You an SCTV fan? If you are, then you'll remember Monster Chiller Horror Theater, hosted by Count Floyd, Joe Flaherty's version of every low-rent Friday night sci-fi filmfest emcee in every local market. What made it all the more resonant was that in its heyday, SCTV aired Friday nights at 12:30 on NBC (and is presently rerun in the Friday wee hours on TV Land).
I thought of all this because of something I saw late Friday night. Just one scene (which is pretty much all Count Floyd ever showed). It was a shot of Roberto Hernandez warming up on a mound down a foul line at Phone Company Park. Notice I didn't say “the bullpen,” because they didn't bother to build one in San Francisco. They don't have one now and they didn't have one when they played in Candlestick.
The shot of Hernandez on that makeshift mound shot me full of heebies and jeebies. It occurred to me that in almost every Mets road game I've ever watched in a stadium that doesn't have an actual pen (Wrigley, Busch at least in the old days come to mind), there is a shot like that. It's a close game and the Mets are clinging to a lead but the enemy is mounting an attack and whoever's in the game for us is losing it bit by bit and there's a reliever of ours — doesn't matter who — heating up as fast as he can to control the damage.
And always, always!, it ends in baseball disaster. That guy marches in and next thing you know he's marching out and not in triumph.
Tonight it didn't happen. Roberto stayed put, Stevie got out of it and Braden did what he sometimes does though we like to pretend he doesn't because he doesn't do it nearly enough. But I agree, the whole plot was, as Count Floyd used to tell the kids in 3-D…scary!
But since we won, a couple of other things:
• Since I was old enough to have flashbacks, I lived in dread of the team that had the young hitter who couldn't be gotten out. He was inextinguishable, certainly when it counted. Whether it was young Dave Parker or Mike Schmidt or Dale Murphy or, more recently, young Albert Pujols or Miguel Cabrera. It killed me that we didn't have one of those hitters who was destined for greatness so he could do to others what others had been doing to us. Well, check it out. Now we do.
• Steve Trachsel pitched eight innings of two-hit ball. He worked crisply and efficiently and was generally brilliant, same as he ever was. (Pause for ironic laughter.) Yes, he's back, the guy none of us were really thinking about. I have to admit that when he began to surface on his endless rehab stint, I internally groaned. You can't have too much pitching, but Steve Trachsel? It wasn't a knock on his past performance, which, since the middle of 2001, had been beyond competent and occasionally superb. What bugged me was Steve Trachsel was a reminder of 2002 and 2003 and 2004, three seasons that I'm quite happy to leave in my box of yearbooks. Stay in your horrible past, Trachsel! You and Howe and Wigginton, all of you awful reminders of the way things used to be! Wait! Did you hear that? I think Tony Clark is calling a meeting for you 2003 Mets. Listen to him, he has lots to say. Go! Now! Sure, several of our current stalwarts were around then but they've all done new, shiny things of late and, for all my rheumy reminiscences, I'm all about the of-late lately. I don't think of Glavine (Tom, not Mike) or Floyd (Cliff, not Count) as part of those terrible teams anymore probably because I don't think of those terrible teams at all if I can help it. Technically, Reyes and Wright were there for some of that, but they're 2005 Mets now. August 2005 Mets. Very august 2005 Mets. I like it here in the present with them. DON'T MAKE ME GO BACK! But a couple of innings in, I realized it wasn't Trachsel's fault that he didn't get to be part of a good Mets team until now. Thus, welcome to the club, Steve. It's nice to have you back where you belong.
I tell ya what, I am so fucking giddy right now that I'm welcoming Steve Trachsel back to something.
• And welcome back the New York Mets to the Fraternal Order of Teams Who Are At Least Eight Games Over .500, an organization from which its membership had lapsed since October 1, 2000 (94-68). That only took 774 regular-season contests played to their conclusion to achieve. Spectacular a plateau as it is, I hope there's a slightly more stupendous one awaiting Saturday.
And, y'know, BOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!. Keep feelin' at home, fellas.