The game? Well, the moment the Astros won it felt like it'd been played a month ago, but while I nearly woke Emily and Joshua with a gleeful yell when Bobby Abreu struck out, it did feel like a microcosm of the season. The pitching, defense and hitting all yo-yo'ed between frustratingly inept and thrillingly clutch, with the Mets looking as baffled about which personality would show up next as we all were at home. (And seeing the one-two punch of Victor Zambrano and Kaz Ishii left me muttering about long-ago decisions about the starting rotation, though Kaz did just fine. Victor, on the other hand, was Victor.)
I was surprised how sad I was when word came from St. Louis, finding myself staring at the radio for a long, long moment before perspective arrived. A few years ago, I arrived at what I hope would last me as the definition of a successful season: I want my team to play games that matter in the final week of the season. Well, we did that this year. Mathematically meaningful games, at least.
More importantly, this 9-2 run against the Braves, Marlins, Nationals and Phillies has at least washed away some of the bad taste from the 2-8 road trip that killed us (and the Nats' sweep at Shea that followed it). We do run the risk of getting too excited: Beyond the fact that it's garbage time, the Braves were on cruise control, the Nats sent out the JV, the Marlins are disintegrating in a truly ugly way, and the Phillies are playing tight, which I'm sure is somehow still Larry Bowa's fault.
But we've gotten some good things to file away for the future, too: Heilman closing games with swing-and-miss stuff and Jacobs having solid at-bats again are the biggest ones in my book. Besides, wins are wins. We could finish in third place (and even dream of second). We should finish over .500 — though it would be just like this schizoid team to tank against the Rockies. We certainly didn't quit in September the way previous editions of this team did.
And we're now down to the know-it-by-heart part of the schedule during which wins and losses become secondary to the fact that games are games. There are only five left. Whether those games are exhilirating or deadly dull, crisp or sloppy, they're infinitely better than anything that'll be on TV until next spring. Cherish 'em.