Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

What In The Hell Is Happening In The NL?

Photo: Steven Ryan (Getty)

I am surprised that Comrade Roth hasn’t mentioned this a couple of hundred times because as a Mets fan he is by definition skin-rash-level annoying, but there’s this: The Mets are now in the National League wild card mosh pit.

This is a hilarious outrage, as is obvious to anyone who has paid attention to them at least cursorily. People who follow them religiously should of course be propelled into a sun (and no, not necessarily this one), but it hasn’t been that long since we found out that Jason Vargas offered to fight a reporter, that Brodie Van Wagenen throws furniture, and that the Mets are (again/still/persistently) a hot, runny mess.

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But that was before they went 11-1 and bullied their way into wild card contention. And that was right after another previously hideous team, the San Francisco Giants, went 19-5 to move into wild card contention. The Nationals made a run back into the picture. And we are still waiting for the Cincinnati Reds to stop flexin’ and fightin’ and better represent their Pythagorean number and get into wild card contention as well. The NL wild card is now a participation trophy, and given the participants, it’s all we deserve.

True, the Football Is Back sheep have regathered to annoy thinking people, Ezekiel Elliott is holding out until Tom Landry rises from his grave, Antonio Brown’s feet have been reclassified as hooves, Tom Brady finally got his merit raise, and Comrade Magary is nearly at the halfway point of his NFL Entropy, Death, and Decay Review. Away from all the shrieking of the football-is-heroin crowd, this National League has been quietly making a mockery of itself, one team at a time. And that is good.

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Based on the teams’ 2019 bodies of work (body of works?), there should be no wild card qualifier or Central Division winner. On expected wins, Arizona (currently ninth overall) is a playoff team and the Reds (currently 11th) are a half-game out. The Giants diverted their clean-out-the-stables plan just before the trade deadline but still gutted half their bullpen, have lost seven of their past 11 games and went from 3.5 games out to 3.5 games out. Cubs fans hate the Cubs, Nationals fans hate the Nationals, Phillies fans are wondering when the Bryce Harper signing is going to kick in, Brewers fans have already transitioned back to being Packers fans, Reds fans are just waiting for August 23 and the next Pirates series, and Cardinals fans are ... well, never mind. Cardinals fans are the antimatter of sports.

In sum, none of these teams deserve any chance to play a 163rd game, and the Mets are merely the latest example. Eleven teams have made their fan bases feel foolish and gullible and by any measure and with any luck will continue to do so. Baseball, which has been taking its annual cultural beating, is responding with the real reason baseball must live forever: because it is institutionalized misery for all involved. Even the Dodgers, who are on pace to finish 106-56, haven’t done enough because 1988 reaches out from the grave to grab at their bullpen every day. Every team stinks, every team has dreams of grandeur, and the only people who aren’t disappointed are Pirates fans and Marlins fans. They had the good sense to pave over their hopes and put a JiffyLube where they stood in April.

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Put another way, here’s the NL as of today:

Dodgers: Scared by their own bullpen.

Braves: So scared by their own bullpen that they picked up all of Mark Melancon’s remaining contract. For next year, too.

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Cubs: Firing Joe Maddon every other loss.

Phillies: Pissed because they signed Harper, can only beat the Mets, and can’t beat the Marlins.

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Nationals: Pissed because they lost Harper, can’t beat the Mets and can only beat the Marlins.

Cardinals: Always there without ever really being there.

Brewers: Christian Yelich could hit 74 homers and Milwaukee would still underachieve.

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Mets: Satan will be back to collect soon enough.

Diamondbacks: Dumped Zack Greinke but haven’t cratered yet.

Giants: Three seasons—35-47, 19-5, 2-5. Plus their best asset, Madison Bumgarner, hit the market in the only year in recent memory in which general managers hated starting pitchers.

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Reds: They’ll always have Amir Garrett and Derek Dietrich’s biceps, plus a run differential that spits on the value of run differential.

Rockies and Padres: 17-39 since the start of July. Please reference Bill Parcells.

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And yet here we are anyway. Five of these teams will play in October, and even after you acknowledge that Dodgers and Braves fans are being candypants about their own teams, teams 3 through 13 have every reason to alternately hope and despair. The Phillies and Nats are on pace to make the playoffs with the worst league wild card records ever (the Twins got in two years ago at 85-77, and were eradicated immediately by Quality Control), and they’ll have both overachieved to do that. This is probably just a bad year wild-card-wise and not to be interpreted as a cry for fewer wild cards, or more (Jesus dealing blackjack, anything but that!), but it is in keeping with the trade deadline, robot umpires, non-robot umpires, Rob Manfred explaining nearly anything and the Detroit Tigers.

And as for you, Comrade Roth, you have no business hoping at all. This ends badly because bad ends are what define you. You aren’t of the Mets, you ARE the Mets. Start day-drinking. It dulls the pain without ever curing it.

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Ray Ratto just realized this is just a moron’s version of Why Your Team Sucks, and now he’s going to start day-drinking.

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