Waking up in the first inning this afternoon, still hung over from last night's emotional doings, I couldn't have predicted that it would be a 1986 Greenville Brave who would captivate our thoughts as retro weekend concluded. Especially since Tom Glavine wasn't pitching against the Rockies.
Now he may not be pitching against anybody. Cross your fingers that he can cross his fingers. He was one of the two givens among our starters and now both of them are parked in the TBD lot. Hence, after 4-1/2 months of puzzling out potential rotations and trying to assure you and reassure myself that we'll have enough pitching when it counts, I give up. Whoever takes the ball will take the ball and we'll figure it out from there. We've just fortified the bullpen with the acquisition of Guillermo Mota, but even the Michael Tucker of relievers can only do so much. The casting call is in effect, then:
Mike Pelfrey, Brian Bannister, Oliver Perez, Dave Williams, John Maine…come on down!
Orlando Hernandez, step right up!
He did! He did!
Good Duque, who swings by about four times as often as horrendous Duque, reappeared at Shea Sunday and made Colorado question its contender status. He struck out eight batters, collected one hit and stole one base. He can do all that. He is advised to continue.
Solid to occasionally spectacular outings from solid to rarely spectacular starters is what it's going to take to win more than a division title, though I plan to linger and enjoy the magic number countdown (26…and 27 over .500 for the first time since
2000 1999) before sweating profusely over phrases like Game One, Game Two and Game Three. As an intense 1986 Met and frisky 2006 broadcaster said after the 2-0 lilacwashing  of the Rocks, Mets fans, get your heads out of the oven.
Keith may be relenting and allowing his uni top to be auctioned off for charity, but can the Carloses & Co. keep wearing theirs? Two throwback fashion shows, two victories. The Mets are now 4-0 when wearing 1986 clothes past their 1992 expiration date. Remember, they did it twice in 2002 as part of the Triumphant Glory promotion, a year when, ironically, there was little triumph and no glory. True, the magic wore off those togs by 1991, but they seem to be working again. (On a personal couture note, I've suddenly witnessed three wins in a row in my black 2000 World Series cap and, as Keith proclaimed last night, you'll have to rip it off my head.)
My hangover from 1986 + 20 isn't quite faded, so a few leftover impressions from last night:
• I read today that it figuratively killed Ray Knight that he couldn't attend, but he was committed to make appearances with his golfer wife on behalf of the concern that manufactures the heart medication that saved him from being literally killed. I'm looking to feel sympathy for his cause, but what audience on earth could have been more interested in Ray Knight's presence than the one at Shea?
• Many banners flew at the ol' ballpark proclaiming variations on the message that we won in '86, we'll win in '06. Who without foreknowledge of Glavine's condition would have argued? It's so much better to have these festivities enveloped by success. So many Banner Days of my adolescence were unhinged by well-meaning participants who insisted the Mets would be known as CHAMPS 1969 1973 1979. You gotta believe delusion is painful to observe between games of a doubleheader when you're 14 under and 15-1/2 out.
• But why was it necessary for the Mets to take down their 1969, 1973 and 2000 pennants from below the centerfield flag where they have flown classily since 2001? They left only '86 and a companion anniversary banner to whip in the wind. Was Randy Niemann going to be offended by our other triumphant glories? Tacky.
• Darryl being given the Tom Seaver treatment as final introductee was perfect. But it was surprising to this reporter that Gary Carter superceded Keith Hernandez in the public address pecking order. Gary was the Kid, but Keith will always be The Man. Ah, but Gary Carter is Hall of Famer Gary Carter. Cooperstown trumps Captaincy. (Yeah, I know they were eventually co-captains, but don't tell me that was about anything but salving Carter's ego.) To whatever extent it was planned, kudos to Keith for turning it over to “the Mookster” as team rep and letting the man who made all this possible have the last word.
• Beautiful that Mookie is still MOOOOOO!KIE. He hung around as first base coach for six seasons under Bobby V, but he never faded into the Eddie Yost woodwork. Seeing him last night was both familiar and fantastic. MOOOOOO!
• Oh, you weren't the only one surprised to see CLOSE 94 belting out the national anthem. I'm assuming she was the singer at the Home Opener a dozen years ago and, true fan that she is said to be, kept and cherished her very own jersey. But the Mets couldn't make her a new one for last night? (Or do they only go to the first 25,000 anthem singers?)
• Finally, in the spirit of overwrought, mid-late '80s Iron Eagle, Over The Top action movies with a heart of gold and a Kenny Loggins-laden soundtrack, how's this?
A great baseball team, one of the greatest ever, is having its big twentieth anniversary reunion. Everybody's gonna be there except for The Ace Pitcher who is unjustly imprisoned (it has to be unjust, 'cause he was The Ace). He attempts an escape but is caught by the evil warden and placed into solitary. The reunion goes on without him. It's just not the same. The Ace sulks.
A gruff prison guard with, yes, a heart of gold, whispers words of encouragement in the ears of The Ace. Your cell is 60 feet 6 inches long, he tells him You're still young, your arm still has lots of life left and so do you. With nothing else to occupy his time or his mind. The Ace starts training. He throws pebbles. Then stones. The guard sneaks him a baseball. He gets better and better. The state penal authority re-examines his case and finds it was all the warden's fault. The warden is imprisoned. The Ace is released! And he can pitch again!
Meanwhile, the team he used to pitch for, the one that welcomed back all the old players, has just lost the use of its current star to a possible clot. Only one man can save them now…The Ace! The Ace is signed just in time for the World Series (never mind the August 31 deadline; this is the movies) and does the one thing he never did when he was younger…he wins a World Series game. Hell, he wins THE World Series game, the one that captures his old team the championship. And this time, the enwised Ace, who missed his team's reunion during the summer and his team's parade twenty years ago when he was young, talented and foolish, rides in the lead float. His old teammates? They line the streets and applaud, arm-in-arm with the prison guard and the GM who gave him one last chance.
Meet me halfway across the sky.