The Germans have handy words for lots of complex emotional states, most notably Schadenfreude,
defined for 40-odd years now as “the feeling of pleasure when the
Yankees don't win the World Series.” Do our crafty German friends have
a word for “the giddy high that one doesn't want to hear is in fact not
a high, but merely a return to relatively normal altitude”? If they
don't, perhaps they should. My suggestion is Neuenmetzenabgebenendlichkeit. Rolls off the tongue, don't it? And I thought my seven years of half-assed schoolboy German would never amount to anything.
For yes, our New Mets finally delivered ,
and in storybook fashion, erasing a whole lot of sting from a bad week
just in time for what otherwise would have been a rather tortured home
Truth be told, I didn't think we were out of this one despite the fact that Smoltz was on,
particularly with that evil splitter of his. Floyd looked miserable,
but Reyes, Cairo, Mientkiewicz and Castro kept getting good cuts, and
you could see Beltran and Wright walking away from each at-bat
reviewing and concentrating, like they'd just dealt with a question on
a tough but not impossible midterm. And then there was the X factor of
the pitch count.
Besides (and this is an easy thing to claim after the fact), I knew I
wasn't going to put a foot through the set even if we did lose 1-0. It
was just too good a game, one of those you realize early that you're
lucky to see (and for the first time this year, I did see it) and will talk about for years. In fact, it reminded me of the great Pedro/Clemens matchup 
from 2000: Both pitchers going all the way, 22 strikeouts between them,
Trot Nixon breaking a scoreless tie in the ninth with a home run off
the Rocket. (Emily and I watched that game in a packed Rockaway Beach
bar that regarded every pitch from about the 7th on like part of Mass,
but that's another tale.) That game shows up on ESPN Classic now;
today's may join it someday. (If so, they better show the great
gunfighters' moment where Pedro and Smoltz took amiable, respectful
swipes at each other after Pedro's comebacker.)
Pedro? We'd need a whole lot of new words in a whole lot of languages
to sum up Pedro today. Two hits — Andruw's triple, which was nearly a
shoestring grab by Floyd, and Estrada's chalk-puff double. And after
the double he gave up nothing. Nothing!
(I know you know this, but hey, this one deserves a write-up for the
history books.) Even more impressive, to me, was the killer look in his
eye after the leadoff triple. A little pop-up that Wright made a nice
play on (though Andruw should have scored — he is absolutely hopeless
from the neck up), a strikeout, a harmless flyball. Bang, bang, bang.
When's the last time we had a pitcher who was able to elevate his game
that way? (Leiter was a ferocious competitor, but all too often he
couldn't get out of his own way.)
And then that marvelous 8th inning, which reminded me of the Olerud
grand-slam game against the Braves: all the frustration and tension
flying away as if the home run had yanked it out of the dugout and our
tortured psyches, leaving us all floating blissfully free.
Are we a playoff team? I don't know any more than I did when we were
down 1-0. The difference is I'm no longer worried — about us or the 25
guys who actually have to do the work. They — and we — are gonna be
just fine now. Danke schoen, Pedro und Carlos.