One so rarely gets exactly what one wishes for in these Subway Series games that when my unspoken request was granted, I should've been surprised. But I wasn't, considering the nature of the request.
There's Looper, struggling his Braden off, doing his best to make a save situation out of a four-run lead (closers, schmosers, I tell you what). There's the four-pitch walk. And there he is, still struggling with T. Martinez. And I thought, just give up a two-run homer here. You'll be up 6-4 but the bases will be clear and you won't have one of those horrendous Yankee carousels spinning all around you.
So Tino Martinez hit a two-run homer and made it 6-4. I got what I asked for. Why didn't that make me feel any better?
Oh right, this is Us and Them, again. Nothing is ever that simple when its Push vs. Shove. I'm not sure which one we are, but it's usually the less successful of the pair. I've been listening to the likes of Tim McCarver tell me for more than twenty years that a pitcher with a big lead is better off giving up a home run rather than putting runner after runner on base. It clears his head or something. It short-circuits the opposing team's momentum. Remember earlier this season the Mets were down four runs in the ninth in Philly and Cliff hit a three-run homer? That was considered bad form on his part because now that the Mets had edged to within one run, they had somehow let the Phillies off the hook.
Doesn't work that way with the Yankees, does it? Instead of Looper dancing through raindrops with a four-run lead and maybe first and second, he's got a two-run lead and that whole crew waiting in the wings to shove my wish straight up my cranial cavity. I swear if it weren't for the fact that this really does seem to be the year of the Yankee Collaps…I mean they're not quite doing as well as expected and that's the only reason they didn't pounce on him like the motherfuckers we know they are and can be when they truly focus on the task at hand.
How about them New Mets? Watching MSG's replay of the sweep game from July 4, 2004, I was stunned — stunned! — at how many Old Mets I'd forgotten were here less than 365 days ago. They're already like fifth cousins in the family album. Our heroes, mainstays and supporting players that weekend included people named Wigginton, Hidalgo, Spencer, Phillips, McEwing, Moreno, Bottalico and Parra to say nothing of the lingering Leiters, Francos and Zeiles. Where'd they all go? These guys beat the Yankees three straight. Wha' hoppin'?
Oh yeah, the rest of 2004. Well, never mind them except that we wished to replace that cast and our wish came true. We got New Mets out the yin-yang, and many of them made good things happen Friday night. Pedro needs no introduction. Our centerfielder reminded me of the guy we signed in January. Mientkiewicz suddenly has a game to match his name — neither will quit. Marlon Anderson can pinch-field a little. Nice New Mets we've got on occasion.
Nice reborn slightly older Mets, too. Did you ever dream we'd love Mike Cameron as a rightfielder? And that Cliff Floyd would deserve at least consideration, I'm not kidding, for a Gold Glove? Without flashing my fan credentials in too showy a fashion, I have to say that in 37 seasons of watching Mets baseball, I don’t think we've ever had a better defensive outfield.
I also wished for Tino Martinez to hit a home run off Braden Looper, so what do I know? I know to be careful with those wishes. This one actually had its intended effect with the assist of slick infield work (this is not the best defensive infield we've ever had, by the way), so maybe I'll make another wish.
I wish Sean Henn wasn't the starting pitcher Saturday. That's right, I said it. Unknown quantities give me the shakes. The rest of Metsdom is probably drooling in its Rheingold over facing this neophyte, but how many lefties that you've never or barely heard of, even those with 10.00 ERAs like Henn's, have cooperated with our fantasies of pitching down to their obscurity against us? It's a short list. For every Halsey, there's like ten Claussens and a hundred Nabholzes and a thousand Zerbes and I don't like it — especially because of his opponent, our knight in this battle of ignoble southpaws.
Tom Fucking Glavine is pissin' me off already and he has yet to give up a run today. Before Friday's game he was on with the WFAN afternoon hosts (Ego and the Idiot as a friend refers to them) and was asked about the possibilities of a trade before July 31. This is what Tom Glavine should have said:
“I'm a New York Met and I plan on being a New York Met and doing my best for the rest of my contract to help us win.”
That's not what Tom Glavine said. To paraphrase and read between the lines, it was more like, “Ya heard anything? I could be packed in 15 minutes. I am so outta here!” OK, technically he wasn't that inflammatory but there was a good deal of “well, it would really depend where I'd get traded” and pish-posh like that.
Of course if Tom Glavine were somehow traded, you and I and not a few of our fellow travelers would throw a bon voyage party the likes of which Shea hasn't seen since Roberto Alomar slid headfirst into his farewell cake. But that's for us to revel in, not him. He should be feeling awful, horrible, terrible shame at the way he has pitched as a highly paid New York Met. And if he can't feel that, at least he should fake that. I don't need to hear him go on about how San Diego wouldn't be preferable because it would take him so far from his family, but Boston, yeah, he could deal with that.
Glavine's de facto concession speech was plowed under by the marvy Mets win that followed (Pedro got himself a police escort to cut through pre-game traffic, so anxious is he to live up to his expectations), but I was reminded of it all over again when I resumed reading Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx is Burning late Friday evening. In Jonathan Mahler's well-conceived, well-executed book about New York circa 1977, he touches on the toll Catfish Hunter's arm miseries were taking on his pitching:
Not one to miss a turn — he already felt guilty enough about getting paid so much to work forty days a year — Hunter pitched through the pain…
Jesus, the man's arm was falling off but he was taking the ball and not making excuses. He was a diabetic, too, if I recall. Catfish Hunter was a real ace and a real Hall of Famer (too bad he was a Yankee). Pedro is a real ace and a real Hall of Famer. Maddux and Johnson and, though it stirs my acids to say it, Clemens all merit those distinctions. When Tom Glavine is talked about as a likely Hall of Famer, I seethe some. He benefited from a ridiculous strike zone for a decade and when faced with the least bit of adversity, he practically phoned it in. We're supposed to feel sorry for him somehow that QuesTec and a yellow cab caught up to him after he took the money and ran to a team in obvious decline? Now he's publicly speculating that he doesn't want to be bothered to go all the way to San Difuckingego if by chance an actual first-place team wants him?
Dear Tom: I hope the Mets do trade you and that it's to the Bora Bora Bores while they're on the first leg of a South Asian road trip that lasts three months, you pompous, disproportionately overcompensated ass.
But first beat the Yankees. That would be my more immediate wish.