Last year when Labor Day arrived Emily and I packed the kid into the rental car and we headed for Long Beach Island. It was a lovely week filled with lovely weather, lovely friends, lovely kid activities on a lovely beach, and really, really, really unlovely baseball. That was the week we went 1-6. The week Shingo Takatsu served up a huge, fat, juicy meatball to Miguel Cabrera. The week Braden Looper managed to blow a save in Atlanta not once but twice on the same night. (“All I want for Christmas is Billy Wagner,” I typed. Hmmm.) The week our flickering postseason hopes went out.
Today we're getting in the car to go to … Long Beach Island! Same beach house, even. (This year it reportedly has high-speed Internet, so you won't be rid of me so easily.) The weather's not looking lovely, at least for the beginning of the week. That's OK. Because I'm relaxed about the baseball .
Case in point: Last night Emily and I were lounging around watching the game. We remained calm when Glavine imploded — not particularly helped when Delgado followed a nice stab of a liner with a speed-of-continental-drift move in the general direction of Chris Burke, just missing an inning-ending double play. No matter — as you've taught me this year, it's about Ws and Ls, not style points. We watched the Mets coolly take the lead on a smash by Wright (whom I seem to recall was slumping once upon a time) that Jason Lane played off his lower back. The Astros, not to be denied just yet, tied it at 6. Still we remained calm.
Digression: What was up with that ridiculous poll on what fans want most in the new park? Who wouldn't pick legroom/better seats? More concessions is too iffy — definitely a case of quality outweighing quantity, as more opportunities to buy rock-hard/wet-tissue-paper pretzels is not a selling point. More restaurants? Again, nice in theory; possibly dangerous in practice. More parking? Not essential for part of the audience, and it's not like a crappy day at the park was ever redeemed by a really great parking spot. Better, roomier seats are the safe choice, because it's pretty hard to screw them up. How boring. So I got to wondering out loud: Couldn't they have done better? Why not a question to make people pay attention? Something like…I dunno…Should the new park have hookers? They'd wear bright green so you could see them from far away, kind of like vendors but not to be confused with vendors, because if a bunch of drunken frat boys goes several sections over in pursuit of a neon jersey and finds the Pepsi guy, it's gonna get ugly.
At this point Emily raised a very important point: Could you trust the Mets to supply good hookers? What if what was available turned out to be the Aramark equivalent of hookers? An excellent question, and proof that my wife remains wise even when not exactly in her element. Just the thought of an Aramark hooker had me imagining Fran Healy declaring without a hint of shame that if you haven't tried an Aramark hooker, you sure don't know what you're missing.
Huh? What's that? We should really move along? Why? … Oh. Jeez, you're right. I do seem to still be talking about hookers. You're right, I really should stop. OK, sorry. Um, where were we?
(For the record, of course I don't think New Shea should have hookers. I just thought the poll was silly and needed a little livening up. Though I bet Keith would have had something amusing to say on the subject.)
Anyway, before the 7th I calmly told Trever Miller that we were coming to get him. (I don't think he could hear me, being in another time zone and all.) I was wrong. Wrong, but not worried. Chad Bradford survived a night when his pitches were sailing a bit high, thanks to one to Orlando Palmeiro that was perfect. So before the 8th I calmly told Russ Springer that we were coming to get him. And I was right. Wright with the double after narrowly missing a monster HR, Valentin with the go-ahead run, Endy with some insurance. Insurance that made Billy Wagner's extended confrontation with Lance Berkman far less worrisome. Entertaining, even.
So off I go to the beach. No Shingo Takatsu or Braden Looper or Fran Healy in sight. Just the best baseball team on the planet, racking them up  and counting them down.