We usually trot out this reminder early in the season when we're still adjusting our ballological clocks to the idea that we won't go 162-0, but the bromide is true anytime: You're gonna win a third of your games, you're gonna lose a third of your games and what you do in the other third determines your year.
Stick Friday night's mellow misfire in the pile of 54 about which you can't do spit. Not that it should have been impossible to overcome a 2-1 deficit to the last-place Nationals, but look at the variables working against us.
• Lefties with stuff need not apply. Billy Traber followed in the tradition of soft southpaws everywhere, baffling and beguiling Met bats while leaving every pane of glass at RFK undisturbed. Don't let him be traded where he can hurt us — and god forbid a potential playoff foe gets ahold of Zane Smith. We'll be doomed. Redeeming feature: Lastings Milledge timed a slopball and singled. There's hope for this kid yet.
• Heck hath no fury like a Met prospect scorned. I knew Billy Traber was a familiar name. When I heard the story from Howie — he was a top draft pick selected by Steve Phillips for whom Steve Phillips was already making excuses and placing blame before trading him for Roberto Alomar — I figured the fix was in. Bonus points on this count for Alex Escobar's mini-revival. He was in that trade and he probably wanted a piece of us. What, you thought I was only as good as Robbie Stinking Alomar?
• Bang zoom, they were due. Cripes, we hadn't played in Washington since Jefferson was president and we hadn't lost in Washington, it seemed, since the Adams administration. It had been merely eight straight over them there, but you can't swat Nats every night.
• I'm sorry, Mr. Glavine, but the offense is reserved for Mr. Trachsel. For Stevie Shoelaces, the Mets may very well have found a way to score eight runs and win 8-7. For Tom Tentative, not so much, but the important thing was he got sharper and sharper in defeat, especially in the sixth, his final frame, the one he had to talk Willie into (Willie doesn't get talked into much, I'm guessing). Lately we've witnessed a return to health by Pedro, a rounding into form by Duque and now a second straight start in which Glavine is kind of getting it together. I'd love to get you past 287, big fella, but just keep overcoming into October. Good advice for us all.
• The Homestead Grays have always been more legendary. The New York Mets are now 2-2 dressed as New York Cubans, winning at home over the Chatham All-Stars (a.k.a. Toronto Blue Jays) in 2001 and in Kansas City against the Monarchs in 2004, losing last year to the Crawfords in Pittsburgh and last night in D.C. Result aside, nifty throwback threads…or as Julio Franco put it, “hey, these fit just like I remember.”
The magic number is stuck at 36 over the Phillies, who won an endless game in Cincinnati. It went 14 and pitchers were pinch-hitting on both sides, raising a question: Do managers run through their benches quicker than they used to? How is it Davey and Bobby managed marathons and still seemed to have a Rusty Staub or Matt Franco available at the last possible moment? Or are benches just so much thinner because bullpens are so much more bulging? But I digress. The Phillies won, as did the Braves, the Marlins and of course the Nats. We lost. Everybody picked up ground on us.
Tough to say that with a straight face.
I know it happened last Tuesday post-Sanchez, but I'd bet (not that I bet on anything but the ponies, which is perfectly legal) there haven't been three nights all season when everybody in the division gained a game on the first-place Mets. That's why what could have been an irritating-as-hell 2-1 loss in August was so easily shoved onto the 54-L pile. Not that I haven't known for quite some time that nobody's gonna get us, but after having just won five in a row and increasing the games-ahead to 14 and the games-above to 25, this may have been the first one-run loss in 2006 that I really and truly greeted with “so what?”
Lest you think I was slacking, I also knew very well that if we had won, we'd be 26 over for the first time since ending 2000 that way and we'd be in sight of 30 over, a perch we've reached in only five Met campaigns ('69, '85, '86, '88, '99). Also, once we get to 15 up, we can think about 16 up, which would be the largest margin the Mets have ever floated above the field in any year that wasn't 1986.
Assuming nobody taxied back to the team hotel or limoed up to Atlantic City for some action, these are the problems with which a Mets fan can joyfully deal.