Game 130 // First Inning, Cincinnati // The Mets Are Out of Order

FIRST INNING: METS 0 – 0 REDS

 

It wasn’t so long ago that the Mets were 13-4. 

Then, you go watch them in New York. They lose 7-0. The next day, 11-0. Swept by the Braves. Swept by the Rockies. 

And now, today.

 

 

The first inning began like this:

Nimmo strikes out looking. Flores strikes out. Asdrubal Cabrera slices a ball high in the air down the line, bouncing just fair and off into the stands. Ground-rule double, and Cabrera’s on second base grinding the salt and pepper, smiling, removing his elbow guard. Two outs and Jay Bruce up to the plate.

And Jim Riggleman comes out from the Reds’ dugout to talk to the home plate umpire, the lineup card in hand. Wait—that Jim Riggleman?

 

 

In Chicago, you never quite forget the ghosts of Cubs managerial past

The guy at the helm for the Kerry Wood 20-strikeout game. For the summer of Sammy Sosa, 1998. For the play-in game, the NLDS.

So, Jim Riggleman. Back managing at long last. He consults with the umpire, walks back to the dugout, the umpire checks his card, checks it again, he looks out toward second base…

And he raises his hand into a fist.

Three outs. Inning over.

No one, at all, beyond maybe two men in the Reds’ dugout, with any idea what’s just happened.

 

 

The inning ends and the TV broadcast goes to commercial break without even half of an explanation—unclear whether anyone in the ballpark has been briefed on things or not, with the umpire throwing a surprise fist in the air and the Reds’ seeming to benefit.

Might Jim Riggleman have access to some kind of secret unreleased baseball technology? Hypnotism? A token, out of his back pocket—1 free Automatic Inning Ender?

Then, some information. Without anything else, we know one thing:

The Mets have batted out of order.

 

 

They come back from the break, and the Reds’ TV guys lay out what they think might have happened: Cabrera was meant to bat second, instead he batted third, and so both his at-bat and double are erased.

“This is about as bad as I’ve ever seen it,” they say on the broadcast. “I think I am in the Twilight Zone.”

What happened, at a glance of the disputed lineup card, is that the order should’ve gone like this:

 Nimmo, Cabrera, Flores, Bruce, Gonzalez.

But, the Mets sent up their guys to bat like this:

 Nimmo, Flores, Cabrera, Bruce, Gonzalez.

But instead of Cabrera being called out for batting out of order, and the inning ending, it was Bruce who was called out, with Cabrera’s at-bat erased, and thus the second inning begins with Gonzalez. They think. We all think. And meanwhile Jay Bruce, skipped in the batting order, is cracking a big smile in the dugout with Mickey Callaway, being told exactly what’s just happened.

“We’ve received no explanation as to what’s going on here,” they say on the broadcast.

“I’ve never seen anything like this.”

On Twitter, another explanation:

 

 

And here, explanation number two:

 

 

In one corner, we have Mickey Callaway, running a little league ballgame.

And in the other, Jim Riggleman. Coaching for a team that goes 3-15 to start the year. Waiting. Waiting. Accepting an interim gig.

Then, paying very close attention.

And at the right moment, his one moment, taking a look at his lineup card, noticing something what no one else would’ve. He calmly raises a challenge, wins a small victory, and then—the 10th inning rolls around and you steal a game away from a winning ballclub.

You watch a walk-off. You win by one run.

 

 

Today is the day Jim Riggleman might’ve won himself another chance.

And the day Mickey Callaway just sunk himself into the hot seat.

 

 

And when your Mets, we can no longer deny, are officially out of order.

 

 

 

 

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