[CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP]
Magic Number: 63
David Wright: Only one.
And yes — he's priceless.
It takes a Metropolis to be as good as we've been throughout the first half, but sometimes you have to call on Superman to bail you of a pickle, especially one of your own making. Stuttery defense and unfocused baserunning made it look as if Marlin hustle and determination could outdistance Met miasma. But one swing from Diamond Dave cleared our heads and scattered those Fish back into their Tankersley.
They're a plucky bunch all right, but there are days when it's good to see the Mets, one in particular, put his foot down and declare in action if not words, “That's it. They're the Marlins and we're the Mets. Let's make that count.”
For our readers in Maine, it had all the makings of a quietly celebratory All-Star sendoff, the Mets definitely being the Mets early, particularly Nady and Glavine. But geez, the Marlins never give up. After slapping each other around a bit (Scott Olsen is not reticent to express his displeasure with teammates who don't measure up to his high standards, in this case Miguel Cabrera), they directed their aggression toward the Mets. First they tied us. Then they passed us.
But they didn't beat us. We tried to help them do that but Wright put a stop to that in the eighth. Wright and Ol' Sol, shining in the eyes of Reggie Abercrombie, the centerfielder who Joe Girardi called “all tooled up” in the Times' Play magazine last month. That was when the Marlins were profiled as underpaid, undermanned and decidedly underwhelming. “Our kids work so hard,” Girardi said then. “But half the time they're working hard at the wrong things.”
The Floridians have come a long way since then, but in Abercrombie's case, it doesn't look he's put in a lot of time on shielding his eyes from the sun. If he had, I'd be groping for excuses as to why losing a four-game series to these never-say-die comers wasn't a bad thing. Instead, Abercrombie groped and didn't come up with the fly hit by Lo Duca. Only one of those two gave up on the ball and, unfortunately, it was Paul who stood sheepishly on first while Jose Valentin (leadoff walk) dashed to third. Carlos Beltran brought home Valentin on a smash through the middle — 5-4 Marlins — but Paul's pinch-runner Jose Reyes, his splint downgraded to a bandage (Play Jose Play!), did not tag up on a Delgado shot to medium-deep right.
It was one out, runners on first and second, us down by one. It should have been at least first and third, probably just a man on first because the Lo Duca run should have scored on Beltran's smash.
You following this in Maine?
Well, doesn't matter. David Wright took Logan Kensing — isn't that a town outside of Kennebunkport? — deep into the Picnic Area. After that, with a two-run lead, Billy Wagner could give a run back (he did) but, again, it didn't matter. The Mets not only were the better team but they managed to play like it. The Marlins can go work on their grittiness and such. They're not gonna get us either.
That's the last baseball that will matter between this moment and 2:20 Friday afternoon, almost 116 hours from now. So savor the details, revel in the context and make with an ovation. The New York Mets are more than halfway to their seventh postseason appearance and fifth division title. We have 116 long hours to think about that. 116 hours of not gaming the Wild Card race. 116 hours of not wondering which vets we can trade for prospects. 116 hours of not not being securely in first place.
We pick nits (11-13 since The Road Trip), but how can you not applaud what they've achieved and what they have such a great chance to accomplish? One hand against the other makes a very nice, very appropriate sound.
[/CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP]
NOTE TO OUR READERS: We're in this together, Mets fans. Stay with your favorite blog through this interminable desert of All-Star inactivity and we'll deliver you safely and sanely to Wrigley Field with a full complement of Faith and Fear. We'll take our break in