On and around July 4 every year, there are public service announcements warning people about the dangers of playing with fireworks.
Mets manager Terry Collins, like all Americans, has heard those warnings on several occasions and he surely knows that winding up without any fingers is a real possibility if you choose to ignore those warnings.
Collins must wonder, though, why they never say anything about the people who are forced to play with dangerous fireworks.
Or, to stop the extended analogy, dangerous relief pitchers. Collins plays with fire every single time he raises one of his arms to summon a reliever from the bullpen and he got burnt badly on the Fourth.
The Mets turned a 2-0 lead after six innings into a 9-2 loss because their bullpen is the kind of oppressive horror show that makes you think that the non-relief portions of the Mets roster are going to file their own Declaration of Independence before too much longer. Wednesday's meltdown was as complete as it was predictable, starting with the decision Collins was forced to make in regard to Chris Young.
Young's comeback to the mound is only slightly less remarkable than Johan Santana's and any attempt to argue otherwise is hampered by the fact that Young can't go as deep into games as Santana because opposing lineups figure him out. Anything past five innings is a crap shoot and pushing him seven, as Collins did on Wednesday, is pretty close to holding onto an M-80 until the last second.
Young allowed back-to-back homers to put the Mets behind 3-2, a result that backed up the belief that Young should be showering long before "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" is cued up on the stereo. Criticizing the decision to do it is hard, though, because Collins would have had to turn to Miguel Batista, Tim Byrdak or Jeremy Hefner if he pulled Young and that trio wound up allowing six runs in two innings.
It's an old story at this point in the season, but it is one that isn't all that likely to change. The Mets might shuffle the names here and there -- Hefner out, Pedro Beato in -- but the key performers are who they are and they simply aren't very good.
Maybe it is a good thing in the overall scheme of things. Maybe this bullpen is the thing that keeps us from fully buying into this Mets team and, therefore, protects us from heartache when the whole year comes apart.
That's about as pessimistic a view as one could take toward a baseball team, but an afternoon with the Mets bullpen doesn't give rise to notions of new nations forming thanks to shared ideals and growing into the great powers. It gives rise to thoughts of having a Flushing Tea Party and throwing them all into the drink.
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