I participate in a local home run pool.Â At the start of the season, for an entry fee of $160, one selects eight players who hit 18 or more homers in the previous season, with the proviso that their total 2018 homers sum to less than 210.Â In each month, your top 6 count and the pool returns $750 to the winner.Â The top 6 for the season returns the rest of the entry fees to the top 4 finishers to make the whole thing balance.
Having participated in this pool for years, it is astonishing to me how hard it is to win a month. This year, I figured Iâ€™d break two of my rules to try and break through. One of them was never taking an Atlanta Brave. I like to keep my betting life separate from my rooting life. But this year I couldnâ€™t help myself and took Ronald Acuna Jr on one of my two teams. His 9 homers so far this month top every other batter in the pool by at least 3. Iâ€™m not in first for August, though, because 28% of the teams have RAJ. 95% of teams have the underperforming Aaron Judge, but my real flaw was breaking another rule and taking an ex-Brave: Justin Upton. My brilliance in one area cancelled out by the idiocy of another area. Really â€“ the story of my life.
(I designed the website, which is at www.wongpool.com. If you look carefully at the home page, you might be able to discern my rooting interest.)
Anyway, while I normally shun all things Metropolitan, I am forced this year to coax blasts from Michael Conforto. But not tonight. Tonight is mostly a night to confirm my prejudices, chief among them that the Mets, however much buzz they generate, and however envious I am of their starting rotation, are fundamentally not a formidable team. To think otherwise would be too emotionally scarring.
We started with a rain delay, so the game didnâ€™t start until close to 9 PM. In those circumstances you worry that players with routines will be ill-served, especially starting pitchers. But both Keuchel and Matz started OK. Keuchel had to work around some indifferent catching by Flowers, but survived the first when Conforto failed to homer.
Matz hiccuped first, when Inciarte doubled in JD for the first run of the night in the 2nd. But other than that, nobody reached second base through five innings. But the 6th inning, as you know, has been midnight to Keuchelâ€™s pumpkin. He was not effective in the 6th, but wriggled out of trouble courtesy of a double play and a great no-look running catch from Freddie to end the inning.
That was enough trouble that Newk came on to take the 7th. After two quick outs, Matz got a broken bat flare down the right field line. At this point, for some reason, Snitker pulls Newcomb for Martin. For a minute I thought this was going to be Snitkerâ€™s new bullpen theory â€“ You pitch until you let someone on. But Martin gave up a single (not particularly well played by Camargo or by Duvall) which led to second and third, whereupon another bloop hit gave the Mets a 2-1 lead.
Now it was Mickey Callawayâ€™s turn to make a questionable decision: he pulled Matz for Lugo even though Matz had only given up two hits and had thrown under 80 pitches. But Lugo faced seven batters, each of whom reached first: a Donaldson walk was followed by Duvall, Camargo, Inciarte and Flowers singles gave the lead back to the Braves. Joyce, pinch hitting, got what should have been a single, but, confused over whether the ball was caught, Flowers was forced at second while the fourth run scored. AcuÃ±a got yet another single with an associated RBI. That brought in our old friend AvilÃ¡n, who gave up a single to Albies, driving in the sixth run; at this point the BABIP gods rested, and Freddie hit into a DP to end the inning.
As astonishing as eight straight batters reaching first was, then next thing that happened was even more amazing. Shane Greene threw the 8th inning without a blemish. I know it had to happen eventually, but so does the heat death of the universe â€“ it would still be surprising if it happened this week.
Melancon got an initial out in the ninth but the gods of BABIP stirred once again: four straight singles brought Alonso to the plate where, as Chip no doubt said (I was listening to the Mets broadcast) he represented the go-ahead run at the plate. Camargo botched another DP which would have ended the game, getting no outs (after review) loading the bases. Melancon strikes out Ramos and Blevins is called in for the LOOGY save, striking our Conforto. The Braves win the series with an impending sweep tomorrow — because Mets.
As a rule, any replay that takes longer than 60 seconds to decide, can not possibly present clear evidence to overturn a call on the field. I saw nothing to indicate that shouldâ€™ve been overturned. What a joke.
