You and your Unholy Books. Ever since I bore witness to them almost five years ago, I have rooted for them and for their contents to flourish. I keep up on who's a new Met first and foremost in order to confirm with you the status of the next entry within those heretofore sacred volumes.
Therefore, in the bottom of the seventh when Willie pulled Padilla (Met No. 766) and replaced him with Shingo Takatsu, I wasn't thinking “What The FUCK?” or “WILLIE! THIS GUY NOW?” or “here comes an American League reject who hasn't pitched since I don't know when to make his debut against one of the best hitters there is in the absolute most crucial situation in the absolute most important game of the year.”
I thought, “Oh good, No. 770. I wonder which card of Shingo Takatsu's Jace has.”
I'm apparently not enough of a Toppsmudic scholar to have correctly interpreted the purpose of The Unholy Books. I realize now they exist to record and reflect reality, not create it. Nobody's successfully created a Met out of thin air since George Weiss did so with Hobie Landrith.
Anyway, it didn't look any different or better at home than it did in your vacation paradise. YNH Stadium continues to disturb with its assortment of patio furniture in the bullpens and its men's room tiles scattered about various side walls and its 40,000 empty orange seats sweating and its yard markers calling attention to a pockmarked infield and its superstrength light bulbs borrowed from the climactic scene of White Nights shining in the eyes of converted second basemen who are hopelessly lost and generally befuddled in right field to begin with.
That said, it would've looked just fine if Victor Diaz could've held onto a fly ball, if Larry Poncino could've made a one-way-or-the-other call on the pitch that got away from Lo Duca while Castro dashed into contemplation mode and if I had never, ever found cause to be more than dimly aware of the man who would become the 770th player to enter a Major League game in a New York Mets uniform — somebody holding the fate of our hard-fought season in his funkyjunky right hand, somebody named Shingo Takatsu.
Having my consciousness raised where the massive talent of Miguel Cabrera is concerned is another phenomenon I could've put off for the foreseeable future.
To be fair, our newest pitcher stayed in and retired the next four batters, which perhaps provides the answer to the one question we all had to be asking in our heads: “Aside from that, Mrs. Takatsu, how did you enjoy the game?”
Shingo's statistically successful Mets debut (ERA: 0.00) combined with the Astros' loss — about time that Clemens voodoo doll kicked in — and the Nats' comeback win over the Phillies keeps us within dreaming distance. As I watched Washington triumph (bang zoom, indeed), I couldn't exactly decide if it was good or bad for us. Good in eyes-on-the-prize terms, but we're last in the N.L. East again. What the hey — I didn't like being mired amid all those teams anyway. If this Wild Card chase has reinforced anything, it's how much I absolutely despise the Marlins, the Phillies and the Shingo Takatsu of divisional opponents, the Nationals (I'd never heard of them either at this time last year). If this is our competition, I just as soon not belong to any pennant race that would have us as a member.
On the other hand, I still like and admire The Holy Books. I just wish they were entering Sunday a 769-card affair.
Now, an unfair comparison I've resisted making…until now:
FOSTER VS. BELTRAN
FIRST YEAR AS A MET
THROUGH 135 GAMES
FOSTER 1982: 13 HR 63 RBI .252 AVG
BELTRAN 2005: 14 HR 62 RBI .265 AVG