FLUSHING (FAFIF) — Mike O'Connor didn't feign surprise at his success versus the New York Mets Tuesday night.
“The Mets?” the celebrated lefty asked after accepting congratulations from his Washington teammates. “Never heard of 'em.”
When told that in fact the Mets had been in the National League since 1962 and have been leading its eastern division by a wide margin most of the year, the 25-year-old pitcher just shook his head.
“Nah,” he said. “Doesn't ring a bell.”
O'Connor swore he meant no disrespect to those who provided the nominal competition in his second Major League start: “Listen, you face teams all the time. Sometimes they're familiar, sometimes they aren't. Tonight was the first time I've ever seen the Nets.”
Reminded that the Nets are a basketball team leading the Indiana Pacers in the NBA playoffs, O'Connor quickly corrected himself: “My bad. I meant, uh…I'm sorry, what's their name again?”
A Mike O'Connor can be forgiven his ignorance regarding the relative obscurity of an opponent that garnered all of two hits across seven innings. O'Connor is, after all, the reigning Washington Nationals minor league pitcher of the year. He's just become a one-game winner in the big leagues. Most of all, he's a recently promoted southpaw in the best tradition of household names like Chad Zerbe and Brian Barnes. Fans of the New York Mets certainly remember who they are even if they'd have a tough time identifying who their own pitcher was Tuesday.
O'Connor, on the other hand, can't be expected to differentiate among all the teams he's beaten. The Mets certainly did nothing to leave an imprint on his psyche. They can't waste a lot time worrying about their anonymity, however. Wednesday night, they face the daunting task of batting against Pirate starter Ian Snell.
Yes, that Ian Snell. Mike O'Connor and Ian Snell on consecutive nights…makes you wonder whether anybody will hear from these Mets again.