Are people here going to keep calling him â€œClaudeâ€ or have Camargo boosters seen enough?
I think they made the right call. Camargo started the transfer before he touched the bag, and it was one of the worst transfers ever.
Thank you, JonathanF. You seem like a nice man. I hope you win some money.
It was a tough call, but it shouldnâ€™t have been a tough play. Johan is completely out of sorts and the stakes are too high for him to be finding himself at the MLB level, in my opinion. Bring up anyone from AAA and Iâ€™d expect them to make the 3 plays that ate up Johan tonight.
Wow, fast recap. Thanks, JonathanF.
JC’d – regarding Jerry Blevins, to quote another Jerry: That was one magic LOOGY.
Well written. And quick. No more gambling stories please, you’re not Nicely-Nicely.
Camargo’s glove started to lose control of the ball before his foot touched the bag, it was the correct call.
Thanks Remy. 5 years in this damned pool and I’ve never won a dime.
And you’re right blazon. I’m not Nicely-Nicely. But I did play his sidekick Benny Southstreet in high school.
Thanks for another great recap, JonathanF. How about Ender?!
I second this. Camargo just isnâ€™t good
If you were so inclined you could at this moment in time equate Flowers and Camargo. Public melt down in front of thousands…super zoom lenses rush in to capture the embarrassment, the pain, the blood…Shakespearean you would have to to say.
One is aging and paying that price in a position that can make the body shriek. The other, callow youth, attempting to project insouciance and quite failing.
Their would be successors either not in view or hobbledy-gobbeldy afoot. You make the call.
Maybe Melanin shouldn’t pitch on back-to-back days.
Maybe Melancon shouldn’t pitch on back-to-back days.
Oops. If there’s ever been an inappropriate nickname for someone, that’d be it.
JC’d (kinda old)- AAR- Thanks for clarifying Mac’s list. I couldn’t remember who was on it but it all makes sense yet again.
@5 I couldn’t agree more. He just doesn’t seem to “have it” in any way, shape or form right now. He did get a hit last night but the lack of defense from someone that was so sure with the glove is unreal.
Camargo is really, really bad right now. And, even at his best, definitely not a major-league shortstop.
Hurry back, Dans.
DOB suggested picking up Hechevarria who just got DFAâ€™ed by the Mets. Canâ€™t hit at all but is a competent defensive shortstop.
They could sign him and option Camargo or Ortega.
I forget. What role should a super sub play? Should he provide frequent rest to several position regulars while garnering near regular at bats himself, or should he ride the bench until he loses the consistent productivity he provided during last year’s pennant chase?
Johan disappeared largely when Claude arrived. Given sporadic at bats, Camargo failed miserably.
Those who expect Flowing Hair to swoop in and
Be Simba and ARod rolled into one … well,, may your fantasies come true.
Also, great post per usual, JonathanF, says the curmudgeon.
I know this is an exaggeration, but it sure feels like Hechevarria, even as a total zero with the bat, would represent a one-run-per-game improvement over Camargo right now.
@17 @20 Agree 100%. The defensive upgrade would be worth it
It was a very tough call. I don’t think there was enough direct visual evidence to overturn the call, but based on the visual evidence, he was very likely starting to lose the ball before he hit the bag. Last year, that wouldn’t have been overturned, but I’m glad the umpires are starting to use some common sense in these replay reviews.
Also, as I mentioned last night, the overturn was nothing less than Johan deserved.
Re: late-season glove-first SS acquisitions, I still feel awful for Jack Wilson, who was about to go to the playoffs for the first time in his career before collapsing along with the rest of the 2011 Braves, & booting a double play ball on what became the last game of that cursed season. (Jeff Sullivan wrote about it at the time here.)
Sometimes it seems Camargo makes lazy throws and tires to make easy plays look hard.
Also, this Dansby thing is weird.
@20 Same, same.
Their hands are tied with the lack of the second deadline, but I think itâ€™s important that AA et all try to find an all-glove emergency option for SS. I am wary of Dansbyâ€™s injury and the conversation around it and I would not be surprised if heâ€™s not right again this year.
