, but I prefer to live in reality than being in fantasy land.
Remember the Mets blew leads of 6-5 (Monday night’s game), 5-2 (Tuesday night’s game) and 4-1 (Wednesday night’s game) and 3-1 lead (Thursday’s game) that turned out to be losses. Even though Steven Matz gave up the 6-5 lead in the first game of the series, Brooks Pounders put the game away for good in the sixth inning when the Phillies lit him up for four runs and four hits in that inning. The bullpen blew those two games when Wilmer Font turned a 5-2 Mets’ lead into a 7-5 Mets’ deficit in the second game of the series and in relief of Jason Vargas in the seventh inning, Seth Lugo made the 4-1 Mets lead disappear by giving up two walks, two hits, two runs that tied the game at 4.
How bad is the Mets bullpen? Forget for a second they blew the Mets’ 20th lead this season or the fact they blew the team’s fourth lead in five games. Mets fans expected them to blow it in the fourth inning on Wednesday night. SportsNet New York’s camera caught Jason Vargas bracing for the worst in the dugout during the seventh inning on Wednesday night. It’s a good bet the Phillies felt good about their chances to tie it and eventually win.
When it turns out to be predictable, no one can say you can’t make this up when the Mets bullpen implodes game after game.
After awhile, it takes a toll on the Mets players and the Mets coaching staff. Maybe Thursday’s loss did the team in for good. It already took a toll on the Mets fans. Which Met reliever can be trusted? Lugo is probably their best reliever, and he could not even get it done in this recent Phillies’ victory. How could it not with the way everything went down for Diaz and the Mets? Maybe Thursday’s loss did the team in for good.
Bad enough the Mets bullpen blew the lead and eventually lost Wednesday night’s game. Having Bruce win the game was a gut punch to the Mets fan base in a sense he did nothing for the Mets in his time there. For him to get the game-winning hit, it’s so cruel for a team and its fanbase. Haven’t the Mets and their fans had enough?
Oh no. The hits keep on coming. For Diaz to blow the Mets’ 3-1 lead and end up seeing the Phillies celebrate in the end, that was painful. One can’t help but feel sorry for a tortured Mets fan base that has had enough.
Diaz’s blown save made this Mets loss the worst of the season considering the Mets could have had a dramatic victory after scuffling all day against Phillies starter Aaron Nola until Frazier hit that home run. They could have celebrated the 1969 team reunion this weekend at Citi Field with good vibes. Instead, they have to deal with what transpired Thursday.
The Mets completed their 82nd game of their season after the four-game sweep. They still have three months to go, so they will torture their fans even more before all this ends. It’s not ending anytime soon.
We said in this site that beleaguered Mets manager Mickey Callaway won’t be fired in season because there’s no way any manager can change the team’s fortunes with every Mets reliever being so awful. If nothing else, at least the Mets manager will be paid to take the losses rather than sit at home and do nothing while being miserable, so he will earn his money.
If the Phillies played the Mets every game, Phillies manager Gabe Kapler would be so happy that he would win games and keep his job. Too bad for him that his team only play the Mets nine more times this year.
Kapler and the Phillies will need more than a bamboo to turn their season around. Their bullpen is as inept as the Mets, and their closer Hector Neris blew a 1-0 lead in Thursday’s game when he gave up a two-run blast to Frazier. Remarkably, Kapler still kept his closer in and the Mets took a 3-1 lead. Somehow, he got smart and took his closer out.
That set the stage for the Phillies comeback.
Bamboo this! The Mets bullpen was why the Phillies swept the Mets than a stupid bamboo.
Now if the Phillies go on a 35-5 run, there’s merit to the bamboo.
Bamboo this! Don’t bet on it.