The holiday weekend was also my 15th college reunion, so tonight was my first chance in a couple of days to really focus on orange-and-blue dramas. Sure, I did my share of one-earing it over the weekend, which isn't coincidental: As a high-school senior I wound up picking between New Haven and Boston, and opted for New Haven because I thought I'd be able to sometimes see and usually hear the Mets there. (In 1987 the Mets were way up the dial on some low-powered station; as it turned out, even in New Haven listening was hit and miss at night after some Toronto station jacked its signal strength. Boston? No chance.)
Anyway, while keeping an occasional ear on Met doings I did manage to curse Tom Glavine: I tuned in Saturday afternoon to hear a certain excitement in Howie's voice; it was obvious just from the way The Eventual Met's pitches were being described that Something of Import was happening. As I suspected, no Marlin had reached base; no sooner had I started fretting that I'd anger all my friends by spending the next 90 minutes huddled in the fetal position while Glavine pitched the first no-hitter in Mets history than Reggie Abercrombie put an end to that. Oops. Sorry, Glav.
By the time I tuned in Sunday El Duque had departed; tonight I was determined that it was me and the Mets. Well, me, the Mets and endurance: Two rain delays and Trachsel was cruel, and the way Trachsel pitched was crueler. That aside, this one had little pieces to remember even before the extremely satisfying denouement: Lo Duca's ballet for hand, second base and Orlando Hudson's glove was entertaining, as was his double down the third-base line that hit…the bag? (No.) A rock? (No.) The lip of the grass? (Yes!)
As we fought back and coughed the lead up and fought back again, I found myself thinking about baseball teams and the long season. It's an unhappy fact of baseball life that lots of times what gets you to the postseason (or X distance into it) ahead of the other guy is everything breaking right: Major guys don't get hurt, platooners and bench guys and middle relievers have career years, balls land on chalk instead of just beyond it, and so on. With that in mind, if you want some more hopeful spin I sure saw some stuff rotating tonight: Once again we were behind late and I wasn't in the least bit scared — I had a feeling things would line up somehow.
Carlos Delgado is ice-cold? Cliff Floyd is heating up.
Kaz Matsui has finally run out of Met lives? Jose Valentin has found himself.
Xavier Nady can't hit in the clutch? Endy Chavez does nothing but.
Baseball teams sometimes get referred to as machines, but if so they're rarely drive-me-off-the-dealer-lot Ferraris. Instead, they're kit cars whose hoods are always up, with the daily drive a mad scramble for new parts and old parts and slightly reconditioned parts and parts banged into place while cursing and parts extracted and left for some other sucker to make use of. Sometimes the car winds up on the side of the road by June and it's a long walk to next February. Sometimes you get into September babying it and hoping, only to see the dash turn into a sea of red lights. And sometimes….
Shit, I ain't jinxing it. Let's just say that sometimes you get to the end of May and listen approvingly to the engine and flip the dial and hit the fourth great song in a row that's just beginning and you think, Baby, let's floor it.