@ 25, 26 Re: Dansby injury
I was surprised when they indicated he would not be ready to come off of the 10 day IL. I had plantar fasciaitis a few years ago. Based on that, I began to wonder if he had moderate level plantar symptoms and THEN slammed down on his heel.
Mainly to indicate, it sure appears that something more is going on than a soft tissue injury in the heel from a hard landing on a base.
@27 Oy, sorry you went through that. Dansby hiding a nagging injury would be very on brand for him.
Hechavarria may not be a solution as his defense has been in decline. They would need to make room for him, so where would they do that?
A best case outcome would be for them to put Johan through a SS defense bootcamp and move forward with him as the every day SS.
If his bat returns to form, he’s the best we can have short of Dansby’s return.
Iâ€™m not sure what Hechevariaâ€™s contract situation is, but the inability to send prospects to offset salary at this time of year is tough.
But yes, I think we need better shortstop defense until Dansby gets back. Itâ€™s weird to see a player slump in the field, but I feel like thatâ€™s what weâ€™re seeing.
And it was BS to overturn it. I agree with Frenchy; unless there was an angle they had that the broadcast didnâ€™t, it shouldnâ€™t have been overturned.
At 30, If Hechevaria has cleared waivers (which I think was what was indicated) his contract is meaningless to the acquiring club.
Great recap, JonathanF. It’s getting too late for Camargo to get himself straightened out at AAA. I thought they should have done that for him a while ago. They could always bring up Florimon. He’s no great shakes but slugged over .400 his last two times up (SSS) with the Phils. He’s seen action in every season since 2012. Of course, they chose Ortega instead. That probably means Camargo is not going anywhere.
Well, bad news. After coming hot and hitting .500/.478/1.091 with 4 home runs in his first 5 games, Adam Duvall is ice cold. In the 12 games since, he is hitting .122/.200/.220 with one ball leaving the yard. That’s a 5 for 41 stretch with a 16 K to 3 BB ratio. Camargo’s been bad, sure, but statistically, Duvall has been much worse in the month of August.
And here’s another problem:
Charlie Culberson as substitute: .317/.353/.619 with 4 HRs in 68 PAs.
Charlie Culberson as starter: .286/.314/.327 with 0 HRs in 51 PAs.
There was only a 55 OPS spread between starter and substitute last year. He’s become more of what he was described as this year.
Re: Dansby – Can they amputate and replace with robotic appendage and have him back in action in a week??
Well, they’ve been doing that for years with Nick Markakis to where he’s pretty much just a robot now, so who knows.
Boy, that Allard kid sure did have a good night last night. We’re going to miss him more than we think.
@33 – I’ve said before, when he plays, Duvall is a homer a week kind of guy. Too bad he used up a month’s worth the first week.
My goodness. Over the last 30 days, the Braves pen has an ERA of 7.29, with a 1.67 WHIP and a 1.70 K/BB. Naturally, all of those marks are the very worst in all of baseball.
This feels like one of those “Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son” moments.
Did he? 5.2 IP, 4 H, 3 BB, 5 K, 3 ER. He ran into trouble in the 6th as he was into the 90’s on pitch count too. Don’t get me wrong, I’m cheering for the kid, but I didn’t think that he necessarily went out and spun a gem.
And he did it against one of the worst teams in the league, too. His game score was roughly the same as his game score in his first Texas start, when he allowed two runs through 4 1/3 innings against Milwaukee.
Bring up Florimon. He has some pop.
@40 @41 Putting last year’s performance behind him is a good start.
Why do the Braves need HechavarrÃa? They surely have some defensively shortstop in the minors already.
Ozzie’s probably the best shortstop available to the Braves, but who plays second?
44 â€” They donâ€™t. Not in the upper minors anyway.
Bad Julio. Bad Chip, yet again speaking of an opponent’s struggles just before said foe parks a baseball in the water. An unpleasant experience all around, this is.
Here comes the regression we’ve all been expecting from Julio. Still taking 2-3 from the Mets (at worst) is still ok.
