Having another episode
Roger Cormier isn't just psyched up for the finales of Severance and Better Call Saul, he's rediscovered the joy of waiting for the next piece of the puzzle
Project ShaqBox trivia: Last night, Max Scherzer allowed one run over seven innings… and the Mets lost. It’s the 12th time in Scherzer’s career that this has happened to him – one or no runs, pitching seven or more innings, and the team went on to lose.
This is among the most classic forms of Metsing, so much so that Tom Glavine had this happen nine times in five years in New York, compared to 15 times in 17 seasons with Atlanta – and it’s not like those teams were noted for their great bullpens.
The single-season record for this kind of performance – again, that’s 7+ IP, 0-1 R, team lost – is seven. Jacob deGrom came close with six in 2018, but that’s not the Mets record, because a Mets hurler is tied for the major league record. Which Met is it, and as a bonus, who’s the only other pitcher with seven of these headknockers in a season?
One Week at a Time
By Roger Cormier
No matter how many times I binge-watch a television show, my subconscious erroneously believes I will feel a dopamine hit of accomplishment. In fact the feeling can only really be described as sweaty. I sat on my ass and spent hours upon hours with this thing, after all. I find that after a few days, the intricate plotlines and exquisite cinematography and funny jokes and character arcs that I appreciated, mostly get lost to memory. It was pretty much an exercise in developing an impressive ass groove on my couch.
(For what it's worth, reading an article or book in one sitting has a similar impact when it comes to memory. The embarrassment sweats, less so.)
Two shows have proved this year that once a week is the best and healthiest way to watch a drama. The first is Severance. Severance bills itself as a dramedy. There's a couple of funny moments but it has too many intense moments for it to legally describe itself as comedic in any percentage of genre. The Apple TV+ show stars Adam Scott, Patricia Arquette, John Turturro, and Christopher Walken among an excellent cast. Scott plays one of the characters who agrees to undergo surgery to "sever" his brain, which allows him to keep his work and home lives completely separate. Hilarity doesn't ensue. Intrigue and murder do. It reminds me of Lost, in its science fiction being easily digestible. In fact, the cultish Lumon Industries, the company the show is based on, has a lot of Dharma Initiative vibes. And Apple, after initially dropping an entire season on people in its very beginning (e.g. For All Mankind season one), decided to go old school and release Severance’s eight episodes one week at a time.
This move was as genius as the iPod. From the beginning, a convenient subreddit dedicated to the show appeared and was the place to go after watching each episode to go over each detail that explained more about Lumon, the outside-of-work identity of one of the characters, and just some fun details my silly human brain didn't track. Had all eight episodes been released into the wild at once, I would have only checked the subreddit after watching all eight, when enough of Lumon's secrets were revealed to determine what I think of them, and the aforementioned character's true ID was revealed. Where's the fun in that? And I would not have spent a week thinking about the show during my idle moments, instead of thinking about how fucked the real world is.
The sixth and final season of Better Call Saul is a similar experience. It's a 13-episode farewell collection that airs on AMC and AMC Plus once a week, every Monday, with the added wrinkle of a six-week delay between episodes seven and eight, due to star Bob Odenkirk suffering a near-fatal heart attack on set. Another intriguing difference is that the Breaking Bad prequel, as pointed out on the subreddit, seemingly ended with episode nine. And episode 10 had a tidy finish to it. But it's as if the main character, Saul Goodman, doesn't know the show is over. That's a theory I read on the show's subreddit, and it enriches the experience of watching the final episodes.
I can't wait to see what happens next, because there's the rare but thrilling vibe that literally anything can happen on the show now, letting theories run wild. Plus, because it's in the Breaking Bad universe and has a slew of episodes of its own, there are really cool callbacks and references to previous episodes that are discovered and can be appreciated that I otherwise would have missed if I didn't give myself the time to seek them out. Cool details like the fact that Saul saw his ad in color, while his world was all in black and white, is one I tend to miss because I get so caught up in the show. The subreddit clued me in, but I definitely would have spotted it if I gave it a rewatch during the week before the next episode aired.
The series finale is Monday. I can't wait, and kind of wish there was more time to think about and live in its universe.
Trivia answer: In 1963, Roger Craig set a record that stands to this day, pitching seven games for the Mets in which he went at least seven innings, allowed one or no runs, and the Mets lost anyway.
Only one other pitcher has had seven of these games in a season, and it was Craig’s ex-Dodgers teammate Don Drysdale, the very next year. Drysdale was 18-16 with a 2.18 ERA that year, and had the Dodgers hit for him, he might have been up for the Cy Young, then a major league award. Instead, it went to Dean Chance of the Angels, as he went 20-9, 1.65. Chance went on to pitch three games for the Mets in 1970, for what it’s worth.
Craig’s 1963 was not nearly as palatable as Drysdale’s 1964. Instead, he racked up a 5-22 record, with a 3.78 ERA that wasn’t necessarily good for that era, but certainly wasn’t set-futility-records bad… unless you were on the Mets.
Over a stretch of 12 appearances (10 starts), from June 22 through August 4, Craig held opponents to a .241/.280/.370 line. That’s a month of basically making the National League look like 2022 Eduardo Escobar. Craig pitched six complete games during this stretch. He was 0-10 – and the Mets lost the other two games, too. Eight of the 36 runs that Craig allowed over these dozen games, naturally, were unearned. The 1962 Mets might have the record for the most losses in a season, but there’s a strong case to be made that the 1963 team was really worse. Craig could sure argue it.