The Nationals trailed the Mets 2-0 entering the top of the eighth inning in today’s series finale in Queens. They had a rally brewing against Mets reliever Scott Rice, with runners on first and second thanks to a Steve Lombardozzi single and a Denard Span walk. Werth, 1-for-3 on the day, strode to the plate and did what he normally does: work the count. During the 2012 season, only 12 players saw more than Werth’s average 4.11 pitches per plate appearance. Between 2009-12, only 14 players (min. 1,500 plate appearances) have walked at a higher rate than Werth’s 12.5 percent.
Werth clearly knows what he’s doing at the plate. And when you’re facing a 31-year-old career Minor Leaguer demonstrating a lack of control, you always take. Even if you know he’s going to pump a get-me-over fastball over the heart of the plate, you take. Werth swung, grounding into a rally-killing 6-4-3 double play.
After the game, Werth called that swing “one of the dumber things I’ve done on the field in a while”, per the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore.
“I was caught up in the moment,” Werth said. “Looking back, I was trying to do too much. I was trying to win the game right there. That’s it, really. We can sit here and talk about the situation. I was just trying to do too much. The situation got the best of me. That’s probably one of the dumber things I’ve done on the field in a while. Look no further than right here. We had a chance to win the game. I feel like I pretty much blew it.”
It’s can’t be easy being a Mets fan. Your team plays in the biggest city in America and should, theoretically, have big payrolls and always be in contention. They aren’t, however, partially because of horrendous luck and ill-timed injuries, partially because of poor baseball decisions and partially because the team’s ownership got taken down by a Ponzi scheme that, one would think anyway, sophisticated businessmen would recognize as a Ponzi scheme. We’ll leave that go, though.
What Mets fans are left with are (a) occasional windows of contention, such as we saw in 2014-16; (b) times of frustrating austerity on the part of ownership when, one would hope anyway, some money would be spent; (c) an inordinate focus on tabloidy and scandalous nonsense which just always seems to surround the club; and (c) a lot of disappointment.
You can file this latest bit under any of or many of the above categories, but it is uniquely Mets.
Team president Jeff Wilpon spoke to the press this afternoon about team payroll. In talking about payroll, David Wright‘s salary was included despite the fact that he may never play again and despite the fact that insurance is picking up most of the tab. Wilpon’s comment:
I’m guessing every team has a line item, someplace, about the costs of insurance. They’re businesses after all, and all businesses have to deal with that. They do not talk about it as a barrier to spending more money on players to the press, however, as they likely know that fans want to be told a story of hope and baseball-driven decisions heading into a new season and do not want to hear about all of the reasons the club will not spend any money despite sitting in a huge market.
This doesn’t change a thing about what the Mets were going to do or not do, but it does have the added bonus of making Mets fans roll their eyes and ask themselves what they did to deserve these owners. And that, more than almost anything, is the essence of Mets fandom these days.