Iâ€™m over Camargo. Go get Hechavarria Iâ€™m sick of this clown crap.
Oh look, another pitcher gets a hit against ATL. And camargo blows a bubble while booting it.
Julio stop pitching around Panik when Alonso is on deck.
Julio is not jome.
Itâ€™s not news to anybody here, but man this is what makes Julio so frustrating. When heâ€™s off he is OFF. Bad Julio is real.
To me, itâ€™s what makes him virtually unrosterable in a playoff series. Just canâ€™t take the chance that you get a Bad Julio appearance in a short series.
Wow, Snitker, do you think you waited long enough?
Julio has been really good this year. I guess a bad start like this was bound to happen at some point.
Well, that sucks. Between the walks and glove failure, sure felt like the Mets were trying to let the Braves back in the game.
If, like Chip said, Dansby’s been working out with Wash and the rest of the infielders, why haven’t we seen Dansby in the dugout during games?
Ayyy there you go Joyce!
What the hell is Johan doing?
Wow, AAR with the Phil Collins slumpbuster.
You hate to see it come to this.
Rosario is getting right up my nose. Give him the usual.
Imagine what this game would be like if the Braves pitchers could just get Stroman out.
The Mets’ big second inning and two runs in the fifth was because of the Braves’ inability to get the AL pitcher out.
Mets have gotten 21 hits through 8 innings. We are incredibly lucky to only be down 10 to 3.
Please let this happen.
Even if we donâ€™t complete the comeback, itâ€™s delightful to put a scare in them like this.
Your writeup a fantastic fugue. Mick the Quick Makes Mets the Mutts.
Long-time Mets’ fan here – there’s a particular shuddering sensation I’ve only experienced with certain medical procedures, and also when the Metropolitans try to hold a lead in Atlanta against the Braves. Seth Lugo, formerly LO, now joins the pantheon of Armando Benitez, Kenny Rogers, Jeurys Familia, and countless other meltdown victims. The stadium changes, the song remains the same.
And yet, and yet. Hammerin’ Hank Aaron hit a round-tripper in every game of the 1969 NLCS, and the Amazins’ won in a romp. Must have been emotionally scarring, JonathanF.
Braves pitching gave up… 23 hits last night? Really?
The Mets left 28 men on base last night.
That seems to be impossible in a nine inning game. Since if they left the bases loaded each inning, they’d have left only 27 men on.
EDIT: Checked the ESPN boxscore – it says they left 14 on base. That’s still a lot though.
Guess the MLB app doesn’t dedupe. Nevertheless – Mets batters left an insane number of opportunities on the table.
Looking back at my pre-season forecast…
I donâ€™t like making predictions much beyond W/L, but I like Rogerâ€™s prediction. I think 92-70 will be it. I like Acuna for at least 35 homers.
I do think Julio Teheran will lead the staff in losses, but thatâ€™s because I think Julio will give us the most innings and will also be worth close to 4 bWAR this season. Thereâ€™s my prediction.
Looking good on most of it, but I’m beginning to have doubts about Teheran’s 4 bWAR. I think he’ll make good on the other two, though. His lead on losses is pretty safe, at least.
Seeing the success Philly is having by bringing in Charlie Manuel as hitting coach, shouldn’t we at least find out what Leo Mazzone is up to?
Remy, all about his feet, he has to be off them, he would need a hammock to stay in the dugout. Not a bad idea, perhaps, monarch of all he surveys. Dicey for HR festivities though.
@69: Always good to get the enemy here, AlwaysFlushing. Welcome! And yes… devastating, actually.
Re: ’69 Championship Series. It was indeed emotionally scarring… Braves bats v. Mets arms; the bats came through big-time, yet it didn’t matter!
Baseball breaks your heart, that’s when I found out… and keep “Flushing”, by all means, even if the plumbling never quite drains the whole bowl.
Sorry for the delay. Recap up.
@77 @78 That I had to go back fifty years to feel good about Mets-Braves tells you that one has to have sturdy plumbing to be a Flushing faithful.